Why Mira Bhayandar Road now feels like home to this Bandra boy from Kolkata... Kusum Rolls

Rolling it up at Kusum's Bhayandar
The hunt for Kolkata rolls in Mumbai

I called up didu, my granny, in Kolkata last evening.

She told me that my cousin had visited her during his trip back to Kolkata. He had dropped in at her place just about the time when I had posted a pictures of myself, eating a roll in Mira Road, on Facebook. Didu said that my cousin, who has just moved into Mumbai himself, sounded very happy while telling her about my roll encounter. He had told her that it is difficult to find Kolkata rolls in Mumbai and he was excited that I had located some. My 'discovery' seemed to have made them both happy so thanks to Facebook for this bit of grandma grandson bonding.

At Kusum in Mira Bhayandar Road,  
25 June 2016

I was equally thrilled that evening. Let me tell you why.

Earlier in the afternoon, while going down Mira Bhayandar Road to Bhayandar East I saw a shop with a signboard which said, 'Kusum Rolls,  Kolkata, serving since 1970'. This was at the Mira Road side of the stretch.

Kusim In Bhayandar
Kusum Rolls, Park Street Kolkata

Kusum, in Kolkata's Park Street, is one of my favourite places for rolls. I usually go there after breakfast in Flurys for rolls when in Kolkata. They have opened an outlet at the Kolkata airport too and I had a roll there while returning from my most recent trip to Kolkata. Fellow Kusum lover, Awryto Chatterjee, tweeted to me saying to him Kusum is more 'beside Oly Pub' than 'opposite Flurys'. You can take the Calcuttan out of Park Street but you can't take Park Street out of the Calcuttan you see.

At Kusum's, Park Street, 2010
Kusum Rolls, now in Mira Bhayandar Road

I kept a look out for the Kusum Roll shop on the way back home from Bhayandar and spotted it fairly easily. It falls on the left when you are facing Bandra on the Mira Bhayandar Road at the Mira Road side.

My mom, who was with us, remained seated in the cab while I dragged K to join me at Kusum's. On enquiring with the folks there, I found out that the shop is indeed related to Kusum's in Kolkata. I don't know whether its a branch or a franchise of Kusum's though. The chefs have come from Kolkata but are not Bengalis. The manager is from Delhi.

They had a long list of rolls on offer which I didn't even look at and placed my order as I knew what I wanted.

This is how I like my rolls

'Ek egg roll and ek mutton roll. Kanda fry karke'.

I like the onions to be fried in my rolls as the caramelised taste adds a lot of flavour to it. And I want finely chopped green chillies in it too.

My order was lost in translation as I tried to explain that I wanted ek (one) mutton roll and not 'egg mutton' roll to the manager. At the end I did receive an egg mutton roll. Ek and egg sound similar after all.

I prefer to have my mutton roll without egg, but getting an egg mutton here was fitting given that I usually have an egg chicken roll in the actual Kusum as one never seems to get mutton (goat
meat) rolls there.

Adding the egg on to the rolls
Turning the parathas over so that the eggs cook

I started doing a Periscope video on Twitter with my phone and requested K to shoot static pics with her phone which she gamely agreed to. When I later saw the photos that she took, I told her "these are exactly the shots that I would have taken too."

She told me she felt very good to hear that!

Adding mutton, fried onions and finely chopped green chillies to the rolls

Talented young roll chefs from Kolkata

In between doing the Periscope, I shouted instructions to the chefs.

Me: "Don't add raw onions, I want fried onions"

Chef: "Sir, we have added both.""

Me: "Remove the raw onions" (raw onions give bad breath & acidity IMO)

Chef: "Yes, sir"

Manager: "Should we add kacha lonka (chillies)?"

Me:  "Yes!"

And then:

Me: "Don't add sauces""

Manager: "Don't add sauces" and to me, "sorry, people here like sauces unlike in Kolkata so we add."

Me to chef: "Remove whatever sauces you have added."

K: "How is that possible, let it be"

The chef was inspired by my passion for rolls though and removed the sauces that he had earlier added, to the best of his ability by scraping it off.

Actually, I think they do add sauces in shops like Hot Kati Roll and Kusum in Kolkata, unlike in the rolls shops such as Nizam in central Kolkata which claims to have invented rolls. 

It comes down to one's personal choice preference really. 

There is no 'right way' to have a roll but my way is: fried onions, only mutton no egg, chopped green chillies and no sauce.

