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A gingerly solution for the prata man

February 1, 2007

Today is Thaipusam and I will be at the temple at Serangoon Road taking photographs to add to my art photograph gallery. I do have some pretty good Thaipusam photos from previous years. Do visit my gallery to take a look.

So I thought I write my post now. And what better topic to write about today then… once again, roti prata?

Two days ago, I thought I would have to give up on eating roti prata because they all seem to be cooked with margarine – which means they contain deadly trans fats. Click here to read my earlier post about Prata with Planta.

And the thought of giving up prata was not very nice. Prata is a food I grew up with. And it is arguably a healthy food. After all, it is freshly made bread, unlike the regular Sunshine / Gardenia bread which could be several hours to several days old by the time you eat it. There are more reasons why regular bread is not good to eat often, but I shall discuss that at another time.

Back to the prata…

There used to be four prata stalls within walking distance of my flat. I can be considered lucky to be surrounded by four coffee shops and two food centres.

But recently, one of them closed. It was the one stall that served prata the traditional way, with dhalcha, or lentil curry. But it often served its prata cold, which could be a reason why business wasn’t good.

So that left three. And, I found out recently, two of them cooked their prata with margarine. I cannot bring myself to eat them anymore. It would have been scandalous – Mr ‘Stop Trans Fat” having margarine for breakfast! I don’t know to what extent psychology has to do with it, but once I learnt that it contained margarine, somehow the prata did not taste so good anymore.

So yesterday morning, I went to check out the third and final prata stall near my flat. I was actually on my way to another food centre about two bus stops away – the one that has youtiao fried with coconut oil. I enjoyed it so much the other day, I decided to go back.

Anyway, I walked past the prata stall and decided to ask the lady… ghee or margarine?

“Vegetable oil,” she very proudly replied.

“No ghee?”

“No. We use vegetable oil.”

“No margarine?”

“No.”

I was pleased. I will be back to eat her husband’s prata another morning. As I walked away, I suddenly realised what was the vegetable oil this prata stall used.

It’s gingerly oil – an oil traditionally used by the Indians for cooking. Non-Indians know it as sesame oil.

This is a monounsaturated fat, in the same category as olive oil, which is widely praised by Western nutritionists. It is supposed to be the “best” type of fat. It takes heat well. It will not turn rancid easily.

And so there is a ready made prata solution for those still afraid of saturated fats like ghee. Just use gingerly / sesame oil. No need for margarine. No need for trans fats.

Over at the other market, I was still hungry after my youtiao. I spotted a prata stall. Incidentally, this was the first time I saw a lady flipping the prata! Again, I asked her, ghee or margarine?

Again, she answered, “Vegetable oil.”

This time, I knew how to respond.

“Gingerly oil?”

“Yes,” she replied.

And so I happily placed my order, for one egg prata. No more worries about taking trans fats for breakfast. As a bonus, it cost me only $1, instead of the $1.20 most other stalls charge for an egg prata.

I went away happy. So now there are at least two prata stalls near my flat that don’t use margarine, one within walking distance, the other at a food centre with great youtiao and other relatively good food (which I will tell more about later).

Just before I started writing this post, I did a Google search for gingerly oil and found another pleasant surprise. It was a web page from Ananda Bhavan, which has some Indian vegetarian restaurants at Little India. It proudly proclaimed…

At Ananda Bhavan, we use Gingerly Oil in the preparation of our dishes.

It went on to talk briefly (but in more than two sentences) about the health benefits of gingerly oil in controlling high blood pressure.

And so, I have found yet another “No trans fats” restaurant. Must start compiling a list for my website soon.

If you know of eating places / food caterers that use no margarine, no vegetable shortening, no hydrogenated fats… No Trans Fats, do let me know. Let’s compile a list together.

2 comments

  1. Hey me backup again… I was thinking about the same thing!

    We do need a website which lists shops that actively does not serve trans-fat! Hopefully this list gets enought attention that other shops will think it wise to be listed in there!

    Also maybe we could do the same with food manufacturers?


  2. giant milla jovovich



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