Chicken Kathi Rolls By Monica Sawhney-Haldar at Monica’s Spice Diary
This is the first recipe review I will be doing. I recently connected with Monica and really admire what she does. Luckily, I’ve really been fancying some Indian food recently and so when I had the idea for this feature, her Instagram page popped into my head immediately. Her Instagram page is full of delicious looking Indian food but with slightly more excitement than a typical chicken korma. Highlights include Band Gobi Mattar- a Punjabi cauliflower dish, delicious looking Fish Pakoras and a very interesting concept- Indian Scotch Eggs! Check out her Instagram page here
Her blog, Monica’s Spice Diary focuses on home cooked Indian food, inspired by her mother. There are tonnes of recipes on there, featuring dishes seen on her Instagram page. She doesn’t have a recipe index so the best way to navigate the site could be to search on her Instagram first for something you fancy, before searching for the dish using the search feature on the site. See her full site here
She also runs a spice club in Manchester and Birmingham – a supper club that I wish I could attend! They also do pop ups, cookery classes and party catering. The dishes showcase family-home-style Indian food with tantalising ingredients and the use of fresh spice mixes and authentic ingredients. If you are based in either of the areas, you should go along! Find out more here
The authenticity of her food is clear through her photos and as she hails from Jaipur in India, you know what you are getting is the real deal when it comes to her food. I love seeing people’s food inspired by their family traditions- you just know what you will get will be delicious.
Moving on to the recipe I picked, I decided I’d like to make the Chicken Kathi Rolls. Monica’s Instagram photo of this dish looked amazing and this enticed me to try it. See how I got on….
CHICKEN KATHI ROLLS
Chicken kathi rolls, known simply as Chicken Rolls in their home of Kolkata (Also the setting of part of the movie Lion- one of the most amazing films I’ve ever seen!) are basically a spiced, grilled chicken mix on top of a paratha and finished off with a delicious zingy spicy salad on top. It is a street food favourite and now will be one of my favourite dishes! Monica states that the original features a fried egg- something I am glad she omitted as I don’t personally see it’s place in this dish at all.
Monica has split the recipe into two: One for the chicken mix/salad and another for the parathas. This was fine, but I did find myself moving back and forth on the page, depending on what stage I was at. However, it makes sense because the parathas would be great with so many other fillings or simply eaten on their own as a snack/starter with dips!
I decided to marinate the chicken, simply because I had loads of time. It also means less work when you come to do the rest of the dish (not going to lie, the parathas take forever). The ingredients are fairly straightforward, but I had no idea what ‘haldi’ was and was excited and intrigued to try some new, interesting ingredient. However, when I googled it, turns out the exciting ingredient turned out to be simply turmeric! One thing I didn’t have in the store-cupboard and is listed as ‘optional’ on the ingredients list is Tandoori Powder. I am not one to leave an ingredient out and am quite regimented when it comes to following recipes exactly. I found a big pouch of Tandoori Powder in Tesco for £1.50 and so glad I didn’t miss it out- the amazing smell from the spice mix alone made me think I would use it time and time again. I ended up mixing all the ingredients for the chicken together and leaving it in the fridge overnight to marinate! I also forgot to cut the chicken up and so grilled the thighs whole, which worked well.
The parathas were a bit time consuming and it may be easier to just buy if you don’t like fiddly cooking. If, like me, you love a slightly complicated recipe then give it a try! I found the rolling of the dough the first time difficult- I couldn’t get it to a circle shape at all. Turns out this didn’t actually matter because the next step- folding back and forth like a fan before rolling into a pinwheel- made the second roll much easier! Tip: I used a scale to weigh each ball of dough to ensure they were even- each ball needs to be about 30g to make 6! When it came to cooking them, I ended up making them crispy rather than soft as I thought they would be (and how they are meant to be…) I’m not entirely sure what I did wrong, but maybe I didn’t add enough water to the dough, although it did feel really soft and not sticky and this is what recipe suggests.
The salad was extremely easy to make. Only after I had finished I realised Monica used a green birds eye chilli whereas I used a red one. Not sure what difference, if any, that would make though. If you aren’t into real spice, maybe use a slightly milder chilli (birds eye are very hot!) A quick guide to chillies is that the bigger the chilli, the milder it usually is.
Marinating the chicken the night before took about 10-15 minutes.
All in all, the next evening from start to finish was 1 hour and 10 minutes. For me, this is normal as I love to spend time in the kitchen. If you want to cut down the timings I’d suggest swapping the homemade parathas for shop bought parathas or even naan bread, pittas or wraps. All would compliment the chicken and salad great.
Other than the parathas, which were a bit of a labour of love, the rest of the dish was very easy and quick to prepare. With the parathas, I would catergorise this at the Home Cook level of my dishes; without would be Rookie!
The best part about cooking; the eating! I loved the taste of this dish. The smell of the chicken under the grill reminded me of the aroma you get as you pass a great Indian restaurant. This, mixed with fried onion made for a very enjoyable and aromatic taste. The chicken wasn’t overly hot, but spiced really well. I wouldn’t normally think to add fried onions to a chicken wrap dish such as this, but it worked so well and I will be using the idea in the future.
In regards to the parathas, they were crispy rather than soft as they are meant to be. This didn’t really faze me as the crispy texture went really well with the flavoursome chicken.
The best part of this dish for me was the hot chilli onion salad. It was so moreish and zingy and went incredibly well with the rest of the dish.
I also added a homemade mint and lime raita to the dish (recipe below) I feel this added an extra flavour and was great for dipping!
Tip: If you want an even lighter dish then scrap the bread altogether and simply double up the ingredients for the salad adding other ingredients to bulk it out such as fresh mint, fresh coriander, cucumber, shredded cabbage or grated carrot.
If you want to give this recipe a go (and I think you should!) Check it out here
MINT AND LIME RAITA
Use a pestle and mortar to make a paste out of about 15 mint leaves, 1 garlic clove, a good grind of salt and half a squeezed lime, Mix this into 5 tablespoons of plain yogurt and serve!