Mother and son on a roll

K and I collected our rolls and headed to the cab. Coincidentally my mom was with us. My love for rolls is thanks to her. She used to give me money to have an egg roll after school every evening back in Kolkata before I went out to play. She would be at work and couldn't make me an evening snack herself you see.

She sticks to a pretty regimented diet now but did have, to use her words, "one fourth" of the egg roll from Kusum, and K had the rest, while I had the mutton roll.

Just one fourth

I will have the whole, thank you
How were the rolls?

It was one of the best Kolkata rolls that I have had in Mumbai. The paratha had just the right balance of softness and crunch. Some places like Hangla make it a bit harder though do I like their  (Hangla's) mutton rolls too. The egg, paratha, fried onion and brush of sauce made for quite a flavour packed combination at Kusum which did justice to the great texture of the parathas. The mutton pieces were fairly juicy though, as it happens in an egg mutton roll, the mutton didn't get showcased the way it does in just a mutton roll where the egg doesn't come into the equation.

Mid way through the Kusum Roll from Mira Bhayandar Road

Net, net, I was grinning very very broadly at the end. 

I felt at home in Mumbai in a way I never thought I ever would outside of Bandra.

Funny how even after almost two decades in Mumbai, coming across good Kolkata rolls make me so happy.

Moral of the story

In Kolkata, Kusum is located in the very posh Park Street and the Mumbai equivalent of that would be Colaba Causeway. Mira Road, on the other hand, is beyond the city limits of Mumbai and is actually in Thane. An equivalent in Kolkata would perhaps be Baraipur or something. Not the trendy Park Street by any means. Perhaps the high real estate costs in Mumbai made Kusum open here. Which meant that the prices of the roll (Rs 120 for an egg AND a mutton) is more Kolkata-like rather than Bandra. The Kusum airport shop costs are more than Bandra too!

There's a moral to this story if you ask me. 

Don't keep harping on the past when making a fresh start. Prepare to give it your best once again.

The folks at Kusum seem to have done just that.

You can also read/ check:

2. Link to the Periscope broadcast that I did from Kusum. You will need to download the Periscope app to see it

PS: Freddy Mama's birthday

For those who were asking me what I was doing in Bhayandar on Sunday, we were there to celebrate Freddy Mama's birthday with him. He had called in for dahi vada, dosa, idli, dal rice, pulao and tava pulao, 'dal bukhara',  shahi paneer, alu jeera and rotis from 3 local restaurants in Bhayandar which made for a very happy and fairly tasty meal followed by a good old Birdy's birthday cake that we took from Bandra. 

Freddy mama is a rare vegetarian Parsi and his hospitality is what made Bhayandar seem like home for us to start with.

Bhayandar vegetable food festival

Freddy Mama cuts the cake

A happy meal

K and me with Freddy mama


anindya said…
I think most of the veteran roll eaters prefer no sauce, fried onions as that adds up to the taste and the sauce makes it little soggy. We just had a shoot on food yesterday at Oxford ( which was only open for this) and the crew from Delhi had this and once again fell in love for this
Anish said…
Some of my happiest Cal memories are drinking at Ollys and grabbing rolls at Kusum. Can't wait :D
jahaan :) said…
I have never tasted Kusum or any Kolkatta rolls ... but the passion in which you have blogged and the sheer delight you experienced made me for a second feel that I was in Kolkatta and a roll loyalist .... extremely candid blogging ‼️‼️😀
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Once i developed a love for the real 'Mughlai'rolls, I couldn't go back for the parar dokaner stuff. What was the shoot on? I did a shoot day before and the crew called for kolkata rolls from Hangla :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hope you make a trip back soon
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Thank you so much Jahaan :) so glad you liked it and that it striked a chord. Please have a roll on me, till we meet someday and I can treat you to one
Jimit said…
Hi Kalyan !! From ur regular reader from Bhayander. My first ever comment on any of ur posts, although have enjoyed reading all of them. Couldnt resist commenting due to the Mira Bhayander "emotions" haha. Had seen Nutan prior to reading this but not tried yet. Will want to do it now. The "21 park street kolkata" and 1970 legacy seemed interesting. Thanks for all the virtual gastronomical journeys till now. Keep up the good work.
Kalyan Karmakar said…
Hey Jimit, so good to hear from you. Please do comment on non-Bhayandar posts too ;) Thanks for all the support and hope to treat you to a roll someday