Mama’s Bread Rolls

February 19, 2021
1 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Sophie Pappas. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • makes 6
Author Notes

As a child, teatime was an event at our home—comprising not just steaming cups of chai, but piles of snacks. Sometimes, those snacks would be sourced: samosas dripping with mint and tamarind chutney from a Bengali sweetshop, potato buns from the neighborhood Iyengar Bakery, masala vadas from a man in the market whose entire setup consisted only of a giant vat of boiling-hot oil atop a tiny handcart. Other times, especially on rainy days, the snacks would be homemade by my mom: onion pakoras, piping-hot pazham pori (banana fritters), and my absolute favorite snack of all, these bread rolls: fried to a crisp on the outside, warm and starchy on the inside.

Now in Berlin, over 4000 miles away from my mother who lives in Bangalore, it's the simple teatime treats and midnight snacks I long for the most... the sort of thing that really hits the spot when one wants to be reminded of home.

A few notes as you make these:
1. The bread you use matters quite a bit. I use a soft multigrain sandwich bread that is mostly whole wheat. Although white sandwich bread probably works best: it’s what my mom used. You really want the bread rolls to have that taste of fried bread around the filling, and a deep colour.
2. Don’t forget to cut the crusts off the bread, because it won’t seal as well if you leave them on.
3. Don’t overstuff the rolls: if you do, they’re liable to come apart when you fry them. I tend to place the stuffing diagonally across the slice of bread, because it makes it easier to cover and shape.
4. There are variations to this recipe. Some people add a little garam masala and turmeric powder to their potato filling along with a seasoning of fried mustard and curry leaves. Others add chopped ginger, garlic and chiles to theirs. I prefer it without, because my mom makes it this way.
Vaishali Dinakaran

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Dreaming of Mom's Golden-Crisp Bread Rolls...4,000 Miles From Home. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 6 small-medium potatoes
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 6 slices of multigrain sandwich bread, crusts off
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon mild red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 1-2 small green chile (Indian or Thai), chopped fine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • Sunflower oil for deep frying
  • water in a medium-sized bowl
  1. Boil the potatoes until tender, so they can be pierced quite easily with a fork. Peel them and mash roughly with a fork. Note: They don’t need to be creamy smooth.
  2. Add the onions, cumin powder, mild chilli powder, garam masala (optional), green chile (optional), chopped cilantro, and salt to the potatoes, and mix together well.
  3. Shape the mixture into six even-sized oblongs.
  4. Moisten a slice of bread by dipping it into a bowl with water and immediately whipping it out. Press flat between your palms to squeeze excess water out. Place the potato mixture in the center of the moistened slice, and fold the bread over the filling, and shape into an oblong.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the bread and potato mixture.
  6. Heat enough sunflower or any other vegetable oil in a large wok. The quantity of oil you will need for deep frying depends on the size of your wok. Once the oil is hot, drop one of the rolls in (it needs space to move around), fry for around 3-4 minutes, until it gets to a nice rich golden-brown colour. Repeat with the rest of the rolls.
  7. Serve with ketchup, cilantro chutney, or for absolute authenticity, Maggi Hot & Sweet Tomato Chilli Sauce.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Vaishali Dinakaran
    Vaishali Dinakaran
  • patricia gadsby
    patricia gadsby

2 Reviews

patricia G. February 28, 2021
May we see.a video showing us how Mama's bread rolls are prepared? How to moisten the bread just so, and how to neatly fold the bread around the filling and keep it in place?
Lovely story, Vaishali.
Vaishali D. February 28, 2021
How lovely to know that someone wants to see a video of the bread rolls being prepared. I shall see what we can do about that, and if something does come of it, I'll make sure to come back here and let you know! :-)