History Of Kathi Rolls - How did Nizam's kebab made their place in everyone's heart?

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Divya Chauhan
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History Of Kathi Rolls - How did Nizam's kebab made their place in everyone's heart?


From the Nizam's on the streets of Kolkata to every corner of the country, Kathi Rolls have come a long way. Know the rich history of delicious street food, Kathi Rolls.

One of the most satisfying and heartiest street food, Kathi Rolls is a pure delight with slightly roasted juicy kebabs, peppers, and chopped onions served with mint chutney wrapped in soft and layered parathas. Kathi rolls are perfect on-the-go eat and are easy on your wallet, too. Go to any major urban city or smaller districts, and you will always see some street-side vendors preparing kathi rolls with different stuffing. But what is the story or the history of kathi rolls? Keep reading to learn about it.

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As a large number of the population believes, Kathi Rolls were originated in the streets of Kolkata at Nizam’s restaurant. These rolls can be traced back to the early 20th century in Kolkata when a local shop named Nizam’s in Kolkata's New Market (initially known as Sir Stuart Hogg Market) founded the recipe out of necessity. Founded by Raza Hassan Saheb in 1932, Nizam’s used to sell kebabs and parathas.

Their grilled kebabs on iron skewers were used to get devoured by Indian natives and British expats equally. The British officials and bureaucrats would make a quick stop at the eatery to have freshly grilled kebabs before heading towards the business district of Dalhousie Square - presently called BBD Bagh. However, the British patrons who visited this shop found eating kebabs by hand messy and time-consuming.

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Because these British bureaucrats always used to be in a hurry, it was inconvenient to have these kebabs on the go.  To resolve this problem, the chef came up with an innovative idea which was to sell the kebabs with soft parathas wrapped around them. And Then came the final touch to it: wrapping the roll in paper to prevent the people from making a mess and getting their hands all greasy and oily.

Also Read: The history of Kulfi dates back to the 16th century and was an invention of the Mughals!

Kathi rolls and mughals?

The concept of Kathi rolls is also said to be influenced by the Mughals to some extent. How you may ask. The Mughlai cuisine in Kolkata was the one that introduced the trend of wrapping kebabs or meats in slices of bread. This introduction of parathas and kebabs to the Kolkata region is said to have led to the creation of the peoples' favourite food, the Kathi roll.

From just rolls to Kathi rolls

Because of the heavy demand for kebabs, it was not possible to grill the kebabs on iron skewers as they were heavy and not fit for mass production. So, the Nizam's switched to bamboo sticks in 1964 for the grilling process. The kebabs that were traditionally skewered in metal sticks were now done on a bamboo skewer. The word 'Kathi' in Bengali means 'stick' and this idea marked the beginning of the now-popular street food – Kathi roll.

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After Nizam's, several street food stalls in Kolkata also started serving Kathi rolls. What makes these rolls unique is the way their filling is done. The paratha is layered with an omelette on which the kebabs are spread. The onions and cucumbers in the filling bring out the freshness hard to find in any other street food. The mustard sauce and mint chutney are a must to get the right taste.

Evolution of Kathi rolls

As the time went by, the traditional fillings of kathi rolls i.e., kebabs, were not the only option. Today, the fillings of Kathi rolls are available in all varieties - veg or non-veg, including paneer, egg, mix veg, chicken, mutton, and the list goes on and on. Besides this, a wide range of chutneys and sauces are added to give a rich burst of flavour.

Kathi rolls remain one of the food items that can be eaten conveniently while on the go. So, next time you are having a bite of this delicious street food, remember its story.

Also Read: History of Rooh Afza and how it became a household name in 3 countries!

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