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Al-Azhar
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Makan Spotlight: Roti Prata

Sweet or savoury, this Indian-influenced flatbread can be enjoyed at any time and any place in Singapore

By Cam Khalid
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Whether it’s breakfast or supper, nothing hits the spot quite like roti prata. This local comfort food can be described as the savoury lovechild of the fluffy American pancake and the flaky French croissant. The grill-cooked flatbread is a simple dough mix of flour, water, sugar and salt, and if your chef's particularly skillful, lots of pizza-like tossing and twirling theatrics.

Despite being considered a Singapore dish, the roti prata is actually introduced by Indian immigrants. Roti prata – or roti paratha – translates to flatbread in Hindi. But its actual origin story remains a mystery. Some believe that it originated as a type of pancake from Punjab before evolving into what it is today. Others have said that it was brought over by the Muslim conquerors who also specialised in making various types of bread. And across the causeway, Malaysians call it roti canai, which some claim is a nod to its origin from Chennai.

Whatever the backstory is, the Indian-influenced prata is one of the most versatile dishes in Singapore, if not the world. Plain versions are good conduits for sugar or the usual curries that accompany a plate, but recent years have seen even more unique toppings like cheese, chicken floss, chocolate syrup and Milo powder sprinkled between the pastry folds. But if you prefer sticking to the safe side, you can’t go wrong with the classic prata kosong (which can cost as low as $1) and teh tarik combo.

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For the classic

Ananda Bhavan
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Ananda Bhavan

Restaurants Indian Rochor

For a vegetarian alternative, look no further than Ananda Bhavan. The history of one of the city’s oldest restaurants stretches back to 1924, when a Brahmin family opened up a joint along Selegie Road serving traditional Indian vegetarian dishes. That original branch is still dishing out all manner of flatbread and curries, but now, it has four sister outlets complete with its no-frills ethos. On the food front, the prata is a safe bet. But instead of your chicken or fish curry, it’s served with dal and chickpea curry.

Al-Azhar
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Al-Azhar

Restaurants Indian Bukit Timah

A popular spot for night owls, Al-Azhar (both Bukit Timah and Tampines)has your back 24 hours (now open from 8am to 1am) when it comes to a late-night supper fix. It's affectionately known for its naan, but it’s classic prata is still as toasty and crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. It’s served with the flavoursome chicken curry – you can even swap it with fish curry for the added kick. Otherwise, indulge in the popular calorie-laden prata and butter chicken set.

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mr and mrs mohgan
Photograph: Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata

Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata

Restaurants Indian Geylang

One of Singapore's best-kept secrets, this small stall is only open on weekdays and even so, tends to run out pretty early so it might take you a few tries before you finally get to try it. It's all in the actual name of the shop, really. The prata kosongs here are super crispy on the outside and much fluffier on the inside. It may sound and look so simple but there's a reason why people keep returning to this gem in Joo Chiat.

roti prata
Photograph: Azami Adiputera/Shutterstock

Saffron's Cafeteria

Restaurants Tampines

Having late-night cravings for prata? This open-air Indian joint at Tampines has your back 24/7 (now open from 7am to 10pm), and draws the hungry crowds every night – a testament to its highly raved prata. The star flatbread dish is a happy medium between fluffy and crispy, and comes with curry on the side. If you’re ordering up the crowd fave egg prata, we recommend having it with sambal for the extra heat.

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The Roti Prata House

Restaurants Bishan

You can never go wrong with The Roti Prata House. It’s one of the longest-running supper spots in Singapore, and here’s one of the many reasons why it remains popular: there are over 80 varieties of prata to choose from, including ice cream, milo, durian, and even a bomb cheese kaya prata. With so many different styles and flavours, you will be spoilt for choice. But if you’d rather stick to the crispy classic, then order the coin prata set and pair it with hot teh tarik to wash it down.

Rahmath Cheese Prata

Restaurants Singaporean Toa Payoh

Despite its name, this humble prata stall in Toa Payoh doesn’t just sell cheese prata. It also draws in new and loyal customers with crispy prata kosong and thick, fluffy egg prata, which is its bestseller. Everything is made fresh from when you order so it might take a while to dish out. Nonetheless, its daily snaking queues are enough to convince you that the prata dishes here are worth the wait – and calorie.

For prata with a twist

Kotuwa
Photograph: Kotuwa

Kotuwa

Restaurants Sri Lankan Rochor

From the chef behind Cloudstreet and Michelin-starred Cheek Bistro, comes Kotuwa. At the new Sri Lankan restaurant, Rishi Naleendra digs deep into his roots to give us a taste of his heritage. It offers an introduction and an education, presenting us dishes like chicken kottu, a popular street food of chopped flatbread, chicken and vegetables fried in spices – think of it as nasi goreng, but instead of rice, it's fried with shreds of roti prata. Then there are the curries. The dahl is perfectly cooked red lentils in a thick, creamy base with a complexity of heat and flavour that continue to build upon each other with each bite.

Springleaf Roti Prata
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Springleaf Prata Place

Restaurants Indian Yishun

Beyond the classics, Springleaf Prata Place is more famous for its Plaster Blaster, an eggs Benedict-inspired prata topped with ham, poached egg and hollandaise sauce. But that’s not all – customers are always back for its other innovative creations too. Alternative prata dishes here include the Prata Goreng, its take on mee goreng that swaps noodles for strips of prata, and the Umami 50, an egg prata with luncheon meat, cheese, chicken floss and mayo. If you’re looking to go all out, treat yourself to the Prata Alfredo which comes with rosemary smoked chicken, fresh button mushroom, mozzarella cheese and creamy alfredo sauce, all stuffed into the prata.

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prata alley
Photograph: Prata Alley

Prata Alley

Restaurants Singaporean Clementi

This prata shop in Clementi has all the trappings of a hipster cafe, a massive neon sign included. Even its menu of prata is all jazzed up – the main star being the pizza prata. For the curious sorts, The Big One will intrigue you. The pizza prata comes stuffed with chicken, peppers and olives, and topped with salami, cheese and basil leaves. You can still enjoy it with a side of fish curry too. For another interesting alternative, order up the Murtabak Maggie. It’s prata stuffed with Maggi noodles.

ice cream roti prata
Photograph: Dreamstime

Spize Bedok

Restaurants Bedok

No list of supper haunts in town is complete without this institution. There’s every comfort food you can imagine on the menu that will keep you satisfied till the A.M, including roti prata. Its Indian Kitchen menu features both the specialty and dessert prata. Treat your sweet tooth to the thick Prata Bomb, a melting combo of margarine, sugar and pastry, or the super thin, cone-shaped Tissue Prata that's seasoned with sugar. Otherwise, beat the heat with an ice cream tissue, served with a choice of salted caramel or banana-flavoured ice cream, or have your prata like a pancake topped with banana, and honey, chocolate, strawberry, or salted caramel drizzle.

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