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!


Rhea said…
Sweet Jesus, I'm making these this week. :-)
oh lovely rolls... i have to make again soon... They add the some sauces in Orissa too... I love it - though very spicey!
i think you cld put hangla out of business.
that said, when i first started to work, i used to live in a PG at ballyganj circular road. my salary as an intern was 100 bucks more than my PG rent, and money was always short.
so on days I wanted to treat myself i used to eat a mutton roll. this was once a month. then twice a month, i used to eat a vegetable (read alu roll). only coz it was cheaper, and at least i could sniff the smell in the stall and pretend it was a mutton roll.
Scarlett said…
I'm so making these, you know I am!! I love Calcutta rolls & thanks for introducing me to caramelized onions :)
mentalie said…
sickening. the bengalis will just not let me stay vegetarian. and i just drooled all over my keyboard again. you should post a warning about that on your blog. %$#@$!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
AGG: well I need to crack mutton rolls before that :)

Alu roll. That brought a back a stream of memories from a period I glossed over. Alu Roll at Karko after emptying pockets on New Empire ticket, discovering kheeri rols at Nizam with high school pal and his summer trainee salary and the muttor rolls in pramod da's canteen. Legend has it that a stray puppy from the Presidency campus would go missing the day he made mutton rolls.

Rhea, Somoo as Julia Child would say, Bon Appetit

Somoo I think Hindus from Orissa and Bengal used sauce. Rolls were originally discovered by the Muslim cooks of Nizam apparently. Those were mutton rolls and didn't need sauces. Sauces must have come in as rolls became egg rolls and spread into the hinterland from Central Calcutta

Scarlett: Glad to have touched a life :) Hope you are better

Mentalie: vegetarian?! Time to call back the F B invite

Hope you are better. What are you all getting into? C & AGG too. Buck up girls
Gia Fernandes said…
Buck up girls indeed! We would if someone bothered to feed us.
Btw, be warned that everytime you cook something and post about it here (with pix), you are just adding to the long list of things you will HAVE to cook for me.
Shaswati said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaswati said…
I make these quite often - both chicken n mutton, difference being I make the parathas at home and they are thinner than the malabar ones. But yes, these ready made ones come quite handy. Always rolls remind me of rolls from Kalabagan back in college days - cheap, tasty n extremely unhealthy!
k said…
and that's why we never buy pasta
Sudeshna said…
You should have the chicken roll at Iceberg near GolPark when you visit Kolkata the next time. Its just awesome.
Your post reminded me of my own school days. Even I used to collect money to have a roll while coming back. But the taste out get in the street side stalls is never comparable to the AC restaurants. May be its a kind of mind block.
Bong Mom said…
Ufff, durdhorsho

Ei week amar "no aaje baaje khaoa" week ar ei dekhei khide pache

BTW Paradise konta, Paramount mone asche
Soma said…
lot of memories rolled in to these. Lovely!

refer to the comment in Snadeepa's blog: 40 rupees for the mutton roll after so many years is hardly an inflation! I think it is still cheap. I love Badshah's roll too.
Man..this is too tempting..yum..its been ages since I had these kinda rolls wud try them..at home.. pictures show them ..all nice post!!!
Anonymous said…
hey! These luk awesome..Will try it at home...
BTW i think u can create a separate section of pics on food...an art gallery of sorts...great pics u take!
Cooked food is one of man's best creation! ;D
Pavan said…
hey! These luk awesome..Will try it at home...
BTW i think u can create a separate section of pics on food...an art gallery of sorts...great pics u take!
Cooked food is one of man's best creation! ;D
Ron said…
I have tried making the Kolkata rolls at home a few times, though for some unfathomable reason I never thought of using the frozen parathas. Tortured myself making the parathas from scratch. Duh!! Will try this asap.

Oh and btw, here in Bangalore, till very recently the only phuchka you got was stuffed with onions and carrots and sprouts. Its taking health consciousness to ridiculous levels I think.

