A tiny joint a few blocks from campus called Roti Roll routinely stayed open until 4am. I remember deliriously shoving my face into a roll after a night out, heedless of the mounting chilli heat until it was too late. More recently, I fell in love with the Paneer Roomali Roll at Dishoom, from which this recipe takes some inspiration.
Kathi rolls – sometimes known as frankies – are a story of simple pleasures. Hailing originally from Kolkata and now a popular street-food staple far and wide, they typically feature meat, paneer, chickpeas, potatoes or other hearty fillings wrapped in a flatbread – parathas, rotis and chapatis are all common options – and frequently augmented with chutney, shredded vegetables and other fixings. The best ones are substantial, indulgent, fragrant, zingy: perfectly designed to hit every pleasure point in the brain.
When I found myself with too much milk this week – my partner and I had each bought two litres without checking with the other – I decided to use most of it to make paneer.
At-home cheesemaking might sound intimidating, but paneer is incredibly easy: simply bring the milk to the boil, remove from the heat, add several tablespoons of lemon juice and, when the milk curdles, strain the solids into a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Let it drain, wrap it up and press it under a heavy pot for a few hours, and you've done it! (I found 3 litres of milk yielded 400 grams paneer; store-bought paneer is also absolutely fine.)
After that, the paneer is bathed in a yoghurt-based marinade made fragrant with spices, then fried with bell peppers and onions – no worries if you need to adapt the spice mix to what’s already in your own cupboards. Wrapped up like a present in a piping-hot, cook-from-frozen paratha, it’s complemented by a spicy mint-and-coriander chutney and a lightning-fast slaw.
This dish feels ineffably summery to me and it works so well with tropical, New England-style IPAs. Drop Project’s beautifully balanced Crush Session New England IPA is no exception. Many accuse hazy IPAs of being hard to pair with, given their richness and intensity of flavour, but they often match well with similarly potent South and Southeast Asian curries (take the prawn and mango curry in our book, The Beer Lover's Table, as exhibit A).
The herbaceous freshness of the chutney and the muskiness of the fenugreek seeds and other spices pick up the hop-derived flavours in the beer, while the beer's rich, almost-creamy mouthfeel (its grain bill features wheat and three types of oats alongside barley) actually softens the chilli heat, unlike the enhancing effect of more astringent, West Coast-style IPAs. The fact that it’s dialled down to 4.6% ABV but loses none of its body? That just means you can crack a second can without feeling too bad about it.
Paneer Kathi Rolls
For the marinade:
100g Greek yoghurt
Juice of ½ lemon
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
½ tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cloves 400g paneer
For the chutney:
1 large handful mint
1 large handful coriander
1–2 bird's eye chillis, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small piece ginger, peeled and sliced
3–4 tablespoons Greek yoghurt
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon ground cumin Large pinch fine sea salt
For the fried paneer:
1–2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced
1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
8-10 curry leaves
3 tablespoons tomato purée (tomato paste)
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
Large handful coriander stems, roughly chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
Large pinch sea salt
4-6 parathas, chapatis, rotis or other flatbread of choice
1. First, marinate your paneer. In a medium bowl, add the yoghurt, lemon juice, salt, garlic, ginger and the spices, and mix until combined. Add the paneer and toss gently until evenly coated. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
2. As the paneer marinates, make your chutney. To a blender, add the fresh herbs, chilli(s), garlic, ginger, yoghurt, lemon juice and cumin. Season with a generous pinch of salt and add 2–3 tablespoons of water to start. Blend on high until the chutney is a completely uniform vivid green. If it's struggling to blend, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, until it blends evenly. Season to taste and set aside.
3. In a large frying pan, heat the ghee or oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for roughly 5–6 minutes, or until softened. Next, add the spices and curry leaves, and fry until fragrant and the mustard seeds begin to pop, 1–2 minutes. Add the tomato purée and mix to combine; cook for 1–2 minutes more. The mixture should be darker red and very fragrant.
4. Add the paneer and any extra marinade to the frying pan and turn the heat down to medium. Cook, gently tossing every minute or two, until the paneer is golden and any liquid from the marinade has reduced. Remove from the heat and set aside.
5. Finally, throw together a quick vegetable slaw: add the red onion, carrot and coriander stems to a medium bowl and mix to combine. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and season with a large pinch of salt.
6. To assemble your kathi rolls, dollop a tablespoon or two of chutney on your paratha and spread evenly over the surface using the back of a spoon. Arrange several spoonfuls of the paneer mixture in a line down the center of your paratha, and garnish with the slaw. Fold both sides of the paratha over to cover the paneer and wrap the bottom half of the kathi roll in parchment paper or foil to secure it. Leave some extra parchment paper or foil at the bottom, which you can fold up so no juices escape. Repeat with the remaining kathi rolls and serve right away.
Claire M Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our award-winning first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is out now and available in all good book stores (and at HB&B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and for more beers like this one, sign up for our All Killer No Filler subscription box here.