This is a flat bread which is flaky and made of several layers to become a fancy bread. It is mainly a street food in Kerala and slowly it has turned into a celebrated food. It is now served in high-end restaurants too, due to its popularity. Normally, it is made with white flour and a lot of oil…very unhealthy but addictive like all things evil! A combination of white flour and fat can make everything irresistible and yummy! No wonder, it has gained undue recognition and attention!
It is available as Malabar Porotta, in the frozen food sections in Kerala stores. The common accompaniments that go with Porotta range from spicy tomato fry, green peas masala, vegetable or meat kurma, egg curry to plain yogurt and pickle. I have met people who are crazy about this porotta and consider it as an absolute delicacy.
The most interesting part is to watch it being made in small road side stalls called ‘Thattukada’. I have stood there wide eyed, looking at the tactics and techniques used by the cook. The usual method employed in street shops, is to knead white flour (Maida) using a lot of oil and allowing it to rest for sometime. Then the Porotta Master, (title given to the expert cook) flattens it by hand stretching the gluttonous dough and spreading it out on the work top as a paper thin sheet. Adding more oil, he gathers it as folds and stretches it again and spirals it as a ball. It involves a lot of skillful maneuvers to get the right texture. It is again left for a while covered by a wet cloth and then rolled into disks and cooked.
Porotta has gradually moved from an eat-out treat to a home made special food. It was considered difficult to recreate it at home without the expertise of a trained cook. With a little creativity and kitchen skills, home cooks have transformed it to a family favourite meal. A lot of oil and simple modifications made it possible. I used to roll the dough thin and make fan like gathering before rolling it into a disks to create the layers. It was still a poor imitation of the original.
I came across a different method of making it, using very little oil on beyondcurries which was quite fascinating. Less oil and the whole wheat flour (Atta) to make layered porotta was something worth a trial.
First, I made some whole wheat flour Porotta to give it an acid test. It turned out to be great with the desired texture and perfect peel-able kind of layering.
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- warm water
- Some flour for rolling the porotta
- Take 1½ cups of whole wheat flour in a mixing bowl.
- Add enough salt to 2 tbsp water and dissolve it.
- Pour this into wheat flour and mix well and then add enough warm water to make a soft dough.
- Knead it until it is a soft, pliable dough.
- Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 5 balls.
- Take a ball and roll it into a thin chappati.
- Sprinkle some oil on it and dust it with wheat flour.
- Cut the rolled dough into 5-6 strips using a pizza cutter or knife.
- Roll the first strip like a paper roll and continue overlapping with the remaining strips.
- After all the strips are rolled up, it will look like a flower.
- Press it down into a disk and flatten it with the hand to get the layers.
- Fatten it gently, using a rolling pin without fusing the layers.
- Cook this on a hot pan (tawa) flipping to the other side for even cooking.
- When blisters appear on the porotta, drizzle some oil and repeat it on the other side.
- Continue with the remaining dough balls.
After trying with whole wheat flour, I made it with all purpose flour just to compare the texture and quality. It was definitely better. If you want to indulge without a care and get closer to the real street food taste, this is the one to try.