South Indian cuisine has been given a rigid image by North India, among other parts of the country. This stereotypical image carries dishes such as Idli Sambar, Dosa, and Uttapam.
One dish that slips right out from this stereotypical image but is equally popular, so much so that it can be considered as one of the signature dishes in South India, is the Malabar Parotta. Known for its flaky and soft texture and its folded and layered appearance, parotta is a south Indian flatbread that is quite popular for its versatility.
You name it and this flatbread can become quite an apt element on plates containing all kinds of dishes. From Rasam to Sambhar, from beef fry to chicken curry, from aloo curry to chutney, parotta can be severed will everything.
The origins of the flaky flatbread are still not clear but it is believed that its roots can be traced back to the Arabian nations. The sea trade being the medium for the original recipe to come to India and transform according to the Indian sub-continent, parotta quickly gained traction in a place where rice was a dominant diet.
The Malabar or Kerala Parotta is, many a time, confused with the North Indian Laccha Paratha. But South Indians have time and again made a distinction, and rightly so, between the two. Be it the phonetics (pa-ro-ta and pa-ra-ta) or the recipe and preparation, the two differ on all grounds.
The parotta also made quite a buzz on social media recently for not food-related but finance-related reasons. Parotta was at the forefront of a fierce discourse over GST slabs. The Karnataka bench of the Authority of Advance Rulings (AAR) said that, unlike Rotis and Khakhras which are imposed with five per cent GST, the parottas will attract 18 per cent GST. This started a frenzy of hashtags such as HandsOffKerala and HandsOffParotta, in order to contend with the decision.
The next time you are in a South Indian state or are in the vicinity of a South Indian restaurant, do go and taste this ultimate, divided flatbread, uniting people across state borders.