Calcutta or Kolkata, The City of Joy is a city known by many names and painted in many hues. It is also the place which I call home and where I spent the first 21 years of my life.
If you have had your hands on The City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre, you would know what I am talking about. It is a place that embraces a stranger with warmth and love. The former capital of British India, Kolkata is an intriguing collage of the British imperial culture and architecture combined with the rich Bengali traditions, philosophy and literature, and intertwined with all the elements of the modern life. It is obviously a place woven with magic for me.
Sharing a laughter, being kind and making each other happy are some integral characteristics of friendship, and that is what I share with Shulie of Food Wanderings. I met her in Twitter-land less than a year ago and we share conversation and laughs as we would do if we were sitting on a couch and chatting like old friends do. Doing a guest post for her wonderful blog is exciting and I am truly honored that she cared to ask me. Now if you are not already familiar with Shulie’s blog, you should hop over and see the beautiful recipes she has and which reflects the cuisine and stories of the Mediterraneans and India. The food is delicious, the style is chatty yet informative, and of course lovely photographs , is what her blog is made of – a space created with love of food, family and her home. You can also find her in Twitter – @foodwanderings, or “like” her Food Wanderings in Facebook.
When Shulie asked me to contribute to her Indian Street Food series, I could think of nothing else but these Egg Rolls, without which the streets of Kolkata are unthinkable.
No I am not talking about the delicious little neatly rolled crispy Asian rolls. What I have here for you today is a roll, that sells like hot cake in both the upscale and obscure street corners and alleys of Kolkata, mostly on street carts or tiny corner shops. The sellers are swift and efficient, cooking up multiple parathas (layered bread cooked on a griddle) in one huge skillet, simultaneously breaking eggs with a single tap with immense perfection and rolling up the “Rolls” to hand them over to eager waiting hands, wrapped in a thin pale paper.
So you see, they are more of a “Wrap” than a “Roll” – a “wrap” snug with comfort, a “wrap” just for you, with love from the streets of Kolkata.
The customers standing there are usually hungry…office goers, workers and college students satiating their lunch time cravings or trying to shake off their tiredness while going back from work and school. The crowd of people thronging the stalls come from all classes of life – think of a New York Street side stall. Kids in jeans, enterprising men in ties and suits, women with makeup and high heels, business men, hard hat construction workers and tourists. The street side stalls provide a platform for intermingling, a state of friendship? for along with the Rolls, smiles are exchanged and conversation begins, while the Rolls get cooked….
The healthy delicious eggs are broken deftly.
The parathas are fresh, cooked almost when ordered…
…The onions and the cucumbers are lined up, drizzle of lime/lemon juice and some black pepper;
The wrap will feel hot to your fingers, so hot that you have to switch hands for the first few seconds.
And once your skin has adjusted to the temperature of the hot fresh roll, you will hold the tip of the paper and slowly start tearing for a bite. You only tear a little swirl at a time and the first bite is bliss; you have to trust me on this.
It is a complete meal - filling and fulfilling at the same time. And you see, us those who hail from the Calcutta (Kolkata now) – The City of Joy in real sense, never ever tire of this! I have loved them as a child, had innumerable of them while in college and crave for them even now. Since I am away from home for many years now, and I miss the street stalls, I have to make my own Egg Rolls. It has not been difficult to reciprocate the street side taste, (well except for the ketchup, for they do have some secret ingredient in those bottles which might not be healthy but tastes darn good)… for I have seen these made over and over again.
Now head over to Food Wanderings to take a little bite and savor the taste of Kolkata and see how they get done perfectly at home!