Opinions are divided about the birth place of Porotta (Poratta, Roti Canai). It is either Sri Lanka or the nearby Kerala-
Tamil Nadu region. Anyway, it is this part of the world.
Today, you find it in many countries in many names. And in
many variations too. From street stalls to star restaurants, its flaky soft
crispiness wins over rich and poor alike.
Roti Canai is a
widely popular food of South East Asia. It is layered flatbread made from Maida
(similar to plain flour/ all-purpose flour).
In Malaysia, Roti Canai is really a big deal. A large percent of Malaysian Restaurants is owned and run by Kerala and Tamil Muslims. It has been the case for the last two generations. These people are fondly called Mamaks (uncle / elder brother) and their restaurants Mamak shops.
When you visit a Mamak restaurant in Malaysia, you will be surprised by the flow of people to eat Parottas. You will also be surprised by the varieties on offer. Stuffed with egg, potatoes, meat, fish and even bananas. For now, I will just talk about the standard flaky Porotta.
It is an important food item in adjacent Singapore where they call it Roi Pratha. You will find it all over Sri Lanka, Brunei and Southern India. You can enjoy it in Indian Restaurants in Dubai and other Middle East Gulf countries.
Roti Canai is available in major western cities where its
popularity has increased over the years. A good Malaysian Restaurant is the
place to go, if you want it up to the mark.
That brings attention to quality and craftmanship of making them. Not all Parottas are alike. The good ones are layered, soft on inside, crispy on outside. The bad ones are dry, chewy and with no layers or the layers stuck together.
Making it is an art. To make good Porotta, you need some kind of training. The person expert in making them is called Porotta mash (master) in Kerala.
If you are going to make Kerala Porotta at home, get a few things in head. You are not going to make great Porottas, the very first time. The trick to making finest Porottas is simple- practice, practice, practice.
You may ask - why do I need so much practice? The practice
is mainly for the stretching part where you take the flattened balls and spread
it moving it in the air. You can make Porotta without doing so, but the product
will be just average of below average.
Can I fake it till I make it? You will have to make it till you flake it.
How to eat them? Simple. Just eat it with any curry or roast. They go well with Daal, Chana curry or non veg curries or meat fries or roasts.
Porotta is ok as an occasional food. Cannot recommend it for regular diet.
Frozen Porottas are available. It is just a shadow of real