Ah Prata, one of my all time favourite breakfast food. I don’t know why, but it might have something to do with how my Pa used to bring me to the coffeeshop in Toa Payoh Lor 8 to eat prata. If I remember correctly, $1 used to buy 10 pratas and you could bring an egg to the prata man so that he can add it to the prata for you. As with most kids, I started off eating prata dipped in sugar. Then gradually, I learnt that dipping it in the curry can be quite shiok, albeit a little spicy. But I still liked the sugar so I ended up dipping in the curry, then the sugar. I sometimes still eat it that way nowadays.
Speaking of eating Prata as a father and son (or daughter) thing, I too brought my son to eat prata with me on this occasion. He still does not want to dip in the curry, hopefully one day he will realise what he has been missing. It’s amazing that my fondest memories with my Pa are just these simple things we used to do together while my brothers were still to young to tag along. So I guess it is important to remember to spend one-on-one time with your own kids regularly so that they have some fond memories to accompany them for life.
Unfortunately, with the proliferation of 24 hour prata joints, the standard of Prata in Singapore has been waning and in some places it is just plain bad. The reason is very simple. It all has to do with ownership and passion. In the past, men from India used to come to Singapore to etch a living for themselves. So they would open a prata shop and through sheer hard work and long hours, make a name for themselves. Nowadays, the guys flapping the prata are all hired men from India and Malaysia, and unless the boss correctly incentivise them, it is difficult to ensure quality.
I have been hunting around for stalls where the owners still take pride in making their own dough and flapping their own prata. A place where they are still passionate about a simple dish which has been taken for granted and neglected.
Mr Abdul Aziz of Riyadh Muslim Food is just one such person. His father was the one who started the famous Thesevi’s which made Jalan Kayu prata a household name. When he parted ways with his brother, he started up his little stall here in an industrial park in Defu Lane. That was 20 years ago and he is still doing much the same as his father had done.
It is heartening to see a bucket of handmade dough instead of what most stalls do nowadays which is to buy them ready made. So whenever I eat at a Prata stall, I always lookout for the dough in a bucket rather than in a cardboard box. Amazingly, his dough is still handkneaded and not made with a machine. Mr Abdul tells me that handknead is still best and he doesn’t have space to put a mixer in his small shop. He still adds QBB pure Ghee in his dough to give that savoury buttery taste as well as Carnation evaporated milk. The other ingredients are Prima’s Ikan Terbang brand Flour, salt and sugar. The was tight lipped about the proportions. Doh! Or should I say, Dough!
Aside from the dough, the secret to a really good prata is simply passion and technique. Although Mr Aziz does not personally flap each prata nowadays, at 70, he is still there at the stall every minute of its opening to make sure that each prata comes out the way he wants. That is the work ethic of the first generation migrants of Singapore and amazingly, Mr Aziz still holds an Indian passport even though he has been here since the 50’s.
The pratas here are hard to beat. As with the Jalan Kayu pratas, they are small but crispy and flaky and very flavourful. As far as prata goes, this is probably one of the best ones around and the best thing is that they insist on making the prata when you order, so you are assured of fresh pratas all the time. They still do some ready made ones for those people who are in a hurry, so make sure you let Uncle know that you are in no hurry for a great prata. 4.6/5
This Prata is really special. It might not be as convenient as a 24 hour prata stall, but the limited timing just means that each prata is still made under the strict supervision of the Prata master. If you really love prata, this is one place you have to visit.