My cousin, Khin Khin Lat, suggested we spend the last couple of days in Rangoon eating our way through the food that we would not have time to cook ourselves. Being located down town there were no shortage of choices.
Breakfast started fairly early; the best time of day when it was still cool enough to explore the numerous food stalls. We headed towards the Indian quarter as I wanted Christopher to try pea pyote and palata, our first of many breakfasts that day.
We sat outside sipping sweet milky tea while watching the palata being made. There were three men in the tiny kitchen that opened out onto the street. One to stretch and fold the palata, the other to fry and the third to assemble the dish before it arrived on our table.
I was particularly interested to see how the layers were created as there are several methods which I explain below. The palata were cut into quarters and served with a large spoonful of sweet pe pyote.
400g plain (all purpose) flour
½ teaspoon salt
20g caster (superfine) sugar
1 egg, beaten
peanut oil for greasing & frying
Sieve flour into a mixing bowl. Add salt, sugar and butter. Rub butter until it resembles bread crumbs. Make a well in the middle, add egg and milk. Then gradually add water while mixing with hand until it comes together to a sticky dough.
Turn out onto a well-oiled non-stick work surface and knead for 10 minutes. You will find the dough gradually becoming soft and elastic.
Divide into 8 portions and roll into balls with well-oiled hands. Put on a plate and cover with cling film. Leave to rest for at least an hour. You can make this a day in advance and leave the dough in the fridge over night.
When you are ready to use, (if using from the fridge, take out well in advance so the dough is at room temperature) grease the work surface and hands with oil. Take a dough ball and with a palm press down to flatten then stretch into a circular shape. The important thing here to make sure the dough is as thin as can be, almost see through. Brush oil over the dough.
There are serveral of ways of creating the layers:
- Simplest is to fold two ends over so it becomes an elongated shape. Fold over opposite sides to create a square. This will not create many layers.
- Similar to Chinese pancakes, cut from the centre of the circle to the other edge. Take one edge and roll around the circle to form a cone. Put the cone upright and press down with palm to create a disc again.
- I’ve seen this third method in Burma as well as the Roti makers in Malaysia. Fold two sides of the circle inward to create an rough rectangle. Pick up both ends of the length, stretch to form a long rope and wind into a ball. Flatten the dough again into a disc with the palm.
Once the folding is done, cover with a damp cloth so that a skin does not form on the surface.
Heat a generous amount of oil in a non-stick frying fan. On moderate heat fry one at a time until golden brown, flip and cook the other side. Serve while they are hot with sweet pea paste.
For a savoury version, reduce the amount of sugar and serve with a curry or lentil dhal.
Cooking time: 45 mins excludes resting dough