They start up the bread oven at 5am at the Lucky Tea Garden in Mae Sot. By 9am, the party is over, all the stock has been sold and eaten. It specialises in Muslim food from Myanmar. Dough balls, which have been prepped earlier and allowed to rest, are arranged like miniature cannonballs, ready for action.
Festive tinsel still adorns the ceiling fan, which has not turned since winter began in November. There’s only one menu and it’s hung on the wall.
One chef slaps them into disks the size of a side plate, and places them on hot coals in the bread oven. They cook in a minute or so, crispy underneath, bubbly brown on top and soft inside. They are called “nam piyar”. You can eat them with cold onion and bean salad, chick pea curry or just as they come, fresh from the oven.
Another chef stretches them out and folds them up, like puff pastry, cooking them in a large shallow frying dish. Or flipping them over and over, like an Italian pizza chef, until they are wafer-thin, and frying them quickly with an egg smeared on top. Once cooked, the chef adds condensed milk and sugar, and chops the sweet roti into bite-sized chunks.
A customer wearing an Angry Bird helmet waits impatiently for her rotis.
If you fancy something savoury, they have samosas stuffed with onions and chopped vegetables, with just a hint of spice and chilli. Cheap at three for 20 pence. Lassi (yoghurt drink) is also available, but most customers go for the strong sweet tea. It is laced with condensed milk, which sits sullenly at the bottom of your cup if you don’t keep it stirred.
Another house speciality is bone marrow soup, which is delicious. Here are the bones that made the stock.
These samosas are even better than the fresh ones from the Indian sweet shop, Milan, on East Park Road in Leicester.
There is no garden attached to the Lucky Tea Garden. It is situated on a busy road, just 200m from the main town market. A full Muslim Burmese Breakfast cost me less than a quid. I was lucky to have discovered this traditional café.