At one point in my life, I was talking with a lot more people from West Bengal than anywhere else. They were classmates in college, and sometimes hostel mates, but I soaked up a lot of their stories and culture from Calcutta - the street food, Durga Pooja, Bhang, the food in general, game of cards and so on and so forth. One of my friend’s Dad wrote this book ‘Paye paye prithvi’ which was written in Bengali, and we would always talk about translating it to English. I have heard that story page to page about her father’s life in Europe. How he travelled by feet from Italy to Denmark in the 1960’s I think.
In all this, being away from home, and living in hostels, food is remembered by all of us most vividly. As we suffered with badly cooked rice, roti or curry we reminisced about our favorite foods back home. Another friend’s eyes would light up every time she was back from her vacation in Calcutta. She would talk about street food, ogling guys, wearing the latest trend, and eating street food like nobody’s business. If someone knew to romanticize a place she knew it best. That is how I first heard about egg rolls. I learned to make it much later.
When I was working in Hyderabad, and living in a flat with my cousins, our neighbors happened to be a newly married Bengali couple. Of course, I got on with them famously! I was excited to share everything I know about Calcutta with my new friends. I think secretly the lady of the house encouraged me to talk half- baked information because she was away from her mother for the first time and obviously missing her hometown. When her husband traveled, we would go out on walks and share stories. By then, I was cooking quite regularly and learned to make kitchidi, potato bajji, kheer, etc. from this friend. She is the one who also taught me egg rolls. Every time we made this at home, she would keep telling me it could never be as good as the ones they brought from the street vendor. But of course, I never wrote down any of her recipes, but I would watch her cook and learn. Here is what she taught me and you will need to know how to make rotis or buy frozen parathas to make this.
Eggs - 2
Onions - ¼ thinly sliced
Green Chilies - 1 chopped
Cucumber - 1 peeled, seeded and finely chopped
Lemon/vinegar – a little for taste
Oil – 1 tbspn
1. Heat oil in a pan. Beat 1 egg and pour in. Reduce the flame or heat to medium low.
2. Once the egg starts cooking, and is still wet on top place a cooked roti or chapatti over it. Continue cooking till egg is not runny. To test, I gently press a pan cake flipper over the roti and look if the egg is runny. Do the same with the remaining roti and eggs.
1. In a bowl mix together onions, chilies and cucumber. Add a sqeeze of lime or a little vinegar and salt for taste.
2. Sqeeze a line of tomato ketchup on the roti with the egg side up. .
3. Add a spoon or two of the filling and roll
4. Using butter paper or foil, wrap it and then you can enjoy them hand held. The tomato ketchup and cucumber will make it soggy so it is recommended to eat them as they are made.