I have been making parottas for a decade. Five years ago I moved to Madurai from my village near Sivaganga. My father Arumugam was a farmer but since crops failed, we had to search for alternative livelihood. After our loss in agriculture, I worked at a roadside Parotta stall there. I continued with the same job in Madurai, as that was what I knew best. Now, I am a parotta master.
I knead over 70 kilos of maida flour each day and make nearly 600 parottas. I know how to make 10 kinds of parottas including the muttai and salna parotta. But my speciality is the crispy veechu parottas. It’s a skill to be able to knead the flour smoothly and flatten them into the soft parottas. Adding a bit of soda uppu makes the flour smooth. The parottas should be flipped in time while on the tawa so that it’s crispy on the edges and soft in the middle.
My wife Dhanalakshmi is a home maker. I have two sons, one studying in a school nearby and the other is a toddler. I work in shifts. The day shifts start by 10 in the morning and end by 5 p.m. During night shifts, I work till 1 a.m. The parotta stall I work in is open till 2 a.m. Around 200 people eat at the stall everyday.
The making of parotta is more than an exercise. It is hard work, one that has helped me develop my biceps. I feel happy when people compare me to Arnold (Schwarzenegger).
(A fortnightly column on men and women who make Madurai what it is)