These Chicken Kathi Rolls were truly a culinary adventure for me.
Although I love dining on Indian food, I’m not well-versed in cooking from South Asia, also known as the Indian subcontinent. I have made aloo paratha (potato-stuffed flatbread) and Murgh Makani (Indian butter chicken). However, both of those recipes came from others through the Secret Recipe Club. That group, now defunct, was fun. Each month participants chose a recipe from another, designated blogger to make and post. I often got to expand my food horizons with recipes from other cultures and countries.
But this time was different. I wouldn’t have another blogger’s recipe to follow – or would I? My friend Ansh Dhar chose an Indian picnic as her Progressive Eats theme this month. As I wondered how I would ever figure out what to make, I looked on my kitchen counter. Three beautiful jars of homemade spice blends beckoned me, gifts from Anshie when she visited DC this past winter.
Ansh is not only fun, she is kind and generous. So when I got in touch with her, asking for suggestions for the Indian picnic theme using her spice blends, she responded with more help than I could have reasonably wished for. Not only did she suggest kathi rolls (also called kati or frankie rolls), she explained how to use 2 of her spice blends to make them, gave me a shortcut for the wraps, and pointed me to a video that explains how to put kathi rolls together.
After hours of scouring many posts and videos and consulting with her, I’ve come up with these Easy Chicken Kathi Rolls. But before we get to the recipe, a few tips.
Tips on Making Chicken Kathi Rolls (Also known as Kati or Frankie Rolls)
- Wraps – Ansh suggested using tortillas as a substitute for homemade flatbread or parathas. I used smaller-sized flour tortillas. Alternatively, you could use corn tortillas for a gluten-free version. If you’re determined to make parathas, check out my aloo parathas for the basic recipe and steps.
- Marinade – My recipe (from Ansh) calls for 2 kinds of garam masala. She says that you can find them in any grocery that carries South Asian ingredients. If you can’t source them from a store, it’s easy to blend your own using an online recipe as a guide. (Remember, garam masala is not curry powder. The latter is not really Indian at all, but a British invention.)
- Filling – I used chicken as my principal filling. For a vegetarian version, use paneer, a non-melty cheese that you can even make from scratch. For a vegan version, skip the egg and use tofu. While you can grill the chicken, I cooked mine in the oven. Whichever way you do it, make sure the internal temperature of the cooked chicken is 165 degrees.
- Add-ins – The deeper I went down the online Kathi roll rabbit hole, the more I realized that anything goes when it comes to add-ins. I used pickled red onions, chutney, cilantro, lime juice and an adaptation of a sauce I saw online. Certainly, feel free to improvise. As far as I can tell, there are no rules. Except that you have to be able to close up the roll and serve it when you’re done stuffing it.
- Putting the chicken kathi rolls together – I’m a visual person, so watching someone put kathi rolls together was infinitely more helpful than reading instructions for how to do it. If you’re with me on that, watch my video and see how easy it is. (PS – Although I used lime juice from sliced limes in the photos, I forgot to add lime juice as a topping during the video. All the toppings are optional so it really doesn’t matter, but I noticed it afterwards and didn’t want to confuse you.)
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. The host chooses the theme for the month. Then members share recipes on that theme suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. So come along and see all of the delicious Indian Picnic inspired dishes!
An Indian Picnic
- Indian Meatballs with Yogurt Sauce – That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Sweet Potato Chaat – SpiceRoots
- Onion Pakoras – Indian Fritters with Spicy Sauce – Creative Culinary
- Aloo Paratha – Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Kati Rolls With Chicken and Egg – Mother Would Know
- Lamb Meatballs in the Instant Pot – Shockingly Delicious
- Indian-Style Beef Kabobs with Cilantro – Coconut Sauce – From a Chef’s Kitchen
- Indian Street Tacos with Grilled Shrimp – Beyond Mere Sustenance
Chicken Kathi Rolls
With several shortcuts, these chicken kathi rolls are a fabulous way to enjoy Indian street food. You can customize them with any toppings you like - make them spicy or not. Any which way, they're delicious!
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste or minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste or minced fresh garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika (hot, sweet, smoked or a combination) or red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon Tandoori masala
- 1/2 teaspoon dried fennel leaves (optional)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt (nonfat, low, or full fat)
- 2 teaspoons oil (any type - canola, corn, grapeseed, olive, safflower, etc.)
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, either breasts or thighs, cut into 1 to 2-inch cubes
- 8 paratha or burrito (flour tortilla) shells about 8-inches in diameter
- 1-2 tablespoons oil, ghee, butter or a combination
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup pickled red onions
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup chutney
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- lime wedges (squeeze juice over the roll before closing)
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup mixture of yogurt, minced jalapeno, dash of cumin, squeeze of lime juice, and small dollop of minced garlic or garlic paste
In a medium-sized bowl, mix all the ingredients together except for the chicken.
Add the chicken cubes and mix again to completely cover the cubes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or start the grill. If using the oven, cover a half-sheet pan with foil with a wire rack on top. Lightly spray the rack with cooking oil.
Take the cubes out of the refrigerator and thread them on skewers. Allow most of the yogurt/spice marinade to remain on the cubes, but there will still be some left in the bowl. (Because it had raw chicken marinating in it, you must throw this excess out.) Place the skewers on the wire rack or the grill. Cook until done, turning occasionally. It will probably take 20-30 minutes. If using the oven you may need to turn on the broiler at the end to get crusty edges on the chicken cubes.
Making the Chicken Kathi Rolls (see video)
Heat one tablespoon of the oil on a grill or in a large, heavy pan. Once it is shimmering hot, add 1-2 shells (depending on size of grill) and cook on both sides, turning occasionally, until the shells are warmed and slightly puffy.
Lift up a shell, add a dollop of the beaten egg (about 1/2 an egg), and put the shell on top. Let the egg with the shell on top cook for a few minutes. The egg should adhere to the shell. When it's done, lift up the shell and put it on a plate.
Once you have cooked the shells, lay them out with the egg-side on the top. Add the 3-4 cubes of the cooked chicken (taking the cubes off the skewers as you fill the shells) and then put on the toppings. Close each shell and enjoy!
If you use bamboo or wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 5 minutes before adding the chicken cubes. That soaking prevents them from burning when you place them in the oven or on the grill.
Breast (white meat) cooks more quickly than thigh (dark) meat, so plan accordingly. In either event, make sure the chicken cubes are fully cooked. The best way to test is to use an instant read thermometer. The internal temperature for the cubes, regardless of whether they are breast or thigh meat, should be 165 degrees F according to the FDA.
I used store-bought chutney for this batch. In the future, I will try my homemade apple and caramelized onion chutney.
Here is a recipe for easy pickled red onions,