Roti Prata has always been a favourite local Indian dish, and now, a stall in a coffeeshop tucked away in a Woodlands industrial estate is trying to make the prata experience a more colourful one.
The stall, named Banana Leaf Pork Briyani (BLPB), offers a variety of pratas available in colours such as yellow, blue, green, pink, purple and orange. On some days, there are even special items such as paddle pop, unicorn and galaxy, which is a mix of some of the colours.
Despite having officially opened barely a month ago on 9 September, most of their pratas sell out by the end of each day, BLPB co-owner Maha Letchimi shared in an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore at the stall on Tuesday afternoon (10 October).
The 36-year-old explained that the pratas are made just like normal prata, but with tiny drops of food colourings added. She stressed that the food colourings have been approved by the relevant authorities, and that customers do not have to worry about them being harmful to the body.
“Many people feel that food colourings are unhealthy but, because the amount of colouring used is very little, it is not going to harm the body,” she reassured. “It is the same kind of colouring used in other foods like cakes and pastries.”
While the colourful pratas taste the same as normal ones, BLPB ensures that it uses good quality flour, butter and dough. The pratas can be ordered plain, or with the addition of ingredients such as cheese, egg, onion, milk butter and even ice cream. The pratas are priced from S$1.50 to S$4.
As its name suggests, BLPB is also famous for its pork briyani (S$8), which is served with an egg, salad and thick meat. The briyani can also be ordered with black chicken (S$8), pork cutlet (S$8), chicken wing (S$7) and, on weekends, lobster (S$24).
To ensure the quality of the food, BLPB cooks the food fresh every day in three waves – morning, afternoon and night. Maha shared, “We work from the heart. I believe that it is about being kind and putting ourselves in the customers shoes. Would we want to eat something that is not fresh?”
However, BLPB did face problems when Muslim customers wondered why pork was being served with briyani instead of the usual chicken or mutton. As pork is non-halal, observant Muslim customers cannot eat the dish.
“We have already stated clearly on our menu and signboard that we serve non-halal food, especially with the word pork written prominently in the middle,” Maha said.
But nonetheless, BLPB has received praise from its customers for its creative twists to such local culinary stalwarts. Eighteen-year-old student Celestial Yu, who tried the colourful prata said, “I was attracted to the stall because colourful prata is something I’ve never heard of before! It looks unique but yet retains the traditional taste.”
Others felt that such twists to food were more of a marketing tactic. “There’s nothing really special about the taste of the food, but I guess it’s good publicity because look what I’m trying now!”, said customer Robert Chan, 34, who ordered the pork briyani.
BLPB is owned by Maha and her 37-year-old husband Suresh Anand, together with their friends Meena and Rengan Balakrishnan, who are also a couple.
As someone who loves colours, Maha was behind the idea of the colourful prata while Rengan thought of the pork briyani. The stall was birthed after the co-owners decided to put the two creative ideas together.
As Maha had a full-time job in the early childhood and adoption industry, the idea was only put to play this year when the timing was right. The four co-owners now run the stall together and have hired around five workers to help with the cooking, cleaning and serving as well.
“It’s been a really good experience running the stall so far, and things have been rather smooth,” Maha shared. “Luckily, the Balakrishnans have worked in the food industry before and know the ropes well.”
When asked how many people BLPB intends to attract, Maha said, “There is no limit to this vision of having people come and queue for our food; it is really a dream.”
BLPB plans to open more outlets in the future and has also promised new dishes on the menu, including salmon briyani and roti jala. More updates of the stall’s happenings and menu can be found on their Facebook page.
Banana Leaf Pork Briyani is located at 71 Woodlands Industrial ParkE9 @WAVE9 #01-04. It is open daily except Mondays from 8am to 9pm.
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