Mumbai. The city where there are no chicken rolls for Bengali men

Chicken roll from Candies

I wrote this for Instagram feed but thought of putting it on the blog too with some minor modifications.

I still remember the first time I ordered a chicken roll in Mumbai. This was in 1997 and I’d just moved in to the city from Kolkata. I was at Chiquita that evening, a small restaurant with an interesting reputation in ColabaA colleague of mine, who stayed at the YMCA then, suggested that we go there for a snack. 

He ordered a Frankie, which is the Mumbai version of the Kolkata roll but frankly doesn’t work for any Kolkatan. I was excited to see the words ‘chicken roll’ on the Chiquita menu and ordered it instead, seeking salvation.

I was flabbergasted when I was served a hot dog bun stuffed with chicken and mayonnaise. This was not the roll of Nizams for sure. Pun intended. I was heart broken.

As I settled into my new life in Mumbai, I would occasionally have the chicken mayo rolls from the Monginis stall at the Churchgate Station on my way home from work. I then discovered Hearsch Bakery in Mumbai and fell in love with the sweet mayo in their chicken salad rolls. The chicken was stringy, the ‘salad’ was one wilted lettuce leaf, but I’d give my kingdom for that mayo. I even protested when they once switched to a less sweet mayo. The pricing was and continues to be very economical.

I later learnt that making mayonnaise at home is the done thing in Goan and Parsi homes in Mumbai. My mom in law, a Parsi, would make and send us bottles and I’d make a chicken casserole in the microwave for the missus and me with it in the early days of our marriage. 

Chicken rolls are a part of the menu at Irani Cafes too as I later found out. I ordered one a few years back at Cafe Excelsior urged by a friend who apparently used to live on it when she was in college. Their roll wasn’t the best of what they they had to offer or maybe they had a bad day that evening. I decided to stick to the mutton cutlets at Cafe Excelsior, which I love, in the fuure.

A flood of chicken roll memories came back the other day when I called in for a chicken roll from Candies as the chicken sandwiches there were over that morning. The bun was brilliantly soft. The mayo flavourful and different from the sweet and sticky one at Hearsch. The chicken filing was far more liberal than at Hearsch and of way better quality. It costs more though at Candies I think. I had a sore throat that day and the softness of the bun and the creaminess of the stuffing made me call for more of the Candies chicken rolls for lunch. I removed the leaves though.

Do you have a favourite chicken roll place in Mumbai? If you do, I’d like to hear about it.

As for Kolkata rolls in Mumbai, the mutton and egg rolls at Hangla’s work for me here. The chain wasn’t there when I’d moved into Mumbai twenty years back though. I don’t like their chicken rolls though. 

Me at Nizam's Kolkata, 2014
The Kolkata roll is said to have been invented there


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