KARACHI: Imagine the warm and crispy paratha, the tender meat that melts in your mouth, the chutney oozing out as you tear off the paper wrapping and take a bite of your scrumptious roll… Mouthwatering, isn’t it?
Tasty and convenient, paratha rolls have quickly gained popularity all over the country. However, no other city can match Karachi’s delectable rolls.
Over the last few years, numerous food outlets have opened up in the city offering this delight – but all of them can’t get it right. The right mix of meat, vegetables, chutney, and the crispness of the paratha is essential for a treat that will make your taste buds dance with joy.
Craving for one? Here, we have the top five paratha roll places in Karachi:
5. Milano – Pizza and Fast Food
Milano initially started off as a fast food outlet focusing on pizzas and burgers. Their rolls started gaining popularity as a side order and they expanded to meet customers’ demands. Now, they are one of the best roll places in the area.
Their specialty is the chicken they use in their rolls – it’s really crispy. They do not offer any special ‘crispy chicken roll’ because all their rolls have crispy chicken stuffing. Their chutney isn’t famous, but the perfectly crisp chicken makes up for it.
We asked a customer, Umer Siddiqui, why he chose to eat at Milano: “The taste is different. It is crispy, just like a zinger burger. And honestly, it’s close to my house.”
After trying their rolls, we came to the conclusion that even though the chutney wasn’t so satisfying, the crispy chicken was a fresh variant to the generic rolls that we eat so often.
Price Range: Rs100 to Rs130
Best on their menu: Chicken Chutney roll, Chicken Bihari Garlic Mayo roll
4. Sirf Meerath
Though relatively new to the roll scene, Sirf Meerath has quickly become a favourite for many. Their rolls rose to fame because they are bigger in size and are more filling compared to other outlets.
For this reason, their prices are also higher. “Our rolls are famous for their size. Each roll is as big as an iPhone 6, maybe even 6 Plus. Our purpose is to fill the customers’ stomachs with satisfaction. The prices are high because at Sirf Meerath, even if you order one roll, you will be full. Guaranteed!” the owner Muhammad Kashif Khan tells us.
Their chutney is different because it’s spicy yet sweet. It completes the roll’s overall taste, perfectly. Khan refused to tell us their secret recipe when asked, saying, “Who tells their secret these days?”
One of the customers present there, Ahsan, says, “They are the biggest rolls in Karachi. The taste is unique and the quality is good. I don’t mind paying more for good quality.”
Price Range: Rs110 to Rs150
Best on their menu: Chicken Chutney roll and Reshmi Kebab roll
3. Red Apple
Red Apple made its mark in the rolls market many years ago, and is still going strong. The variety of rolls available at Red Apple, including pizza rolls, exceeds its competitors’.
As compared to generic rolls, the ‘special’ rolls retail for around Rs200, which we thought is a bit unreasonable.
Manager Muhammad Altaf addresses our concern by saying, “We don’t care about prices being high. Our quality is good, and only some of the special ones are for Rs200 – they sell a lot but mostly people prefer normal rolls. The prices change only once a year.”
He proudly adds, “We don’t mind people complaining, as only then we can improve. Safai pe no compromise. Come and check our open kitchen. Cleanliness is the number one priority. ‘Big’ people come and eat here too but I won’t take names.”
The taste of their food stays constant, it neither improves nor worsens, he adds.
“One reliable source delivers all the items required to make the delicious rolls to all our branches. As far as the secret recipe goes, next question please…,” he says when asked about the secret recipe.
Talking about the Red Apple chutney, which has two variants – podina raita and spicy imli – he cheekily says, “Our chutney is one of the best in Karachi. People usually buy chutneys separately as well. It’s unique because we have the same staff since 15 years. We don’t fire anyone.”
A customer, Hamza, gave us his review when asked why he chooses Red Apple over others: “The taste is better, the chutney is unique and by now, it has become a habit to eat from here.”
Price Range: Rs100 to Rs200
Best on their menu: Chicken Chutney roll and Malai Chicken roll
2. Mirchi 360°
A relatively new franchise, Mirchi 360° quickly gained popularity because of its quality, reasonable prices and warm service, making it one of the most visited roll corners in Defence Khadda Market.
“Mirchi was opened up to compete against Hot n Spicy initially. All the workers from there came to Mirchi then,” Ashfaq, a waiter who has been working here since nine years, tells us.
The joint’s manager, Safeer Ahmed, says Mirchi has a pretty smooth system because it has a different supervisor for each department, which makes things more efficient.
They were also ready to give us a tour of their kitchen as they take pride in their hygiene policies.
“Everyone gets complaints and negative remarks. We did too. It was related to the chicken we were using but the issue was taken care of,” reveals Ahmed.
But what’s with the name Mirchi 360°?
“360 was the owner’s car number plate. Guess he liked it a little too much!” the manager says with a laugh.
About the secret recipe, he says, “Everything is almost the same as what every roll place offers. We just make it with a lot of love, that’s what makes us different.”
Nadeem, a customer placing an order for 60 rolls (and does this at least thrice a week) says he chooses Mirchi 360° because “the sauce and the taste is outstanding. I cannot afford bad service as my order is big. It’s for our office – we like treating our employees at work on and off.”
Price Range: Rs95 to Rs115
Best on their menu: Mirchi 360° Special and BBQ Sauce roll
1. Hot n Spicy
The pioneer of paratha rolls, Hot n Spicy continues to be number one on the list because of the legacy it has established. People love it because the food is hygienic and fresh, and because of their trademark chutney that makes their rolls irresistible.
Khalid Shah, manager of the joint’s Khadda Market branch, tells us that serving fresh food to customers is their number one priority.
Interestingly, he claims, Hot n Spicy is the only restaurant that gives customers an option of having ‘crispy chicken’ in their rolls – and it’s gaining popularity. “More than a thousand people come here every day, and this is just one branch,” he adds.
Much to their customers’ relief, Hot n Spicy has maintained its affordability in an unstable economy, and the manager says there are no plans of increasing prices in the future either.
“We just want everyone to come and eat. If I tell you our recipe or how it came about, nobody will come to us. Itnay saalon ki mehnat pe paani thori pherna hai kya,” says Shah with a smile on his face when asked about their secret recipe.
“Because of the taste – it’s aik dum original.” – Mujtaba
“I’m coming here for the hundredth time, and it’s only for the chutney. I recommend people to come here and bring their families too.” – Bilal
Price Range: Rs100 to Rs150
Best on their menu: Chicken Crispy roll and Malai Garlic roll