Lightly warm about 1/2 cup water. Dissolve the sugar and yeast in it. Leave it aside for about 5 to 10 minutes till frothy. Melt the butter, garlic paste and herbs together in a small pan. Keep aside to allow the flavours to develop.
Put the olive oil, salt, and flour in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your kneading machine. Add the frothy yeast and as much water, as required, and knead till you have a soft, smooth and elastic dough that is just short of sticky.
Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm water, yeast, and granulated sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball, and transfer to a well-oiled bowl, turning well to coat with oil. Cover loosely and let it rise till double, about 1 1/2 hours or so.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter. Gently knead the dough a couple of times and divide into twelve equal portions. Roll each portion into an 8-inch long rope and tie into a single knot. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Place the shaped knots on a greased or paper lined baking sheet. Cover loosely and let them rise till puffy, about 45 minutes. Brush each roll with the melted butter and bake them at 200C (400F) for about 20 minutes or so till done and golden brown in colour.
Lightly brush the hot rolls again with the melted butter if you like. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese, if using. Serve warm.