A Sticky Banana Roti in Phuket Town
Walking further down Thalang Road in Phuket Town, my belly full of Hokkien mee, I was looking for something sweet to round of my meal with and was contemplating the crushed almond Magnum, a childhood favorite with an unfortunate name, a treat I devoured so happily on trips before my calorie counting stage of life. I found something better. Roti by Abdul. Abdul is a 74 year old immigrant to Thailand and his family has been making roti for 7 generations? How do I know this? There’s a sign that says so. I don’t know where they’re from though because they didn’t understand that question and didn’t really look like they wanted to answer anyway. Abdul was quite the character though, almost fully naked apart from a towel wrapped around his waist, constantly bossing around the 4 chubby fully-wrapped women who worked the roti station.
I sat down and said one maida paratha, which I’ve learned is the Thai term for what I wanted, a banana and egg roti drizzled with condensed milk and sprinkled with sugar. Not sure if they understood but it was probably the only thing they made anyway, considering that the roti station had only dough, those tiny little chode bananas, cans of condensed milk and a box of sugar.
The woman pinched off a piece of wheat flour dough and stretched it multiple ways until it was as big as a pizza but about a fourth the thickness. She cracked an egg on it which fried indirectly through the dough, melting into it, and then chopped up some mini bananas and added those in the center as well. She folded over the dough over the filling twice, forming a square-shaped little package which she then chopped into squares, drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and sprinkled with sugar.
I ate the stuff hungrily. The thinned out edges of the dough were crispy while the inside of the thing was pillow soft. The egg added an extra puffy quality to the already airy dough. The bananas cooked perfectly, softening, the outsides caramelizing and blending nicely with the crystallized sugar and velvety smooth, sickly sweet condensed milk on the outside.
Smiles and head nods all around – mine of satisfaction, theirs of pride.