Friendly & helpful people – Learning how to make roti canai

We were sitting in the mamak stall, (a Tamil Muslim cafe style restaurant) in Old Town, Petaling Jaya, when I spontaneously thought that perhaps, if I asked nicely, the lovely people in this restaurant could teach me to make one of my favourite local dishes – Roti Canai

T, hailing down one of the staff that looked like he would be someone of authority – ‘Hi! Would you be able to teach me to make roti canai?’ (direct, I know)

Raj – ‘Sorry Miss that won’t be possible’

T, most brilliant smile – ‘Well, then would we be able to come by when you are preparing and cooking the roti canai and watch? (nods),‘and if you can give us the recipe and show us how you make it?’ (same question, different phrasing)

Raj, smiling – ‘Sure, that is no problem, when would you like to come by?’

My cousin Sheba and I arrived at the mamak stall the next afternoon during non-peak time, armed with pens, notepads, a video camera and a flash camera, looking like we were documenting footage for the Discovery Food Channel.

I wont go into the detail, but in the next few hours we were privately informed of secret ingredients and cooking techniques that were key to the fluffy success of this local delicacy!

Here’s a hint – I have a new respect for SPRITE. The drink, not the fairy, elf or pixie.

Lesson – If you don’t ask, you don’t get. And sometimes something as simple as a smile and a good attitude will get you exactly what you want.