If you don't know how to make parottas, don't worry.
At the Selfie Parotta Coaching Centre you can master the skill in 10 days and start a catering business on your own, discovers A Ganesh Nadar.
Prime Minister Narendra D Modi once suggested selling pakodas as an option for the jobless, but in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu, selling parottas may be a better option.
Any pavement where there is a crowd passing by will do. You put up a hot stove with a huge skillet that can make 20 parottas at a time and you are ready for business. You start at 6 pm and you can go home at 1 am.
Okay, so you say you don't know how to make parottas? Not to worry. In Madurai there is the Selfie Parotta Coaching Centre.
For a Bachelor of Parotta Making certificate you need to attend classes for 10 days.
Mohamed Kasim, 30, who runs this coaching centre tells us that the classes are held for four hours in a day. Two hours in the morning, and two hours in the afternoon.
Right from kneading the flour, rolling the parotta, beating it up, swinging it in the air to finally coaxing it into the right shape is an art by itself.
The North Indian roti is rolled with a wooden roller but the South Indian parotta is entirely made by hand.
There are numerous varieties of parottas taught here.
There is the normal parotta made on a flat iron pan, the fried parotta made in boiling oil, the kothu parotta, which is first made and then minced on the hot flat pan along with egg, chicken or mutton -- as per the customer's choice.
They also teach you how to make Singapore Parotta and Malaysia Parotta, countries which have a strong Tamil presence.
Along with the parotta you have the cheap chalna, which is a curry but without any meat. You make it with bones of chicken or mutton.
Then there is egg curry, chicken curry and mutton curry and the more exclusive and expensive Mutton Sukka.
For the vegetarian there are vegetarian dishes too, but the parotta remains the same.
Along with the parotta, students are also taught to make idli, dosa, uttapam, appam and idiyappam.
Here too they are taught right from making the batter to steaming it for idli, appam and idiyappam.
Dosa, uttapam are cooked on a skillet with a little oil.
To make a Masala Dosa, you have to add some potato bhaji in the centre before folding the dosa.
In the dosa too there is the Paper Dosa (very thin), Ghee Dosa, Podi Dosa (where a dry chutney powder is added) and Special Dosa which is actually bigger in size and you deliver it on the plate in a cone shape.
For the batter you use 1/3rd urad dal with 2/3rd rice (as a proportion). You have to soak each separately for three hours.
They are ground separately, but after that they are mixed together and left to ferment overnight.
If you want your idlis and dosas to be soft all you need to do is add a little curd to this mix.
The batter will rise in a few hours and you know that fermentation is complete.
For all the above, the tuition fees is Rs 4,000 for the 10-day course.
Then there is a course for Chinese dishes for which you pay Rs 5,000 for a 10-day course. Here you are taught Chinese items like noodles, fried rice and other dishes.
If are not from Madurai and you need to stay with them, you pay Rs 2,000 for 10 days lodging minus meals.
The courses are available online, but the fees are much higher -- Rs 10,000 for 10 days.
Mohammed Kasim has been running these classes for five years. He has four teachers working for him.
Each batch has 25 students. At present they have two batches. He also runs a hotel.
Kasim also provides the students with jobs all over Tamil Nadu.
"They will get a salary of Rs 800 to Rs 1,500 per day when they join," he says.
Their youngest student is 18 years old, the eldest is 70.
Kasim has trained over 2,000 parotta masters in these five years.
The online classes attract 20 students every month. The online students are from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.
There is no language problem as it is Tamilians who come online so that they can sell Madurai parottas in their adopted countries.
At the end of the course you get a certificate saying you are a qualified parotta master.
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com