Frankies are a popular street food in India, known for their irresistible combination of flavors and textures. In this classic potato version, flaky paratha envelops a hearty filling of perfectly spiced potatoes and peas, zingy, crunchy red onions tossed with lemon juice and chaat masala, and spicy and tart cilantro-mint chutney.
The Frankie Roll is a perfect symphony of flavors in a wrap that’s great for eating on the go or for a proper sit-down meal.
What’s the story behind Frankies?
Everyone seems to agree that Frankies originated in the streets of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, by a man named Amarjit Tibb in the 1960s. From there, however, the stories diverge. Tibb may have been inspired by Lebanese flatbread wraps, or maybe it was British hot dogs or German frankfurters. Maybe the frankfurter connection is how they got their name. Or maybe they were named after the famed Indian cricketer Frank Worrell. Some even say they were named after Frank Sinatra.
Regardless, they served a need—providing a great grab-and-go lunch or snack for hungry commuters. Originally filled with spicy mutton, the wrap has been adapted into various vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions, like a Chicken Frankie Roll, but the name has stuck. “Frankie” was catchy, easy to remember, and added an element of Western appeal, which likely contributed to the snack’s immense popularity.
This veg frankie roll is savory, spicy, and satisfying. Flaky paratha is filled with a mouthwatering mixture of seasoned potatoes, and an assortment of savory toppings and chutneys. It’s street food at its best—an explosion of flavors in each bite and a perfect snack any time of the day.
Ingredients you need for this veg frankie recipe
One of the great things about Frankies is how versatile they are. Feel free to make substitutions as needed.
- Potatoes: The unassuming potato is the backbone of this dish. I like to use Yukon golds because they mash easily, have great flavor, and thanks to their thin skins, you don’t need to bother with peeling them.
- Oil: Any neutral oil, such as canola oil, safflower oil, or sunflower oil will do the trick.
- Ground turmeric: Known as the golden spice of India, turmeric lends a beautiful yellow hue and a subtle earthy flavor.
- Kashmiri chilli powder: This gives our Frankie a hint of heat without being overly spicy. If unavailable, substitute half the quantity of cayenne plus half the quantity of paprika.
- Salt: Use sea salt or kosher salt.
- Ground cumin or cumin powder: This spice adds a warm, nutty flavor. If you don’t have it, you could substitute ground coriander. The flavor will be different, but that’s okay.
- Frozen peas: Peas add a pop of color and texture. You could certainly use fresh peas if you happen to have them on hand, but frozen peas work really well here. I always keep a bag of peas in my freezer for recipes like this one.
- Egg: This holds the potato mixture together. If you’re vegan, you can leave it out or use a vegan egg substitute.
- Cilantro: Fresh cilantro adds a zingy, refreshing touch. If you’re not a fan, you can use mint or parsley instead.
- Red onion: This add a crunchy, slightly sweet contrast to the other flavors. They’re seasoned with salt and spices, which helps to mellow the raw onion bite.
- Chaat masala: This slightly tart spice blend includes cumin, coriander, ginger, salt, pepper, asafoetida, chili powder, and dried mango (amchur). If you can’t find it, substitute a bit of chili powder, a squeeze of lime juice, and a sprinkle of black salt if you have it.
- Lemon juice: This adds some tanginess. If unavailable, vinegar can be a good substitute.
- Paratha: A flaky, buttery Indian flatbread. I used masala paratha, which is laced with masala seasonings, but you can use plain paratha. If you can’t find it, substitute another flatbread like roti, chapati, or even tortillas. You can even make your own roti with whole wheat flour if you like. Technically, if you make this recipe with whole wheat roti, it is a veg kathi roll rather than a true frankie roll
- Cilantro-Mint Chutney: A vibrant, tangy, and spicy condiment. If you can’t find it, consider just adding lots of fresh cilantro, mint leaves, and sliced or chopped green chili peppers.
- Yogurt: Use a whole milk yogurt for the best texture. If you’re vegan, you can substitute a plant-based version.
- Fresh mint leaves: These bring a fresh bite to the dish. Substitute other tender herbs like cilantro, basil, or chives.
How to make this veg frankie roll recipe
Frankies are easy to make but require several steps. I use store-bought paratha, which saves a lot of time, but you could make your own.
- Cook the potatoes until they are tender, then drain and mash them.
- In a skillet, heat the oil and then add the turmeric, chili powder, cumin, and salt and then the peas. Cook to heat the peas through.
- Combine the potatoes, peas, egg, and cilantro and mix well.
- To make the onion topping, toss the onions with the chili powder, chaat masala, lemon juice, and salt and let stand while you prepare the rest.
- Form the mixture into logs about an inch in diameter and about 4 inches long.
- Heat oil in a skillet and cook the potato logs until they are browned on all sides. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Once all the potato logs are fried, wipe out the skillet. Add a paratha and cook for a couple of minutes, until it starts to brown on the bottom. Flip over cook for a couple more minutes until the other side starts to brown. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining parathas.
- To assemble the frankie rolls, spread some of the cilantro chutney-yogurt mixture over a paratha. Add a potato log, then top with some of the onions and fresh mint leaves. Roll up and secure with toothpicks if needed. Repeat with the remaining parathas and fillings.
- Serve immediately.
How to serve frankiesJust like the Chicken Kathi Roll, veg Frankies are perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch, a snack on the go, or a delicious dinner, they’ve got you covered.
They’re also a party favorite — just imagine a DIY Frankie bar where everyone can customize their own! And let’s not forget about late-night cravings; there’s nothing quite like a spicy, hearty Frankie to satiate your hunger after a night out.You can pair it with a Kachumber Salad and a chilled lassi (a traditional Indian yogurt-based drink) for refreshing counterpoints to the spiciness. Add a bowl of Mulligatawny Soup or Spiced Lentil Dal to make it a filling meal. You can also experiment with additional fillings like pan-fried Paneer, Pickled Onions, or tangy Tamarind Chutney, Cucumber Raita, Garlic Chutney or Achar. If you’re a spice lover, add some extra chopped green chilies or Pickled Jalapenos, a drizzle of chili paste, or a dash of extra hot sauce for an added kick. In a nutshell, the Veg Frankie is more than just a wrap. It’s a culinary journey that transports you to the bustling streets of Mumbai, offering a mouthful of flavors and textures with each bite. From the earthy potatoes to the vibrant chutneys and the flaky paratha, every ingredient tells a story. Whether you’re new to Indian cuisine or a long-time lover, this delightful street food is sure to win your heart.