The flavour of Kolkata

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

Monday, March 30, 2015

The shawarma roll at Royal Lebanese

I had my first taste of shawarma roll at Bakers’ World on Loudon Street (which later became Cakes).  Later I tried it at Kookie Jar too (close to the Bakers’ World outlet). Didn’t like it on both occasions. A colleague told me many years later that a confectionery shop was a wrong place to have it. Shawarma roll is a middle eastern delicacy and should be had from a place like a Lebanese joint. Well, back then (when I tried it) Kolkata hadn’t opened up to Lebanese, so I didn’t have a choice either.

Thanks to the proliferation of Lebanese joints these days, two of them have come up at Hatibagan which was perceived to be a conservative market. So it was a bit of surprise to me to see one of them right at the Hatibagan junction- named Lebanese Junction. I tried its shawarma roll one evening. Well, it was enjoyable in the beginning, thanks to the finger licking good white sauce they put in it, but in the middle it started feeling dry with the sauce and the raw vegetables missing. It was pretty filling indeed. So much so that I skipped dinner. And yes, it was healthy food, something I always vote for. But the taste wasn’t inviting enough to come back. The other outlet at Hatibagan was Royal Lebanese, city’s largest Lebanese take away chain, at Shyampukur (opposite Arsalan). So I wished to try it at Royal Lebanese one day.

Meanwhile thanks to Royal and other standalone Lebanese joints and other places serving shawarma roll, backed by some media coverage, it became one of the healthy snacking choices of the city foodies. But at Rs 100 it was super premium considering the prices of popular snack foods.

I was looking for some light snacking after a bit of shopping today at City Centre Salt Lake in the evening and came across the Royal Lebanese outlet outside the mall. To my delight I found that they have started a shawarma roll at half the market price- Rs 50. Assuming it would be lighter I wasted no time to order one. And the experience was satisfactory enough for this blog post to happen. Yes, lighter it was, and tastier than the past experience too. A smaller pita bread and smaller portion of shaved chicken with chopped tomato and onion and that yummy white sauce generously put inside did the trick. That it was a healthy option was an added gratification.

Apart from the soft, flat pita bread that looks like an uncooked tandoori roti, the chicken is grilled, and not fried at all. So are the vegetables, which are served fresh and raw. All this makes it healthy. Lebanese food per se is being promoted to be a healthy food choice going against the tide of unhealthy snacks available everywhere. The other common dishes are shawarma salad (served with pita bread, it is a complete food experience in its chicken variety), various kebabs (chicken, fish and mutton, including Iranian varieties), grilled chicken items and a special one being the Arbi biriyani (cooked with olive oil).

There was one realization. At Rs 50 shawarma becomes quite competitive for chicken roll, the big brother of popular snacks, which is available at more or less Rs 30, especially for people who don’t mind paying a few bucks extra for a healthier food that can also rival on the taste front.

So making it available (along with few other popular items like shawarma salad without pita and  chicken Arbi biriyani) at an attractive price point of Rs 50 is indeed an aggressive move by Royal Lebanese, who seems to be targeting the (medium-priced) popular snacks market dominated by the likes of chicken and mutton rolls, fries & cutlets and noodles. Hoping to see more people trying it out. Next on my Royal Lebanese wishlist is Arbi biriyani.

For those interested, especially locals, they are doing free home and office delivery. Here go the contact details.

Royal Lebanese
DC 22, Sector I
Salt Lake
(Near City Centre, close to Sugarr & Spice and opposite the petrol pump and Vasan Eye Care)
Phone: 033 4064 4555/ 6460 0248, 9830611153