Spending our time untethering the mind, getting the fidgets out, exploring the in-between ideas, and learning kintsugi.

Kathi roll – Calcutta vs. San Francisco

with 2 comments

Kasa in San Francisco, serving Kathi roll

Kasa in San Francisco, serving Kathi roll (click for more)

Making of Kathi rolls at street side vendor in Calcutta

Making of Kathi rolls at street side vendor in Calcutta (click for more)

Kathi or kati roll – kababs wrapped in paratha, flat fried bread, and served with a variety of condiments such as chopped onions, spicy green chillies, yogurt, chutneys and salsas. Admittedly, these rolls originated as street food in Calcutta. Close variations on the concept exists in other cuisines – replace the paratha with a naan and you can be standing at Khan market in New Delhi. Put the kabab and condiments it a pita pocket and you end up with the popular gyros.

But when you set up a hip taqueria on the gentle rolling hills of beautiful Pacific Heights in San Francisco, and serve home style Kathi rolls, you have done something brand new. For one, the milieu is orthogonal to the neon lit battered stall on the crowded Calcutta street that serves a hungry crowd of pedestrians on hot summer evenings.

And secondly, can there even be a concept of homestyle Kathi rolls? Did Kathi roll not originate to satisfy the hunger for spicy, juicy meat held together by flaky, chewy fried bread? Are these rolls not to be had in the anonymity of street crowd  – away from the watchful eyes of the dear spouse, away from the responsibility of being the ideal parent? Why would the average Calcutta babu seek out nutritiously balanced and healthy food on the street.

For food purists, Kasa will never reach the divine heights of unwholesome Calcutta street food. However, for the rest of us, there is something to be said about enjoying a glass of mango lassi with a turkey kathi and not having to worry about the number of sick days one has left.

Written by locomotoring

July 3, 2010 at 8:55 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Great Post!

    Absolutely NOTHING can hit the spot like street food in India. Especially Nizaams of Delhi, and chowpatty beach Pav Bhaji (my personal favourite)

    Being a home cook and health conscious. I brought my own version of Kathi rolls and traditional Punjabi food to SF. I’m glad you enjoyed it:)



    July 4, 2010 at 12:38 am

    • @Anamika: Ah, yes, Nizam’s. Or that kebab place with the divine roomali roti in the middle of Gol Market.

      Loved Kasa. Any plans for expanding down to South Bay?



      July 9, 2010 at 2:59 am

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