#Flavourofthemonth with Kolkati

SUNSHINES!

I’m so sorry that your home slice has been MIA for the past couple of weeks. A loooooot has been going on in the life of me recently, but of course, nothing can ever excuse my absence, so again, I am very sorry. I want to make you a promise that from now on, you’re going to hear from me every week. If I break that promise then you can pull me up on it (you can even write in caps, so it’s like you’re shouting).

Yes.

Every week.

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I’m not going to babble on for too long with my apology before I sound like a beg friend but to seal my sorry, I’m giving you a special sumn sumn…

From now on, every month I will be releasing a ‘#Flavourofthemonth’ post that will showcase how diverse the food scene is. The content of the posts will vary from interviews, to cooking tips, to recipes or even food hacks, BUT they’ll all be from experienced street food vendors or restaurateurs AND they’ll all contain pictures of beautiful, mouth watering, eye poppin’, lip parting FOOD.

Sometimes we can get caught up eating the same thing over and over again, so this will give us all a chance to find new dishes to sink our teeth into. This month, I caught up with lovely Kate, co-founder of the street food stall Kolkati to find out more about what they do!

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Photo credit: Eden Bokrezion

Guys, they make the most deeeeeeeelicious kati rolls. If you don’t know what they are or have never (sadly) tried them, then don’t worry, imma change your life with this post. Also, thanks to my day1 Eden B and Papa jalvez, I’ve got some lovely pictures for you to illustrate how POPPIN it is.

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Photo credit: Eden Bokrezion

They’re absolutely divine, and I bet you 5 Haribo hearts that your mouth will be watering by the end of this post. Kolkati don’t hold back on flavour, so you’ll really get a great mix of the rich, bold and authentic Indian spices that you’ve been searching for your whole life. SO, if you do anything this week then make sure you get down to KERB Camden market for a slice of heaven.

Now, here’s the sauce…

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Photo credit: Jessica Alves

#Flavourofthemonth Interview with Kate from Kolkati

Hi Kate! For those of us who haven’t yet had the chance to try a kati roll, could you please tell us what they are?

Kati rolls are a street food snack that originated in Kolkata but now you can now find them all over North India. A whisked egg is cooked onto one side of a paratha bread (Indian flat bread) then its filled with various fillings like spiced meat or paneer, and sauces and garnish. We put our own twist on it and came up with our own version of it for the streets of London. So yeah, we wanted to bring the product back after we had tried it and thought it was a good, different lunch option that we hadn’t seen, and we liked the element of the egg, the bread and the richness that it brought. There’s not so many people doing it in London and so we wanted to bring something different into the street food scene that we knew was kicking off in London.

Why did kati rolls stand out for you amongst other North Indian street food dishes. What made you dedicate your stall to it?

We were constantly looking at different options and it wasn’t definite that we were going to do them. We were definitely going to do Indian food because it made the most sense. It’s our favourite cuisine, and we spent a lot of time travelling there. A lot of the products that we found and had there were known here, and we liked the idea of taking a product that was different. We wanted to have our own angle because we knew how competitive it would be, and I guess we wanted to stand out in a way…and we really love them!

What do you love about Indian food?

I’m half Indian so I guess it’s part of having that in the family with my grandma’s cooking. Also, just the impact of flavour and spices. There’s nothing like it.

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Photo credit: Eden Bokrezion

Creating the perfect flavour for a dish can be very frustrating, particularly when it has so many different components like a kati roll. What was the process to perfecting your recipe?

I had already tried the chutneys before – I used to make them a lot. The green sauce that we use is my grandma’s recipe, and we just add yogurt to it to make it into a raita, so I guess we incorporate family recipes. The filling was about trying different masalas and different mixes of spices, so then when we put it all together, I think we were almost a bit surprised by how well it worked. I think what really binds it together is the tamarind and date chutney; a lot of our Indian customers do enjoy it, but they say it’s not typical of kati rolls. In terms of our kati roll, the sweet sourness brings it all together. The tang connects all the sweet and sour flavours, and the lime. I think that that’s the gel of the product. It just means that you can taste the things individually. Then we cook everything fresh on site, so there are pros and cons to that.

I guess with cooking, you can only know what works until you try it. Do you experiment a lot when creating your recipes?

When we come up with recipes we just have an idea, try new things, see what didn’t work and try again to get it perfect so that we can get the flavours to cut through.

What are the most valuable cooking tips that you have learnt throughout your experiences?

