This is how the story always goes. Chicago O’hare International Airport —> New York Laguardia Airport —> The Kati Roll Company. No matter what time of the day or night I arrive at Laguardia (and we all know how timely those flights between Chicago and New York are…NOT) it is without fail that I head straight from the airport directly to The Village for my favorite New York treat, kati roll. And when I say anytime, I literally mean it… I have been there at 12pm or 4am and everything in between.
Now, when I say I, I mean we. I am only able to uphold this ridiculous ritual because of my dear brother Niral. He not only is an amazing brother who always picks me up from Laguardia, but he doesn’t even need to ask; it is an unstated understanding we have as siblings who share a common love for kati roll and just go directly to this hole in the wall from the airport. I am one lucky sister that is for sure!
A kati roll, is basically like an Indian burrito. There are all different choices of fillings from marinated paneer (cheese cubes), to spiced potatoes to chicken, lamb, shrimp etc which are wrapped up burrito style in a chapatti (like a whole wheat tortilla). I think there may be a chutney (sauce) inside as well. Quite honestly, for as many times as I have had kati roll, I’ve never bothered to open it up and see what was actually on the inside. I’m usually on cloud 9 of happiness that I just polish the thing off and relish in the joy of one of my favorite things.
I have only tried one type of kati roll which is a good and bad thing. Good, because I know exactly what I want each time. Bad, because I don’t think I will ever venture out and try something new (how devastating to try something new on my one chance there, not like it and then regret not getting what I love). The best one and my fav is the Achari Paneer Roll. It is paneer that has been marinated in Indian spices and grilled, along with grilled onions and green peppers. Some additional chutney is added before it is rolled up in the chapatti. You can get it extra spicy with fresh jalepenos, but the one time I did this my lips were literally burning all night, so I haven’t ventured to try that again!
The kati roll is served warm and definitely is best eaten before you leave the small, cramped little dive. A few times my brother and I have picked the kati rolls up and brought them home to eat and they definitely weren’t as tasty as when you eat them right away.
Here’s a funny side note to clarify how amazing I think NYC’s kati rolls are. I was visiting Bombay about a year ago when we stumbled on an awesome restaurant called Swati Snacks (see future blog post). Now recognize that Bombay has an unbelievable culinary scene and is probably the birthplace of the kati roll. I was ecstatic when I saw kati roll on the menu at Swati Snacks and ordered one. It was going to be my very first chance to actually have something to compare the NYC version to (since I haven’t come across kati rolls anywhere else in the US). While I was eating the Bombay kati roll, I remember specifically telling my mom, “This is really good, but I actually think the one in NYC is better. Wait, WHAT??? I can’t believe I just said that either. I must be crazy to make a statement like that!!!”
So, there you have it. You don’t need to go all the way to Bombay to have the best kati roll ever….NYC it is!!