Monday, 24 September 2012

I can do it better!

Varki Paratha

Mamak, a Malaysian street food eatery from Sydney has recently opened an outlet downstairs on Lonsdale Street. Right from day one they have been full, with patrons queuing up for hours to get in!

Intending to get a takeaway, we joined people lined up at the glass picture window – the queues will soon get longer than at the legendary Myer windows with their Christmas tableaux!

It’s mesmerising to see the young blokes skillfully flipping the Roti Canai (AKA Malabari Paratha) Roti Susu (Malbari Paratha with condensed milk) and Roti Telur…

Wow! This is the kind of response I would like when – er- I mean IF - I establish a restaurant!

The thought is very tempting- but the second thought foreboding!

Long hours, weekend work, backbreaking work, stringent food safety and occupational health and safety laws to be followed, work place regulations, human resource management, customer relations/service management, quality control marketing-NOOOOO!

We tuck into the flaky parathas and the tasty Curry Sayur, but the “ I can do a better job than this” syndrome rears its head!

This thought fleets across our minds every time we eat out or take out- and every time we make and eat a wonderful dish at home. Yesterday was one such occasion. Having eaten Mamak's wonderful rotis, I picked up the gauntlet yet again and was trawling the web researching Mamak style Roti Canai to go with the Gobhi Fry in Mustard oil that I was planning, when in some strange convoluted way I ended up looking at this recipe on Tarla Dalal’s website. Possibly the name caught my fancy, 'Varki' possibly refers to vark- foil. 

Parathas with layers as thin as foil! Hmmm... 

Mamak's Roti Canai was good. I can do it better...

The parathas turned out to be one of the simplest and tastiest ever! They were flaky, but retained the wholesome goodness of whole-wheat bread- unlike Mamak's roti!

Of course, I had made some modifications- added some spice and used oil instead of ghee…


2 cups plain flour
2 cups atta
Salt to taste
2 tsp crushed pepper, ajwain, zeera
2 tbsp rice flour
2 tbsp oil to mix with rice flour
Oil to cook the parathas
Water to knead

In a mixing bowl, add the flours, salt, crushed spices and water to make a soft but firm dough. Grease your hands with oil and knead well. Keep covered for 15-20 minutes.

Make equal sized large balls of the dough and roll out three large chapatis first. Mix the rice flour and oil (on second thoughts I feel ghee or butter would have been better to spread the mixture) and spread a thin layer on a chapati, place one more chapati on it and repeat the process.  You will now have a stack of three chapatis with the rice flour – oil mixture in between. Roll the stack firmly into a log and cut the log into inch and a half thick slices.

Repeat this process with all the balls of dough.

Heat a non-stick griddle or tava . Roll out each thick slice of dough with a very light hand, pressing on one side to let the layers fan out and separate on heating.
Cook the parathas on medium heat after dotting it with oil on both sides. Tease out the layers by pressing with a dishcloth, which will make the roti puff up and cause the layers to separate.

When cooked, remove from heat and fluff up the paratha with both the hands. This will break the layers, but open them up. 

Serve the rotis hot with any curry. We ate some just off the tava, by themselves!

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