Just go with instincts and don’t worry about experience. Keep tasting and trying to identify everything that you’re putting in and what that’s doing and bringing as an overall taste, and yeah just keep trying with different combinations. Balance is key. I haven’t had any cooking training, it’s just comes out of creating something that you enjoy. Getting creative is good, and that’s what is so great about street food. It’s from creativity and passion, and from people really honing in on a product or interest, which means that the stuff is really good. It’s not this big menu and everything is a bit mediocre, but every single product you get in street food is the best it can be, so that’s what is really great. A variety of people from different backgrounds helping each other out as well. Plus, I do have friends that come from a chef background, so if I do have any questions about the technique of how I cook something on a big scale, then they’re always there to help out, but you always learn along the way.

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Photo credit: Eden Bokrezion

Why did you decide to go into street food?

I think that it was becoming a popular trend at the time, and it just felt more doable. I was never that confident about being able to set up a business, but when we got back from travelling I started working on a few other people’s street food stalls and it kind of gives you the insight, and shows you that it is doable. You can set something up and you can do it. It was partly the fun community element and the simplicity of trading. You’re there on the street, your customers are there, you’re having a direct dialogue. There’s something about how basic it is. Jack and I (my partner) came out of University and didn’t know what we wanted to do. We were a bit disillusioned by the different options, and we didn’t feel suited to a lot of jobs that were out there. We had kind of worked for different food businesses or hospitality, or pubs, or restaurants, so without realising we had both picked up a lot of experience. When we found this as an option and started to do it, we realised that we had kind of – without knowing it – picked up some of the skills or insight to doing it. It was a good realisation.

A lot of people come out of university and think that they should either do a graduate scheme, or work in an office job, but if that doesn’t fit who you are, or your skills or your interests then you can become very unhappy. What gave you the push to start your own business?

We just went all guns blazing. As soon as we had the idea to start, we just went in as hard as we could, and tried to make as many contacts, as well do as much as we could. We learnt along the way, and didn’t try to perfect anything like our brand. It was a bit rough and ready at the start, whereas I think that a lot of people spend time trying to have something more professional, but we just wanted to get into the trade and get to know people, and learnt along the way. It paid off for us, so everything developed very quickly. Then when we got in to Camden last year it was a great learning curve and a big shock to the system because we suddenly had to be there 7 days a week and had no staff. That’s when we started to build it into a proper business I guess, which is still a work in progress, but it’s always hard for any business owner to get everything covered – so you just do the best you can.

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Photo credit: Eden Bokrezion

What do you find to be the most challenging and rewarding aspects of running Kolkati?

The most challenging I would say has been managing people, and knowing the right way to go about doing that to gain respect. That’s been really challenging, because when you’re a young business owner and you’re employing people that are older than you, it can be a weird dynamic. When you’re young, you don’t know how to command respect or authority as much, so getting taken seriously can be difficult. The most rewarding part is getting to meet other traders who are doing the same thing alongside you but with a different perspective, and seeing such a positive, creative bunch of people with great ideas. Doing something different every day has always been by aim and my dream. It’s definitely a varied lifestyle. Then, creating something that’s yours is very valuable and rewarding. Having an idea and seeing it through is great. Not many people have the opportunity to do that in their jobs, so that’s really rewarding as well.

When I go on social media I find that everyone is talking uber positively about Kolkati. What do you think makes your stall so unique?

Maybe because it’s something a bit different. We have a lot of Indian customers who really appreciate someone on the streets doing kati rolls and bringing the flavours that we’re bringing. It’s about being bold as well. We don’t have chilli sauce. If someone wants chilli, then they get a chopped up green chilli, and I think that people really like that In London. We never chop enough chilli for lunch, so we always have to go to the back to chop more. Everyone loves orange too, it’s a great colour!

Which tips would you give someone hoping to dive into the food industry?

Don’t be held back by trying to be perfect straight off, and just get your teeth into it and meet as many people as you can. Use social media. It’s amazing, it’s a free marketing tool that we don’t have to pay for nowadays and it’s amazing for getting an audience, and getting people interested in what you’re doing. Also, partner with someone that can drive!

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Photo credit: Eden Bokrezion

Finally, where can we find you?

You can find us every Thursday at West India Quay, every single day at KERB Camden market…but not on Christmas day, and not for 10 days in August because we’re getting new units installed – but every day other than that. Then other sporadic spots which you find if you follow us at @Kolkati on Twitter Facebook and Instagram!

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Photo credit: Eden Bokrezion

You are MOST welcome folks!

2 thoughts on “#Flavourofthemonth with Kolkati

  1. Hi Jalves

    Thanks for shedding light on the Kati Rolls… never heard of them but they look AMAZING! I will be heading down to Camden at the end of August to try one (or 2 or 3)! This was a great read… so lovely to hear the backstory.. thank you for telling it!

    Like

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