Popular Indian street food, Paneer Kathi Rolls are warm, layered parathas filled with spicy paneer, mixed peppers, and sweet caramelized onions. Whether you make it for a quick weeknight meal or a leisurely gathering, these Kathi rolls are sure to be a hit!
Traditionally made with skewered kebob filling, I love this quick and easy vegetarian version served with the crispy Kawan parathas that take it up a notch for a surefire winner amongst kids and adults alike. Paneer is a staple ingredient in my kitchen for quick and easy meals such as Paneer Jalfrezi, Palak Paneer, and Paneer Makhani which are all ready in under 30 minutes and make for a good source of protein.
What is a Kathi Roll
Epitomizing authentic Mughlai flavors; the Kathi Roll is one of India’s most popular grab-and-go street foods. The word Kathi or Kati means stick. Traditionally, the kebob meats were cooked on metal or wooden skewers and hence the word Kathi. These incredibly flavorful, succulent pieces of grilled meat (kebabs) or vegetables are rolled into a soft flaky flatbread topped with spicy-tangy green chutney, sliced red onion slivers, and a dash of lime to make mouthwatering Kathi rolls.
I’ve had some of the best Kathi rolls on the streets of Mumbai, often way past midnight including Chicken Kathi Rolls and Kolkatta Egg Rolls. A popular post-party food, these rolls never failed to delight even at that hour. The delectable aroma wafting through the bylanes lingers in my mind even to this day.
30 Minute Vegetarian Meal
Although Kathi rolls are usually made with a meat filling, I love this quick vegetarian version using zesty paneer cubes (cottage cheese) as the main ingredient. Bursting with an interesting mix of spices and flavors, this super easy-to-make dish is ready in under 30 minutes. And if you love Indian street food, you have to try my Mumbai Pav Bhaji recipe as well as the Gobi Manchurian recipe. They are family favorites and a great way to enjoy lots of veggies.
Best Parathas for Kathi Rolls
I often turn to my freezer for Plain Kawan Parathas when I am making Kathi rolls. Kawan Parathas are pre-rolled to perfect thickness with layers of buttery dough. When cooked for just 2 to 3 minutes on a heated griddle, they turn into these flaky, crisp parathas filling your kitchen with wonderful aromas. And the best part... you do not need any additional oil or butter while cooking them.
These delicious golden brown parathas can be rolled up with a layer of chutney, paneer and vegetable filling, and pickled onions.
Place the roll on parchment paper and they become a perfect on-the-go meal. For parties, I place the rolls on a baking tray and then reheat them in the oven just before serving. To serve as appetizers, cut them in half and they are sure to be a hit.
- Paneer - This Indian Cottage cheese can be made at home using just 2 ingredients - milk and lemon juice. Here is my homemade paneer recipe. Although, oftentimes I find myself using store-bought paneer (Gopi or Haldiram brand) for convenience. It is sold in Indian grocery stores, Wholefoods, and Costco.
- Mixed Bell Peppers - I like red and green as they offer a nice contrasting color with sweetness from red and a mildly bitter flavor from green. You can use any peppers you have on hand
- Red Onions - In addition to the sweetness of sauteed red onions, I love the beautiful red hue it adds to the filling. I also love adding thinly sliced raw red onions while serving for some crunch
- Spices - Kashmiri red chili powder, ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, Kasoori methi, and salt
- Green Chutney - Homemade or store-bought green chutney
How to Make Paneer Kathi Rolls
- Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add paneer and mix well (photos 1 - 2).
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add onions, peppers, and ½ teaspoon of salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add marinated paneer and mix well. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the heat off and garnish with cilantro (photos 3 - 6).
- Blend all the chutney ingredients using 2 tablespoons of water to make a smooth sauce. Note: Add more water as needed, a little at a time (photos 7 - 8).
- Heat a non-stick griddle pan. Remove the Kawan paratha from the plastic wrapping and place it on the griddle. Cook on medium-high heat for about 1 to 1-½ minutes on each side or until both sides are golden brown, pressing gently with a spatula (photos 9 - 10).
How to Serve Kathi Rolls
Spread 2 teaspoons of chutney on the cooked paratha. Add 2 to 3 spoonfuls of the filling in the middle. Add a few sliced onions and cilantro on top. Love spicy? Add a few slices of pickled jalapenos. Roll the sides up to the middle. You can use small toothpicks to hold them together (photos 11 - 14).
Leftover Kathi Roll filling can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days making it a great make-ahead recipe. I often make the filling as meal prep for weeknight meals and it also makes for a perfect vegetarian dish to take for Indian potluck parties.
The chutney can also be made ahead. I recommend freezing any leftovers in small silicone ice cube trays. They can be quickly thawed as needed.
Drinks to Serve with Spicy Kathi Rolls
- Mango Lassi - Cooling yogurt drink with mango is a perfect pairing with spicy foods
- Ginger Lemonade - favorite homemade lemonade
- Watermelon Juice - a quick 5-minute recipe for a refreshing drink
- Rose Falooda - This drink and dessert recipe makes a delicious pairing with Kathi roll for a Friday night get-together or a game night
- Masala Doodh - Steamed sweetened milk with nuts, cardamom, nutmeg, and saffron
More Indian Curries
Here are some Indian curries that pair well with Kawan Parathas:
- Easy Palak Paneer – The restaurant-favorite palak paneer ready in 15 minutes
- Dum Aloo – Quick and easy Instant Pot curried baby potatoes
- Batatyachi Bhaji – Maharashtrian spicy potatoes with ginger and green chilies
- Aloo Gobi Masala – Another restaurant fav recipe with curried cauliflower
- Daal Makhani – Authentic Creamy lentils
- Love curry? Check out my best Indian Curries
Paneer Kathi Rolls
- 2 cups paneer cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 small red pepper thinly sliced
- 1 small green pepper thinly sliced
- 1 medium red onion thinly sliced
- 6 to 8 kawan parathas ** cook per package instructions
- 1 medium yellow onion thinly sliced
- ½ cup cilantro chopped
- Marinate the paneer- Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add paneer and mix well.
- Make the filling- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add onions, peppers and ½ teaspoon of salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add marinated paneer and mix well. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the heat off. Add cilantro.
- Chutney - Blend all the chutney ingredients using 2 tablespoons of water to make a smooth sauce. Note: Add more water as needed, little at a time.
- Cook the Parathas- Heat a non-stick griddle pan. Remove the kawan paratha from the plastic wrapping and place it on the griddle. Cook on medium-high heat for about to 1 to 1½ minutes on each side or until both sides are golden brown, pressing gently with a spatula. Enjoy hot!
- Assemble Kathi Roll- Spread 2 teaspoons of chutney on cooked paratha. Add 2 to 3 spoonfuls of the filling in the middle. Add few sliced onions and cilantro on top. roll the sides up to the middle. You can use small toothpicks to hold them together.