First time commenting...sorry for the length :)
Hi Kalyan, Loved the note on phuchkas. Coming from North India, I have still not been able to develop a taste for the pani puri in Maharashtra.
And thanks for the tip on frozen parathas. Was wondering how to go about the egg rolls as made by Sandeepa.
Will have to eat the chicken rolls at the nearby shop, since I can never cook non veg (raised in a strictly veg family)!
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Cloudcutter: I charge in cakes :)

Shaswati: Like I often say, i admire people who make parathas or ritis or bread or cake. The Malabar ones are a bit podgy for roll

K: or order it at restaurants

Sueshn, must try it out...the roll
shop i remember from the other end of the lake was Peepin and there huge egg rolls.

To start with tolls have to be had off the tawa and on the streets...would get cold in the AC :)

Bong Mom...barit banale aar aaje baje? Could be Paramount. i meant the shop which sold fancy shorbots

Pavan: :) any idea how? I was just wondering if I miss the auto expo. Don't think i do ;)

Ron...great to hear from you. Length? Verbosity is a virtue in my world. Making parathas is too much of a trapeze act. I believe the Bong food scene in bangalore is better than Mumbai. But carrots in phuchka!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey MEWF...thanks so much for writing in. Re the North, i love the chaats of delhi. Sp paapri chaat.

I think Bong mom used packaged parathas too. You can try an alu version at home. Mashed alu sauted with with whole jeera, red chilly powder, lemon/ tamarind/ tomato, chopped red chilly and diced onions...should be good :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Harman...thanks and all the best

Soma...true. in fact to give a perspective, hangla mutton roll is Rs 70.

It's just that those of us who left in the nineties are frozen in a time warp. At least I am
Bong Mom said…
Yeah that sherbet place
vandana rajesh said…
Yummm...the rolls look so good and succulent...have to make it. I just love chicken rolls and the frankies of Mumbai is what takes me back to my childhood days....just love it.
Unknown said…
I now have to wipe off that drool before I write here!

The most amazing chicken roll recipe I have come across so far. I make them too from scratch, using meatballs which are available in supermarkets. I wouldnt say they match up the roadside rolls I had growing up in Patna and then in CR Park, Delhi. But like they say, when in Rome...
Saichukan said…
dooood, you are. just the dudes.

will. make. instantly!!! and yes, thank you.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hey Vandana...nothing like memories of vhildhood eats. I can still taste the egg rolls which I had when I was seven which had a potato filling in them

Hey Preeoccupied thanks for writing... and when in Mumbai have tandoori veg pizza...saw the produly printed outside an Udipi joint yesterday

Saichukan...flattered...tell me when:)
ACE Soft said…
very nice blog for new generation
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Siddhartha said…
yumyyyyy.....just love the look of the rolls
Kalyan Karmakar said…
@Siddhartha: Perhaps you can make them for ma and then after practice for S when she reurns
Anonymous said…
hello author,I stayed in mumbai for the last 5 years.....my school was in santacruz(lilavati podar).u knw we had searched the whole mumbai for good kolkata street food but couldnt get good rolls,wether its the calcutta club,or bhima's.....though bhima is from poschim midnapur........i knoe the guy well, his bussiness is booming....i asked him why dont u make proper bengali rolls...he says tht if i do then the local ppl will not cum to him......and as for hangla...i used to eat there frequently....and once i got food poisoning coz they had put basi chicken......
Anonymous said…
now i hav shifted to bangalore.....and i am very happy ....bangalore has a huge population of bengali's,theres more than 22 restraunts,16 franchise's of KC das,12 of bancharam,not to mentions Oh calcutta's.......other thn tht u get phoochka the way we get in kolkata.....mostly the guys r from bihar....and u get biskfarm biscuits,sunrise masala's,priya pickle's,u hav so many franchise's of khadims.......... js love it here
Subashkumar said…
No Mind Block...... they are the best by the road side. I have these rolls in Mumbai and overseas but nothing like dear old Calcutta rolls...... mmmmmmm
Anonymous said…
Just got a tad serious ;-)•Take 250 g boneless chicken legs cut into one inch pieces. Leg pieces are the secret behind succulent chicken

A question - 250 grms would make how many rolls?
I love Kolkata foods. Be it a street food or in a reputed restaurants. I just love all the flavors of Kolkata food.
Unknown said…
Kathiroll is one of my favourites! Yours looks great :) I make it often as i never manage to set paneer properly and get a crumbled one, making it perfect for this! chowringhee kathi roll