A couple of months back we had our first parotta. It was in Kerela, and from that point on we ordered them at any chance. A truly amazing taste, something that is hard to explain, if you know you Indian food, is kind of like butter naan, but smaller, thicker and more delicious. The yeast free dough is coated numerous time with oil during the cooking. While we were on the house boat I was able to watch the cooks make some, but it wasn’t until Madurai (in Tamil Nadu) that I was able to photography the procedure of street parotta. Like most street food, parotta is cheap and delicious and you get see them make it right in front of you.
Although the details are little blurry right now, but I kind of remember the cook making the dough like you would any other dough (water, flour, salt, oil and sugar). You mix it and kneed it and let it sit for a while. Then you make several small balls and let that sit for 15 min. Take a dough ball and smash it against the table until it is flat, round (like pizza dough) and really thin (like a crepe).
After that you fold the sides in (now you have a long three layered crepe). You take the other sides and roll it up into a roll. Then I think you let it sit for 15 minutes.
Take the roll and flaten with you hands and the table and take the flattened roll and put it on a grill or frying pan (don’t for get to add oil to the pan). Cook for a while and when it starts to brown, flip it.
After you watch this you really feel at ease, this is about to end. You take a bunch (like 6 or so) in between you fore finger and you thumb. Lay the parotta down (like a log) and smash the log with your free hand (make sure you remove you other hand). The first time you see this you think: What are you doing? Those were perfect pieces of bread you just ruined. You would be wrong however, the smashing of the dough is essential.
The smashing of the porotta causes all the layers to seperate a little, making it easy to pick apart and enjoy fully. The end result is beyond words. Most places porotta cost about Rs12, but on the streets of Madurai, they cost Rs4 (10 cents!). We used to get a parcel of these at night and eat them in the morning with peanut butter and bananas on them. Much better the toritillas, peanut butter and bananas.