What is Roti Prata?

K.C. Bruning

Roti prata is a traditional fried pancake from South India, where it is more commonly known as prata. It is also a staple food in East Asian nations such as Singapore and Malaysia where it was introduced by Indian immigrants. Roti prata is primarily eaten for breakfast, though it is also a common part of lunch and dinner. The dish is served with a wide array of accompaniments and condiments, including curry gravy, egg, and sugar. It can also be served with chicken or fish curry dishes.

Ghee, which is used in making roti pasta.
Ghee, which is used in making roti pasta.

Skilled prata makers are renowned for their often theatrical ability to create the dish. Many will put on a show for their customers while they are preparing the dough to be fried. They start with a ball of dough, which, with a series of flicks, tosses and manipulations, is transformed into a thin sheet. The dough is then folded into a square and fried to a golden brown on a hot griddle. A finished roti prata may be served flat or rolled into a cone.

Sardines are sometimes used as a topping on roti prata.
Sardines are sometimes used as a topping on roti prata.

Customers usually order roti prata to their own specifications. Variations depend upon the region. They can ask to have it plain, stuffed with onion, or with an egg either cooked inside or fried on top of the pancake. It can also be topped with a wide array of accompaniments, including cheese, sardines, and ice cream. Other variations can include mushrooms, banana pieces, red beans, and chocolate. Roti prata may also be served with simply a sprinkling of sugar or curry gravy.

Variations of roti prata often feature red beans.
Variations of roti prata often feature red beans.

Home preparation of roti prata is a fairly straightforward process, though it does take some skill to properly manipulate the dough. Flour and salt are sifted together and mixed with melted ghee to make a crumbly mixture. Then milk is mixed into the batter. The completed dough is kneaded for several minutes before it is cut into pieces which are then rolled into individual balls. The dough balls are flattened and rubbed with ghee.

Next, the dough balls are covered with a wet cloth and allowed to sit for several hours. Once the dough is ready, the balls are rolled into flat circles. These are fried in a greased skillet until they are browned and puffy. The appearance of blisters on the pancake is a sure sign that a prata is ready to be removed from the pan. Before eating, roti prata should be drained on paper towels.

Chocolate may be added to a roti prata.
Chocolate may be added to a roti prata.

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Discussion Comments

anon212385

Yay! Looks yummy. I would want to try this at home. Thank you for sharing your Roti Prata food experience.

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