HAPPY DEEPAVALI, Makan Kakis! In this month’s feel-good food video, Denise is hot on the trail of unique Roti Prata, as recommended by her foodie friends, Group Executive Chef Anthony Yeoh (of Bird Bird & Artichoke) and One-Michelin-Star Chef Rishi Naleendra (of Cheek by Jowl).
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 skills are in the kneading, folding and the flipping of the dough till you get layer upon layer of prata perfection. Add curries of varying meats, vegetables and spices, you’ll find a textural & flavour combination that’s hard to beat. Here are two options if you’re looking for prata that’s extra crispy, or extra spicy:
HEAR: CLICK HERE for this week’s fluffy, spicy episode!
This week, our Makan Kaki Chef Anthony Yeoh takes us to Tekka Market for his usual Prata fix. Run by a cute, friendly Malay couple, Prata Saga Sambal Berlada serves up delicious fried pastries with a little twist. In a world of crispy-style tissue pratas, this is one stall that does things old-school.
Soft, fluffy (Pakcik smashes each square pastry with his hands to fluff them up after frying), with a touch of surface crispness, this traditional prata stands apart from others with its accompanying curries. Why? The answer is in the name of the stall! The flavour of the dish is enhanced with a dollop of spicy-sweet SAMBAL!
The sambal completely changes the taste of the curry – choose from chicken or fish – and gives it a unique lift. So if you think you’ve tried everything you needed to try when it comes to prata, pay this stall a visit! Sambal prata is certainly a first for us Makan Kakis! And actually, even if you don’t fancy the sambal, just the plain prata is of incredible quality and definitely worth a try.
Above is 2 plain pratas with fish curry and sambal, but as you can see below, they serve so many other variations, including onion, egg, cheese and even murtabak!
TASTE: Prata Saga Sambal Berlada
#01-258 Tekka Market and Food Centre
665 Buffalo Road, S(210665)
Open Daily: 7am – 4pm
This week, we meet a new Makan Kaki, head chef of Modern Australian Restaurant, Cheek By Jowl at 21 Boon Tat Street. Rishi Naleendra was born in Sri Lanka, but moved to Australia to study and work. He cut his culinary teeth at renowned restaurants like Tetsuya and Taxi, before moving to Singapore to start his open kitchen restaurant with his wife Manuela. He handles everything in the kitchen and in his words, Manuela handles “everything else”, including the wines!
Click here to hear our chat about Cheek by Jowl and his approach to cooking for diners.
Click here for where this chef likes to eat locally when he’s not cooking at his restaurant!
OK, Foodie Friends, time for an oldie but a goodie – Easties will be familiar with this Joo Chiat favourite and it’s no surprise that Chef Rishi has chosen this simple, Mom-and-Pop shop as one of his go-to places for local Indian food. In Sri Lanka, they have something similar but more doughy and chewy, so Singapore-style Roti Prata was a revelation to him. First of all, this is a prata that absolutely lives up to its name – it really is SUPER CRISPY! Crisp & flaky on the outside, yet fluffy on the inside, Chef Rishi says this one is a winner on all counts – flavour, texture are all on point. Dipped into the fish curry that is substantial, tasty and redolent with that seafoody aroma, the prata is really an addictive dish.
Chef Rishi’s been trying to cut down, but when he first moved to Singapore, he couldn’t get enough of this prata – he would usually order up 2 plain pratas, one egg and one plaster. In particular, the plaster is something he’s never seen anywhere else besides Singapore & Malaysia and it reminds him of that typically western breakfast of egg on toast. Prata Plaster is the Singapore version and when you cut into it, that runny yolk, combined with the crispy fried pastry, is in his opinion, ‘perfection”!
Prata Plaster in the making by Mr Moghan & his assistant:
Look at that egg!
