What's your roll story? Calcutta Chicken Roll Recipe

My mom was a working mom. She still teaches in colleges though she has retired.

She used to give me around Rs 2.50 or so for me to have an egg roll everyday after I returned from school. Mutton wasn't allowed. 'Questionable meat'. Chicken? Too expensive. I would occasionally skip a roll, collect the money over a couple of days, and have a chicken roll.

A good Bong son never says 'Mama don't preach'. But now that I am in Mumbai, with the whole country between us and am into my thirties, I can confess that I do eat 'motton' rolls. (I hope my brother doesn't show her this post).

Most ex Calcuttans in Mumbai miss the street food of Calcutta. Make that 'all' ex Calcuttans. You get sweets in Sweet Bengal. Bong food is easy to cook at home. Else there are the Oh Calcuttas and the Calcutta Clubs. But getting rolls and phuchkas from the streets of Calcutta is really tough outside Calcutta.

The first roll shop that I went to at Mumbai was Chowringhee Square. It was opened at Pali Naka a decade back by a couple who chucked their jobs. It shut down after a year. Real estate costs got the better of them. Calcutta Club, when new, had lovely rolls. But they discontinued these to get more space in the kitchen. Oh Calcutta had a street food festival once. Great rolls. I don't think they repeated it. I read about Bhima at Versova, Andheri. The egg roll was OK. The mutton and chicken ones were pedestrian. Similar to what you got in the Bengali run roll shops in the suburbs of Calcutta. The stuffing was that of thick kosha (slow cooked gravy) chicken or mutton. Calcutta Roll Centre opened and shut at Bandra. They were not missed. Hangla at Andheri has the mutton tikka/ kebabs similar to the famous Muslim and non Bengali roll shops of Central Calcutta. Hangla, which is at Bandra too now, has mutton rolls that match up to the Hot Kati Rolls, Rahmanias and Badshahs of Kolkata. Their chicken rolls suck though.

Very few shops get chicken rolls right. The chicken usually turns out to be too dry or chewy.
The best place for Kolkata chicken roll is, ahem, the Knife's Lair at Bandra, Mumbai.

Here's my recipe for Kolkata Chicken Rolls:

La chicken filling

  • Take 250 g boneless chicken legs cut into one inch pieces. Leg pieces are the secret behind succulent chicken. Marinate this with a tablespoon each of curd, salt, ginger paste, garlic paste, tomato ketchup (for sweetness + colour) and a teaspoon each of red chilly, crushed black pepper, jeera (cumin) and garam masala powders
  • Take 4 tablespoons of oil in a non stick pan. Use olive oil if you feel squeamish. I did. Heat the oil. Plunk the chicken and stir till cooked.
  • Take the chicken out and let the oil remain in the pan

The item number: sizzling onion

Rolls have raw diced onions in them. I prefer fried onions. I first time that I had fried onions when a non Bengali roll maker set up shop in our suburb of Bansdroni in Calcutta. His rolls used to be more elegant than the two Bengali brothers who had a stall which sold greasier rolls. This guy used to fry his onions. I took an instant liking to the sweetish taste of caramelised onions. Difficult to get roll guys in Calcutta to fry your onions. Calcuttans twin the French when it comes to grumpy service levels after all. Hangla in Mumbai is more compliant in keeping with the better service levels here. They fry onions on request. Raw onions are a very idea if you hope to get lucky.
  • Slice two small onions, chop two small chillies and fry them in the remaining oil in the pan. Take the onion and chillies out once they become soft and turn brownish. Let the remaining oil be

Parathas... out sourced

I can't make parathas, rotis, bread or cake. Sumeru's frozen, Malabar (maida) parathas, 5 to a pack, work well for me

  • Put the frozen parathas in the micro for a minute
  • Take them out and put them individually on the greased pan. Heat them on both sides till they get a mild crispiness

Roll baby roll

  • Place the paratha on a plate. Careful, it would be hot
  • Take the chicken pieces and layer them in a single file
  • Add the fried onion and chillies beside the chicken
  • ROLL the roll into a taut cylinder
  • Tuck into a piece of paper/ tissue/ butter paper/ newspaper to hold it in

I made some chicken rolls for dinner tonight after reading about rolls on one of my favourite blogs. K was a a bit low after work and I thought that this would cheer her up. She had her roll. Broke into a smile and said, "Tell me again, why do we buy rolls?"

Well I did say I was good.

This is the second successive post inspired, not adapted this time though, by Bong Mom, Sandeepa. Go there to see how she makes egg rolls.


  • The chicken and onion mix here can be a meal in itself with roti
  • Rolls in the suburbs of Calcutta are made by Bengalis. They add red and green sauce. officially known as tomato and chilly sauce. The non Bengali or Muslim roll makers of Central Calcutta don't add sauces. They led their spices do the talking. I prefer mine without sauces
  • How to get egg rolls in Mumbai: Go to a Frankie shop. Ask for a egg Frankie with no masala and minimal vinegar
  • How to get phuchkas in Mumbai: Go to a paani puri guy. Ask him not to put mitha (sweet) pani, boondi, sprouts, onions or sev. Ask him to put only potatoes after mashing them with red chilly powder and ask him to put only khatta (sour) paani. Edible!