Because lunch deserves some love, too.

By Adina Steiman
Updated August 10, 2020
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Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

If you're cooking three meals a day, chances are lunch gets the least attention. I can muster the gumption to whip up pancakes for breakfast (especially now that I'm not commuting to work) and putting lots of TLC into dinner helps make the evening feel distinct from the workday. But lunch? It's reheated leftovers or half-hearted sandwiches, even though midday is when I need a boost the most.

Enter these kathi rolls from Maneet Chauhan, chef of Chauhan Ale & Masala House. They're packed with spiced paneer (firm tofu also works), roasted vegetables, and a crispy cabbage slaw, delivering plenty of vibrant flavor in every bite. They're surprisingly doable for lunchtime—here's how to pull it off.

Make the Masala Marinade

You'll be using two pre-made spice mixtures (aka masalas) to flavor the paneer and the vegetables: Garam masala and masala chat. If you don't already stock masala chat in your kitchen, it's well worth ordering online. It's one of those blends you'll find yourself using pretty much everywhere. The tangy flavor of masala chat—courtesy of ingredients like sour mango powder, ground pomegranate, and tamarind—works amazingly well on fried potatoes, cut-up raw fruit and crunchy vegetables like cucumbers. Here, it's combined with yogurt, garam masala, lemon juice, turmeric, and finely chopped garlic and ginger to make a fast and zesty marinade for paneer, peppers, and onions. Marinate everything in the morning, and it'll be ready to broil at lunchtime.

Broil Paneer and Vegetables

About 45 minutes before you're ready to have lunch, preheat the oven to 500°F. You'll blast the marinated peppers and onions at high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring halfway through, until just charred in spots, and then toss in the marinated paneer, and broil for a few more minutes. After everything is sizzling and browned, transfer the mixture to a bowl and toss in some salt (you add it after cooking because salt can interfere with browning if used too early). Then reduce the oven temperature to 200°F to keep the parathas warm.

Speaking of Parathas...

These flaky whole-wheat flatbreads are traditional for kathi rolls, but if you can't find them easily, large whole-wheat tortillas or even larger-sized pitas would work. Heat them up gently in a dry skillet and then keep them warm in the oven while you make the crunchy cabbage salad.

Toss Together a Cabbage Salad

After thinly slicing a cup of red onion, you'll rinse it under cold water to take away a bit of its bite. Then make a quick slaw with thinly sliced cabbage, lime juice (or another squeeze from the lemon you used earlier), plus a touch of jaggery or brown sugar for balance, and salt and pepper of course.

Put Those Kathi Rolls Together

Kathi rolls are all about portability, and since they're so overstuffed, wrapping them in foil helps everything stay together in a nice munchable cylinder. Lay a sheet of foil on your work surface and lay the paratha on top so half of it is on the foil. Arrange your spiced and tangy paneer, peppers, and onions, a tangle of cool cabbage salad, and a drizzle of spicy mango-mint chutney on top (or, for more weekday friendliness, use a store-bought green chutney or mango chutney). Top the filling with a bonus sprinkle of chat masala for good measure, then roll up and repeat to make the remaining kathi rolls. Sure, making a pile of kathi rolls is a bit more trouble than your average tuna salad wrap. But it's worth it when you sit yourself down to a lunch that feels like a vacation.

Get the Recipe: Masala Paneer Kathi Rolls