Singapore Food Series: Roti Prata
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Roti prata is a carbtastic Indian flatbread. Called roti canai in Malaysia, it is similar to the North Indian paratha – but made Singapore style. Don’t settle for anything less than pratas made a la minute and served piping hot to get the best prata experience.
The prata man is one of the iconic figures of Singapore food, and watching a skilled prata man flip and stretch the dough is absolutely fascinating, for both the young and old. There’s something magical about seeing the palm size piece of dough stretch to more than 5 times its size! Try doing it at home, however, and you’ll soon find out it’s terribly tricky to do well, without tearing the paper-thin dough.
Prata consists of just a few ingredients: flour, water, sugar, salt, oil (usually ghee, or clarified butter) and an egg. It’s extremely time consuming to make, however, as the dough requires multiple stages of resting. The end results are well worth it though – the process of making prata requires laminating the dough, which leads to the outsides edges being crispy and flakey while the stretchiness and pliability of the dough still remains inside. Doing this right requires quite a bit of skill and effort, so rather than making prata at home, most Singaporeans choose to just eat out.
And why not? Prata is cheap, with single pieces costing from as low as a dollar and some change. The small individual servings makes prata versatile enough to be ideal for breakfast, afternoon snack, and supper, but the versatility of ordering a stack of them makes them perfectly serviceable as full meals too.
Dishing It Up
Prata has traditionally been available kosong – Malay for zero, meaning no toppings or fillings, to better enjoy the mild sweetness of the bread – or with an egg. The raw egg is cracked onto the flat, stretched out dough and spread all over before the dough is folded over to encase the egg. This ensures a good spread of egg throughout the prata. It is then cooked over a flat griddle for a few minutes until they’re ready to serve.
Prata is served with a small dish of curry. You can ask specifically for chicken, mutton, fish or vegetable curry when ordering, and they’ll usually try to accommodate you if they’ve cooked that specific curry that day. Otherwise, you can just let them serve you the curry du jour. The curries usually aren’t that spicy, but if you can’t take the heat, eating kosong prata with white sugar is another common way of having it.
New Flavours & Types
Apart from the classic kosong and egg though, there are plenty of other toppings and fillings available nowadays. From onions, sausage, cheese and mushrooms to dessert pratas with ice cream, bananas, and chocolate or strawberry sauce, the list of fillings available keeps getting longer. One particular favourite that requires a bit of explanation, however, is the prata bomb. It’s got nothing to do with actual explosives, and everything to do with the explosion of sweetness hidden inside it (and its effect on your heart): butter or margarine, sugar and lashings of sweetened condensed milk. It’s definitely not for the calorie-conscious.
Apart from the standard prata, there is also coin prata and tissue prata. Made from the same dough, coin prata is smaller, and more of it is crispy. Tissue prata, as the name implies, is tissue-thin and usually served in a standing conical shape. It is entirely crispy, and can be paired with savoury curries or drizzled with chocolate sauce.
Want to find the best prata in Singapore? Check out our recommendations:
Casuarina Curry Restaurant
136 Casuarina Road (Off Upper Thomson)
187 Macpherson Road (beside UOB Bank)
One of the stalwarts of the prata scene, Casuarina Curry doesn’t just dish up crispy prata with an extensive list of toppings and fillings. They also have a menu including murtabak, thosai, briyani and various fried noodles and rice.
With branches conveniently situated in various malls, Prata Wala has decent prata although slightly pricier. But if you want air-conditioned comfort, this is the place to go.
The Prata Place
1 Thong Soon Avenue, Singapore 787431
Blk 340, #01-1679 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, Singapore 560340
When the craving for good prata hits, it isn’t unusual for Singaporeans to make the trek to The Prata Place. It’s a bit difficult to find parking if you drive, and it isn’t near any MRT stations. Nonetheless, it does a roaring trade in pratas. Head down and try it for yourself!
Mr and Mrs Mohgan's Super Crispy Roti Prata
7 Crane Road, Singapore 429356
All you have to hear is the name to know what this stall is about. With over 30 years of prata making under his belt, Mr Mohgan’s pratas are a bit smaller than usual but live up to the super crispy name!
Sin Ming Roti Prata
24 Sin Ming Road, #01-51, Jin Fa Kopitiam, Singapore 570024
What is it about the Upper Thomson area that led to this cluster of great prata places? It’s a bit of a mystery but we’re not complaining. Sin Ming Roti Prata is yet another great prata joint with awesome curry.