The beauteous result:
Mr & Mrs Mohgan, together with their helpers, have a great little business going and see a steady stream of customers everyday. Be prepared for a bit of a wait, but Mr Mohgan does his fastest best. The whole set-up is efficient, and to keep track, orders (both dine-in & takeaway) are handwritten on Mrs Mohgan’s clipboard. Mrs Mohgan is a cute, friendly lady who’s so used to food “tourists”, she amiably moves aside and waits for you to take photos and when your order is ready, she calls you sister or brother with a gentle smile. You gotta go try the Mr & Mrs Mohgan experience!
Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata
Poh Ho Restaurant
7 Crane Road, S429356
Open: 6.30am – 1.30pm (closed on Tues/Wed 3rd week of the month)
Click HERE for a taste of this week’s mouth-watering episode!
SEE: Upper Thomson Road has turned into quite the bustling haven for cafes, restaurants and other eating places, but tucked behind in Sin Ming is an outstanding coffee shop that boasts a variety of excellent food stalls, which deserve a mention in this week’s episode of Makan Kakis. And to tell us all about it is food writer & co-author of food guide Eat. Muse. Love. Toh Mu Qin. Jing Fa Coffeeshop hosts a revelation of hawker favourites and in particular, Mu Qin is partial to the Prata served up here.
These individually made-to-order, made-from-scratch (not mass produced in a factory) pratas are crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and deliciously aromatic with those buttery-sweet flavours in the dough. Choose from rich and creamy chicken, fish, vegetarian or mutton curries to go with your prata. Their Nasi Briyani is also worth a try, especially if you have it with the killer fried chicken!
For fans of Char Kway Teow, you might remember the wildly popular Armenian Street stall that has been shut for many years, but what a pleasant discovery that a branch has popped up in Jing Fa Coffee Shop and yes, it’s very good!
Another favourite of Mu Qin’s family is the Economical Rice Stall which always sees long queues especially during lunch time, which means whilst the food is really wonderful, you won’t always get all of what you want, given the high demand. But still, if you have the time and patience, the wait is worth it.
If it’s just a morning cuppa and a little bite for breakfast, you can’t go wrong with the kaya toast, soft-boiled egg set at Jing Fa.
TASTE: JING FA COFFEESHOP
Block 24 Sin Ming Road
Open daily 6am – 12 midnight (but food stalls close at around 6pm)
SEE: Awfully Chocolate‘s Lyn Lee (by the way, scroll down to check out her other restaurant,Everything with Fries‘ latest dessert offering!) returns to talk about her favourite breakfast foods – great at any time of the day, especially if you visit a very well-known coffeeshop in the Joo Chiat area. Along Crane Road, you’ll find a charming old coffeeshop that looks like a relic from the 50s, called Poh Ho Restaurant. Within this traditional setting, you’ll find the famous and extremely popular Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prataand equally famous Hock Thye Noodle House which serves up excellent wanton mee (Lyn likes to ask for stewed mushrooms to be added for extra earthy, umami flavour!).
However, today, Lyn wants to introduce us to another stall in Poh Ho Restaurant that is often overlooked because it serves that humble breakfast staple, Econ Bee Hoon. What really elevates the standard of the food served here is their deep-fried chicken wings! With just a hint of irresistable Har Cheong (prawn paste), these wings are sublimely crispy & juicy. The bee hoon is well-fried, not soggy and has just enough pleasing colour from the soy seasoning. But the surprise discovery for Lyn was that this stall, while it does very brisk business with its breakfast bee hoon, by 11-ish, it morphs into a economic rice stall that sees even brisker business and long queues!
Mei Wei Economic Bee Hoon & Rice, as it turns out, has been at Poh Ho for years and years – now run by a relatively young man and his brother, it was started by their father who has a big following of old-timers hankering after his traditional signature dishes. Their mother is still around, cooking as the brothers serve and the queues are worth it.
Lyn observed this curious lunchtime queue, where customers would literally wipe out every single dish whipped up by the brothers in minutes. As fast as the hot dishes were cooked, they would sell out, so much so that you never quite see the full set of 10 or so dishes you normally would at an econ rice stall. Customers were so eager for the fresh, hot food that they got in line and made do with whatever they could heap on their plates of rice. Same thing happened with Lyn – on the day she queued, she managed to get hand-stuffed yong tau foo and a wonderful old-fashioned tau yew bak (black soy stewed pork belly) which was so tasty and nostalgic of grandma’s cooking. The vegetables weren’t ready yet, so that’s all she got – 2 meaty dishes on rice. But it was enough to have her going back for more.
