The weather has been playing havoc in Los Angeles. After weeks of sunshine and really good weather, this morning I woke up to some gloomy, moody weather. You know the days when you want to curl up in bed, watch a couple of episodes of your favorite TV show, and drink some hot coffee. Such days for me are the days I miss my comfort food. These are generally comprised of Indian street food, ranging from samosas, chaat, vada pav, to my all time favorite dosas and coconut chutney. Today I decided to experiment making some chilli paneer frankies. I've always wondered about the origin of the word "frankie" for this famous Indian street food. Popularly known as 'Kati roll' in Kolkata, this form of paratha or roti wrapped in different kinds of meat or vegetables with spices originated in 1932 at Nizam hotel (Hogg Street, New Market, Kolkata), a popular eating joint for the British babus. The original Kati roll was made with kati kebab rolled up in a paratha. This kind of roll had its origin in Mughlai traditions, heavily influenced by Central Asian cuisine, particularly Afghani cuisine which had a tradition of making meat wraps with Afghani bread or Naan-e-Afghani. The roots of the Mughals in Kolkata (then called Bengal) can be traced back to 12th century when Bakhtiyar Khilji a military general in King Qutub-ud-din Aybak's regime conquered Bengal and other parts of Eastern India, thus spreading Islamic rule to these parts of the country. The Kati roll must have began as an Indian version of a wrap commonly found in Central Asian cuisine (modern day döner kebab).
Now you must be wondering what is the connection between a 'Kati roll' and a 'Frankie'. Well, they are essentially the same except, according to me, the paratha in the Kati roll is first partly fried in oil on a tawa and then cooked with an egg. This egg is broken onto the tawa, and the semi-cooked paratha is cooked on it. Hence one side of the paratha gets coated with the egg. In a frankie, the egg is mostly avoided. However, there is also another story for the origin of the frankie. This version appeared first in 1967 in Mumbai (then Bombay), in the Western part of India, when Amarjit Tibbs an Indian businessman returned back to India after being sent to London on some work. He stopped over at Beirut, Lebanon where he encountered the Wimpy's burger. According to Mr. Tibbs, a frankie is a mix between the German Frankfurter, a British Wimpy's beef burger and a Beirut boti kebab. The name 'frankie' is supposed to be based on his favorite cricketer Frank Worrell who passed away in 1967. It could also have been a short form of the German Frankfurter.
Today, the Kati roll or Frankie has become a popular food item with many variations and innovative fillings. My favorite version of this is made with paneer. You can try different fillings too, scrambled eggs, spicy potatoes, cauliflower etc. The idea is to innovate and come up with something sumptuous.
Easy chilli paneer frankie
Roti/Paratha-- 4 (I used roti bought from the Indian store. It's called 'desi roti' and comes in packets of 12 available for $2.99)
Paneer- 1, chopped
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Tomato- 1 medium, chopped
Bell pepper- 1 medium, chopped
Thai green chillies- 4, chopped
Cilantro- a bunch, chopped
Oil- 2 tbsp
Chilli sauce- 2 tbsp
Jalapeño sauce- 2 tbsp
Soya sauce- 2 tbsp
Ketchup- 2 tbsp
Salt- to taste
1. Finely chop the onion, tomato, bell pepper, chillies, and cilantro and keep aside.
2. This is the easy version of making chilly paneer, so you need atleast 3 sauces- soya sauce, chilli sauce, and spicy jalapeño sauce. Ketchup is optional. If you use tomatoes, you can avoid the ketchup. If you want it only mildly spicy, you can add both tomatoes and ketchup.
3. Heat up oil. Add in onions. Fry till they are translucent. Add in chillies, bell peppers. Saute for 2 minutes and add the tomatoes. Next add in the cilantro. When the tomato gets all mushy, add in the sauces and saute till the mixture becomes dry. Chop up the paneer into smaller pieces and mix it into the mixture. Add salt. Simmer on fire for about 5 minutes and keep aside.
4. Heat up the rotis on a hot griddle. Keep aside.
5. For garnishing, chop up some onions and grate some parmesan or cheddar cheese. This is optional. You can also optional use chopped chilli pieces.
6. Now to make the frankie. On a roti, spread the chilli paneer mixture in the middle. Garnish with onions and cheese. Roll it up from side to side. Cover it up in tissue or cellophane foil. Yummy frankies are now ready!
Serve this hot with some piping hot Indian masala tea. Perfect for a cloudy and gloomy day!