It’s amazing how the simplest of ingredients — water, oil, flour, egg — can produce one of the tastiest breakfast (or supper) staples in Singapore. South Indian migrants brought the recipe for roti prata to Singapore from Chennai (that’s why it’s also known as Roti Canai in Malaysia), and we’ve been enjoying these crispy, yet fluffy discs of griddled dough ever since. And while the ingredients are simple, the secret lies in the cook’s skill in kneading, folding and flipping the dough till you get layer upon layer of prata perfection. Blissful with curry. Here are two options if you’re looking for prata that’s extra crispy, or spicy.
1. Try This: Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata, from $1 a plain extra crispy prata, with curry
East siders may be familiar with this Joo Chiat favourite, and it’s no surprise that chef Rishi Naleendra has chosen this mom-and-pop shop as one of his go-to places for local Indian food. In his native Sri Lanka, they have something similar but more doughy and chewy, so Singapore-style Roti Prata was a revelation to him. This is prata that absolutely lives up to its name — it really is super crispy! Probably because Mr Mohgan has about an inch of ghee in his large cast-iron griddle-pan, in which his expertly massaged and flipped discs of dough go for a sizzling dip.
Cracklingly crisp and flaky on the outside, yet tender and fluffy on the inside. Chef Rishi says this prata is a winner as its flavour and texture are on point. Apparently, Mr Mohgan adds a little milk to his dough mixture for extra richness. Your prata comes in a tin tray with tasty fish curry, lentil curry and a thick ikan billis chilli, all of which work beautifully with the crunchy pancake. Addictive. Mr and Mrs Mohgan see a steady stream of customers every day. So be prepared for a bit of a wait, even though the setup is efficient. To keep track of orders, they are handwritten on Mrs Mohgan’s clipboard. You’re then given a number, which she will call out when your food is ready. Mrs Mohgan is a friendly lady who’s so used to food tourists, she helpfully moves aside and waits for you to take photos, calling each customer “sister” or “brother” with a gentle smile.
Poh Ho Restaurant, 7 Crane Road, S429356. Tel: 9794-3124. Open daily 6.30am – 1.30pm, except Tue & Wed on the 3rd week of each month.
2. Or That: Prata Saga Sambal Berlada, from $1.80 for two plain pratas with curry or sambal.
Whenever my makan kaki chef Anthony Yeoh needs a prata fix, he heads for this stall in Tekka Market, which serves delicious fried pastries the traditional way. Soft and light, with a touch of crunchiness on the surface, this prata stands apart from others because of its accompanying sambal! Thirty years ago, chef-owner Mr Zulkifli concocted a sambal to serve as an unusual alternative dipping sauce to curry. You may find other stalls doing the same now, but he claims to be the first one to do so. He shares that his sambal contains lots of fresh red chillies as well as belacan for extra oomph.
The result is a delightful sauce with the consistency of curry. It starts off mellow and sweet, but segues into a fiery tickle on your tongue and the back of your throat. It’s good enough to eat on its own with the prata, which Mr Zul smashes with his hands to fluff up after frying. He says this smashing action prevents the prata from going hard and preserves its tenderness.
But if you simply cannot do without curry, choose from mutton or fish, both of which are thick and not overpoweringly gamey or fishy. However, try the curries with some sambal stirred into them. The sambal completely changes the taste of the curry and gives it a unique lift.
Stall #01-258, Tekka Market and Food Centre, 665 Buffalo Rd, S210665. Open daily, 7am – 4pm.