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Making roti prata

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Roti prata is a very popular food in Singapore and Malaysia, mostly sold at hawker stalls by Indian Muslims. It is a fried pancake/bread and can be eaten plain or with different fillings such as egg, mushroom, cheese or even banana and chocolate. It is served with a curry and since it is very oily, I find that it also serves as a great hangover food.

Prata is linked to Singapore’s history as a former nation of immigrants, as it originally comes from South India and Sri Lanka where it is called “parotta”, or “paratha” in Northern India. It was introduced to Singapore by Indian immigrants, who moved there with the founding of modern Singapore by the British in 1819. Nowadays, Indian Singaporeans are the third largest ethnic group in Singapore and make up 9% of the country’s residents. One of the main ethnic groups among Singapore Indians are Tamils, which is why Tamil is also an official language of Singapore.

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The ingredients: flour, salt, water, sugar, an egg, oil (or ghee) and mushrooms as filling.

The ingredients for roti prata are quite basic, although it is important that the flour has an appropriate protein content. This has to do with the special technique that is necessary to make prata: the flipping/stretching. In Singapore, I was often fascinated by how the prata makers expertly stretch the dough into a very thin layer by flipping, before folding it. This flattening and folding gives the prata its crispy yet soft texture.

On a dinner night for exchange students, I got to try this out under the supervision of a prata maker. Unfortunately, I quickly noticed that flipping the dough without tearing it is just as hard as it looks, and I failed miserably. However, now that I have returned home and finally have a kitchen again, I decided I couldn’t give up that easily and wanted to give it another try.

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My first ever attempt at making prata – a fail.

This time, I was much more successful. After making the dough and letting it rest overnight, the flipping was much easier. Even though it teared a few times, I eventually managed to make a nice thin layer and fold it properly, using mushrooms and cheese as filling. Texture-wise I was quite impressed with the result after frying, but unfortunately the taste didn’t quite live up to the prata I had in Singapore. There is definitely room for improvement here.

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The dough balls ready to flatten, my attempts at flipping the dough and the end result.

Usually when ordering cheese prata in Singapore, it is filled with processed cheese. As a twist from my own cuisine, I decided to use a typically Luxembourgish runny cheese instead. That’s one thing that I like better about my prata in comparison to the original!

Nora, Singapore

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