Roti hunt

The Mirror Magazine this week hits the streets of Hikkaduwa to discover the secrets behind the town’s famous roties
By Yashasvi Kannangara

Leaving Colombo for Hikkaduwa is always cause for excitement. Usually it is because of the festive like atmosphere of the coastal village and the picturesque beaches it is home to. Now tourists in Hikkaduwa are not only raving about the surfing and the waves they are also crazy about the mouthwatering Roti becoming increasingly popular at this adventure hotspot.

The search for the best Roti led us to the best Roti shop in Hikka. 373, Galle Road, Wewala, Hikkaduwa was the winner of the Roti competition held during the Hikka Beach Fest and boasts original recipes and an exotic mix of ingredients. A kilometer into the town of Hikkaduwa ‘The Roti Shop’ is placed on the land side of the road. The façade claiming to be the “No 1 Roti shop” in Hikkaduwa opens up to the road under the shade on an leafy tree. The extending bench seats and tables are inviting and outdoorsy.

Inside the shop the walls are adorned with quaint posters and framed information on Hikkaduwa. The stained glass and salvaged timber screens inside the shop create an interesting space.But the best thing about this small road-side restaurant is their fantastic array of Roti. People say that once you’re in Hikka you shouldn’t leave without tasting the Chocolate Banana Roti. A frequent customer to the Roti Shop, 33 year old Dilka Ranatunga says “You must try the avocado and prawn Roti.

It’s really really tasty. I love it”. My personal favorite is the Double Cheese Tomato Roti. The shop’s own recommendations for their most lip-smacking choices are the Banana-Chocolate-Coconut-Honey Roti, the Double-Cheese-Tomato-Onion Roti and the Avocado-Prawn-Cheese-Tomato-Garlic-Onion Roti.
The ‘Roti Shop’ founded and managed by Mr. Ranjan Wickramasekara was opened up in 1986. It has come a long way from the small Roti shop it started off as, to a rich and daring menu served piping
hot to over 400 customers a day.

These numbers prevail during the entire tourist season from November to March. The variety of Roti available at this informal, cheery restaurant are popular not only among the local tourists and the expat community but are also enjoyed by the people of Hikkaduwa themselves. The eatery is also known for its fresh fruit juices enjoyed by the many surfers of Hikkaduwa.

The making of the Roti is fairly simple. What makes it perfect depends solely on the timing and the flavor. The shop’s many chefs are efficient in the ways of the Gothamba Roti, which is the primary ingredient of the dish and makes the wrap of the Roti. The Double-Cheese-Tomato-Onion Roti belongs to the delectable Double-Cheese category and is soft, warm and melting.

First, the uncooked Gothamba Roti is placed flat on a countertop and its center is topped with a layer of cheese, tomato, onion and an extra layer of cheese on top. Salt, pepper and other secret ingredients are added as seasoning. It is then folded into a square the way a usual egg Roti is folded and placed on a heated, iron stove.

While it warms the ingredients and melts the cheese, this also helps the Roti cook. Using tongs the Roti maker presses the Roti against the heated iron in order for wrap to brown and crisp. During the process you can see the top of the Gothamba become translucent giving hints of the tomato, cheese and onion within. Once the underside of the Roti is cooked well you flip it and continue cooking the rest. When the Roti is done and ready to eat, you can either slice it up or eat it whole. Either way it takes your taste buds on a joyride making you want more.

The search led us next to the ‘Roti restaurant’ located two kilometers away from the town. The ‘Roti Restaurant’ is famed for its Kottu Roti and their own version of the chocolate banana Roti. Entering the shop, passing the brightly colored yellow tables you are surprised to see the purple Scooty-Pep parked right in the middle of it. The shop also seems to sell other groceries and house hold items. Founded by H.H. Piuma, 15 years ago this restaurant is run by a family. Today her son, P.A. Dilip overlooks the business of the Roti. But the ‘Roti Restaurant’ is open only at night and our visit during the day proved futile. However the owners declared their most favored Rotis as being the Chicken-Cheese-Roti and the Cheese-Bacon-Roti.

Next we headed off to the ‘The Rotty Shop’ right across the road which was isolated except for the loud lettering displaying their menu. The shop was closed and a bystander stated that it will open for the beginning of the season in November. The top of the list mentioned a cheese vegetable Roti and a Pineapple Roti and we could only assume that these are their priority food items. Established 29 years ago, the shop is owned and run by K.A. Sunil de Silva and is said to be the first Roti shop of the area. Although in appearance it seems run down and neglected it is this shop that is credited with the beginnings of the famous Roti tradition of Hikkaduwa.

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