Most of us are all too familiar with the often mediocre and occasionally good kebab that herald from the Middle East, yet few of us have been acquainted with the kati roll, India’s answer to this much loved (and hated) street food. If Dominion Road is the place to go for dumplings, then K’ Road is the place to go for kebabs. Having celebrated its second birthday last month, I thought it was high time I visit Kati Grill on K’ Road to see what all the fuss was about.
And what a fuss people should make. I shan’t want for a tabouleh and hummus-filled kebab anytime soon having sampled the kati rolls at Kati Grill. A bright and white, hole-in-the-wall joint next to K’ Road’s Ironbank, Kati Grill serves kati rolls, a popular Indian street food consisting of a paratha (flat bread) wrapped around a layer of egg and meat that has been roasted in the tandoor oven. The menu consists mostly of kati rolls with some familiar fillings (chicken tikka masala, butter chicken) and some less recognisable (chicken hariyali, reshmi chicken); there are also a large number of vegetarian and vegan options that my vegetarian dining companion Sam ogled with glee. For the carb-phobics you can remove the paratha and order a meat or paneer platter instead. There are a small number of rice-based mains and some interesting sounding sides, including masala chips, crunchy munchy corn and filled parathas.
I ordered a lamb seekh kati roll combo ($13.80), which came with a side of masala chips and a bottled soft drink whilst Sam ordered the veggie kati roll combo and a mango lassi ($15.50). Feeling greedy, I also ordered a side of paneer pakoda ($4.90) for us to share. Although Kati Grill would class itself as ‘fast food’, it certainly came a lot slower than its namesake would suggest. But neither Sam nor I minded as there were plenty of tables and seating to wait at: in my mind, my kati roll was being lovingly cooked and wrapped in the way that most fast-food places fail to do. Sam’s mango lassi was a gorgeous golden yellow with an honest mango flavour, although it was disconcertingly thick and creamy compared to the lassies we were used to, the texture more dessert-like than drink-like. Our kati rolls were first to arrive, cutely packaged in colourful cardboard tubes reminiscent of McDonald’s hot apple pies. The paratha that encased my seekh kebab was nicely chewy and lightly blistered all over; the seekh kebab itself was pleasingly red from the tandoor marinade and fragrantly spicy as requested (they cater for mild palates as well). The lamb was lean and tender, with the accompanying sautéed onions and peppers adding a nice crunch, whilst the mint chutney was tangy and warm with ginger. Then came the masala chips, followed by the paneer pakoda, both of which were hot and fresh from the deep fryer. I feel like I’ve discovered India’s answer to the much loved KFC fries; coated in several different aromatic spices, the masala chips were ridiculously moreish. The paneer pakoda were slices of Indian cottage cheese, coated in a chickpea batter reddened with spices and then flash fried till crispy, before finally being sprinkled with the mysterious masala concoction and served alongside their mint chutney. These were surprisingly bland for my taste despite their spicy treatment although texture-wise it ticked all the boxes.
Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner out or a early-morning kebab to soak up the residual alcohol leftover from a night out, if you love a bit of spice or have a hankering for something out of the ordinary, then you should try Kati Grill.
146 Karangahape Rd
This review was originally written for Cheap Eats.