She tries to vary her timings so that she gets to try a couple of different dishes each time, depending on availability! She also recommends their stir-fried bittergourd and fried fish. A word on the fish – we’re talking a whole fish, not always the same kind, deep-fried to perfection and the one dish every single customer seems to order. They literally will hang around waiting until they see it emerge from the wok, before swooping in line to snap up whatever supply there is. Such is the devotion of the diners!
Mei Wei Economic Bee Hoon & Rice Poh Ho Restaurant
7 Crane Road
P.S. Introducing Lyn Lee’s pride and joy, the latest addition to Everything with Fries’ menu, their first-ever ice cream dessert – the Ice Cream Accident that takes you back to your childhood when your unstable little hands may have dropped a cone or two… Now you’re all grown up, you might want to relive those moments with this deliberately down-turned cone sitting in a delicious bed of chocolate soil. The ice-cream is what Lyn describes as a lighter, softer version of their popular Awfully Chocolate Hei ice cream. Head on over to Everything with Fries’ flagship store at Holland Village for a taste of the Ice Cream Accident!
This week, our intrepid Makan Kaki Juwanda Hassim, The Fabulous Baker Boy, wants to share a recent discovery Vegetarians will love. Non-vegetarians will love it too, because taste-wise, the satisfying array of dishes never disappoint. This Indian Vegetarian restaurant, which started almost 100 years ago in Bangalore India, has been getting rave reviews since it opened here in Singapore 3 years ago and was recommended by a couple of friends originally from Chennai, who are definitely in the know when it comes to what’s good and what’s not! So what’s the big fuss over MTR 1924? First of all, Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, better known as MTR, takes the purity of their vegetarian food very seriously – even the restaurant is spotless. The open kitchen sees dish after dish of South Indian Vegetarian delicacies being served daily, but here are some of Juwanda’s favourites.
Their Masala Dosa is served as a folded triangle, smaller than the usual, but it’s so crusty, crispy and manages to maintain that irresistible crispness. Extra flavour is brushed on in the form of magic butter – ghee and everything blends together perfectly – the condiments, the potato filling that’s perfectly cooked and never mushy.
Rava Idli is another must-try. It’s a steamed semolina cake with yoghurt, coriander, cashews, curry leaves, mustard seeds and ghee, served with potato sagu and chutney. Also look out for their sweet version.
They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, with a special set menu that changes daily, so you can literally eat there everyday and taste something different and delicious! And be sure to order a cup of their filter coffee to go along with dessert.
Last word from Juwanda. Dining at MTR is such a joyous expereince. Pure happiness is knowing that the owners take such pride in the food they serve and what you’re eating is healthy, pure and light.
You might have noticed that your Makan Kakis have an enduring endearment for Mom & Pop shops that serve up good, honest food and this week’s recommendation is no different. If prata is your preference, let us tell you about one guy produces pratas that puff up above the rest!
Seetoh’s pet peeve is the homogenisation of prata doughs, all tasting suspiciously the same because they’ve been pre-mixed and created in a factory somewhere and then distributed to XYZ prata stalls across the island. What we’re looking for is a dough that yields lots of flavour that comes from being lovingly, painstakingly hand-made, not mass produced!
Mohgan is one such dedicated hawker who makes his dough from scratch, at his humble little stand alone stall (no franchises here!), with a little special addition of milk that lifts the taste of his super crispy, yet fluffy pratas. Eat these addictive dough delights with his mean curries and you’ll be in prata heaven! You get a choice of mutton curry, fish curry or Dhal, and there’s even Sambal Ikan Bilis to go with your prata. Seetoh loves Dhal, Denise can’t resist mutton curry. But do go early – this is a strictly Breakfast-only food!