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Many a meaningful bond is forged over food, as one teenage daughter finds out over a dinner of Kolkata egg rolls.
By Suchismita Majumdar
There are times during one’s teenage years when one fits neither here, nor there; one kind of dangles in the middle, causing ruckus and being ticked-off. My teenage was the same; my main conflict was with my father. He, who was the darling of my childhood days, suddenly turned into a strict dad. I was thrown off balance by my father changing from an over indulgent parent to a strict one. I am sure my father must have been equally bewildered by how his pet of a daughter turned into a teenage monster. My mother usually stayed clear of these fights, refusing to take sides.
Once we, my father and I had a huge fight and then he left for an office tour. I was terribly upset and was as usual sulking by myself. But my mother had time to spare that evening. She made some egg rolls, which are nothing but parathas fried with eggs and stuffed with a simple mixture of onions and cucumbers and then rolled up. Now these rolls, as we call them in Kolkata, were absolute favourites of all teenagers. I am talking about a time before McDonalds and KFC hit the Indian market. We used to save our pocket money to buy these rolls from the roll stalls. In foodie language, an egg roll was teenage lingo. It was the cool thing to eat in those days.
So when an adult offers you some fresh egg rolls you forget your sulk and get down from your perch and come sit at the dining table to eat those. My mother also joined me and while biting into the spicy roll, she started speaking. Without putting me on the defensive, she spoke about the pressures on my father, how he had to balance everything, why he suddenly seems so strict, why things that he was cool about a few years back, he was no longer okay with and so on. I sat eating the roll, with only half an ear to her chatter. But soon enough her gentle logic penetrated through my sulking.
That evening, my mother and I chatted for a long time, long after our rolls were over. I told her how I felt, how I was confused by the change in my father, how I felt sad when she never took my side in any fight. We cleared a lot of air and she taught me to understand his perspective. It was an important lesson in life, which comes in handy even now. My relationship with my father improved slowly and once I grew through the tumultuous teenage years, we steadily got back our old understanding and now we are back to our childhood equation – as if the teenage years had never happened.
Even now, whenever I eat egg rolls I remember that evening of so many years back. The memory of my mother and me bonding over some simple homemade egg rolls makes me smile with nostalgia.
Kolkata Egg Rolls Recipe
Ingredients (Makes 4)
For the parathas
200 gms maida/flour
50 gms atta/whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
A generous pinch or two of salt
Water for mixing
For the rolls
Salt to taste
Oil to fry
One large onion, very thinly sliced
Couple of green chillies, thinly sliced
Handful of chopped coriander
Juice of a lime
½ tsp roasted cumin powder
Tomato sauce/ chilli sauce, optional
4 white napkins folded in half to hold the rolls
Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the wet ingredients a little at a time. Knead well till the flour becomes one smooth ball of medium softness. It should not be too hard, neither should it be runny. Divide it into four equal balls.
You will need to roll the balls with the help of a rolling pin. Sprinkle a little flour on the rolling board before placing the ball on it, similarly on the ball as you roll. Make a round shape and place on a heated frying pan to dry roast it. Once brown, little bumps appear on the surface, flip it over to cook the other side. Do this for all the balls. Once the parathas are dry roasted keep them aside.
Take one egg at a time, whisk it with a little salt and keep aside.
Heat one tablespoon of oil in the frying pan, pour the egg, spread it and gently place one roasted paratha on it. Fry it for a couple of minutes and then flip it over. Fry the other side. Remove from heat and pat with a kitchen towel to drain the excess oil. Repeat the process with the rest of the parathas.
Mix the onion, coriander, chillies, lime juice, salt and cumin powder and spread generously over each paratha. Some people add sauces to this too. I prefer my egg rolls without the sauces. You could also add cucumbers, peppers, carrots etc to the onion mix.
Lay a folded white napkin on the lower one fourth portion of the paratha and roll them both together. Tuck the remaining napkin inside so that the onions do not fall off.
The rolls are ready. If you walk along any Kolkata road during the evenings you will find scores of people eating these. One roll suffices for a snack, maybe a couple for dinner.
*Photo credit: Suchismita Majumdar.
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