MacDougal kati shop is on a roll, keeps growing

A pair of kati rolls make a tasty nosh. Photo by Gabe Herman

BY GABE HERMAN | The Kati Roll Company has been a MacDougal St. mainstay since 2002, yet the shop remains easy to miss, tucked away midway between Bleecker and W. Third Sts., up several steps from street level, above the Greenwich Village Comedy Club.

But that hasn’t slowed this spot’s gaining popularity. The shop, serving tasty Indian street food in flatbread wraps that are popular in Kolkata, continues to expand. An East Village branch opened at 128 Second Ave. at St. Mark’s Place in 2016, and the most recent addition is in the Financial District at 22 Maiden Lane, near Zuccotti Park, which opened this August. 

There are currently six Kati Roll shops in Manhattan and one in London. The Financial District was actually the planned area for its first shop. But after 9/11 the plans changed and the Village became the first location in 2002, where Kati began serving wraps made on the spot in a fast-casual format.

The word “kati” translates to “skewer,” according to the company’s Web site, and skewer-grilled items in the wraps can include chicken, beef, lamb or shrimp, along with spices and vegetables in a paratha or roti flatbread. All of the meats are halal and the chicken contains no hormones or antibiotics.

Menu items include a chicken tikka roll, shrimp masala roll, and unda beef roll, which includes a layer of beaten eggs. Vegetarian options include a chana masala roll and a mixed veggie roll. There are also many lassi (yogurt drink) flavors available to wash it all down. 

The kati rolls are always freshly made on the spot after ordering — though be warned that if you arrive and see a line, it can be slow moving and space is tight in the small shop.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge because Indian food is defined for most people as curry and rice,” co-owner Anil Bathwal told the trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News, speaking of the different fare that Kati Roll offers. “But we believe the kati roll is a perfect way to introduce Indian food. It’s like a sandwich.”

Apparently that philosophy is paying off, because the company plans to keep expanding in the next couple of years, in the city and beyond, with as many as 40 new locations.

Hopefully, the wide expansion won’t alter the winning formula of good ingredients, freshly made, in small shops that don’t feel like your typical fast-food franchise chain.

The Kati Roll Company, 99 MacDougal St., between Bleecker St. and Minetta Lane. For more information, visit thekatirollcompany.com or call 212-420-6517.

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