In our cooking series Quickies, we invite chefs, bartenders, and other personalities in the world of food and drink who are serious hustlers to share their tips and tricks for preparing quick, creative after-work meals. Every dish featured in Quickies takes under 30 minutes to make, but without sacrificing any deliciousness—these are tried-and-tested recipes for the super-busy who also happen to have impeccable taste.
"In India, there is a whole culture where fast food is slow food. Kathi rolls are fast food, made fresh on the streets. And if you don't have anything in the house, it's the best stopgap dinner—you just need eggs and flour."
After growing up in Kolkata in east India, Harneet Baweja now calls London his home. He opened Gunpowder, a modern Indian restaurant near Spitalfields Market, earlier this year and soon began raking in the rave reviews.
"This kathi egg roll recipe has got me out of the doghouse so many times because it reminds my wife of home. It reminds us both of home," says Baweja with a smile. "It is so easy to make, 100-percent cheap, and you can fill the roll with any leftovers you have lying about."
Baweja begins by weighing out atta (ground wheat) in a large mixing bowl and adding water and whole milk, a few spoonfuls at a time.
"You don't have to add milk but I'm doing it here because it makes the mixture bind together more easily," he explains. "And you want to be able to make this easily."
Baweja adds: "The kathi egg roll is such a versatile recipe. My mom does a version of this where she puts spinach in the bread mixture which is fantastic, and comes out looking a lovely green." Next comes the most work you'll do all evening: the kneading. Baweja advises not to scrimp on the elbow grease: "Don't be tempted keep adding more liquid. Keep kneading the dough and it'll come together."
But he's got a get-out clause if you're really knackered.
"You can buy pre-made dough and roll it straight out," he says. "But I think this will taste better. Plus, kneading is good for you." When the dough is ready, Baweja sets it aside. He then whisks eggs with salt and chili powder and prepares a quick salad with raw red onion, green chili, lime, and coriander.
Now, it's time to roll. Baweja breaks off a golf ball-sized piece of dough and flattens it.
"I'm using a chakla and belan [an Indian circular board and rolling pin] but you can use a normal rolling pin," says Baweja. "The circular board is meant to help make the bread perfectly round. But that never seems to happen …" When the dough has been rolled out into (rough) circles, ghee is heated in a saucepan. "You can use any oil you like but for me, ghee is best," explains Baweja. "It's what I was brought up with. You can buy it but to make it, all you have to do is cook down whole milk (don't try using low-fat milk), until it splits."
The bread is cooked in the saucepan and put to one side. More ghee is added to the pan and the egg mixture is poured in. "Then you want to put the bread on top of the egg, with the side that's been cooked slightly longer face down," explains Baweja. "Now flip the bread and egg over to cook the other side of the bread completely."
And his top tip for flipping? "Always edge the bread towards the top edge of the pan before flipping. Don't flip straight up." Once the eggy bread is ready, Baweja slides it onto a plate and starts filling the roll with the onion salad.
"You can add anything you want to the roll because the egg and bread provides a neutral base. For me, I like to add chicken," he says. "My mom used to make this but with a lot more effort. She made it a dish. She'd put chicken and cottage cheese, that she would make from scratch, inside."
Even without a mother's touch, these kathi egg rolls will still hit the spot.