The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Roll-loving South Kolkatans

A common thread among South Kolkatans is their fixation for roll. Every typical South Kolkatan has a yearn for this. Teenagers to elderly people, young housewives to grandmothers, students to corporate executives and businessmen to labourers- everybody just swear by this wonder snack of Kolkata. Roll is popular across Kolkata, but in South Kolkata it is a supreme dominating force while it comes to snacking options.

Roll, as many would know, was invented in Kolkata at Nizam's, a central Kolkata Mughlai restaurant, quite a few decades back. That was mutton roll. And then, after a couple of decades, egg roll was born and won over all. Roll is now synonymous with egg roll. If you just order a 'roll' in any roll shop you will be served an egg roll.

In South Kolkata (Also Kolkata per se) non-veg varieties rule the roost, starting from the basic egg roll to the super specialities like chicken saslik roll (Made with chicken saslik kebab). Veg variants were never favourite with Bengalis who dominate the roll consumer population. But of late veg roll (With meshed potatoes, beet, carrot etc) and paneer roll are quite visible everywhere. Every non-veg variety is yummy (Telling from experience) and the trendsetters in South Kolkata roll joints are dishing out yummier, innovative varieties with times. Basic and bestselling varieties are egg roll and chicken roll.

South Kolkata has it's own variants- like Tikia roll and chicken saslik roll. You won't possibly find tikia roll much in North or Central Kolkata. It's a non-veg category. There are fish tikia roll, chicken tikia roll and mutton tikia roll. Even it has got fish kebab rolls for the fish-crazy Bengali. I won't recommend a fish variant though from , as I think the result of experimentation with fish in the roll arena is not palatable. Even leading joints can't get it right.

Also here the chicken and mutton rolls are made with kebabs (Similar to posh parts of Central Kolkata), unlike North Kolkata where kosha mangsho (Gravy chiecken/ mutton) is used instead.

One leading joint is Bedwin, without which Gariahat, the heart of South Kolkata would be incomplete. It has a huge hardcore loyal customer base and as huge a range of rolls. I heard from such a loyalist that in the beginning of the month she orders chicken roll, but towards the end her orders change to egg roll, for the cash crunch. Bawarchi, which is a snack bar chain, is another hot joint. It has successfully introduced innovations like Roll No. 1 and Y2K. In Roll No. 1, they use a boiled egg.

The prices range from Rs 8 (Egg roll) to Rs 25 (Chicken saslik roll). So there is a roll for every pocket. Enjoy !!