Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo Day 26: Roti canai

My very first solo trip abroad, in the middle of my senior year of college, was to Southeast Asia: Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. The primary motivation was that I had a couple friends in Kuala Lumpur who talked up the food in their hometown. I had to go. (Also, like, everyone goes to Europe, right? Pssh, so normie. I may have been the worst.)

As formative experiences go, it was a pretty great one (one terrible case of food poisoning that ruined red wine for me forever aside). And the food was legit delicious all around. But to represent that trip, I thought I’d try my hand at something popular at the open-air cafes called mamaks we visited several times: roti canai. That’s a flaky pan-fried flatbread served with a savory dip like a curry or dal. Good for breakfast. Good for anytime, really. And it’s a process that requires skill and experience, neither of which I’m likely to master this first time out, but let’s try, anyway.

Above: Oily balls of dough, at rest.

The recipe I used wasn’t the most detailed, but I made some judgment calls along the way. For example, I used boiling water instead of room temp, for one because salt and sugar needed to dissolve in it and for another because I’ve seen that used for dumpling-like dough that gets stretched in ways called for later on.

Above: Stretched and coiled, awaiting further flattening and pan frying.

The dough gets a long rest, then it’s flattened and stretched into a big windowpane, basically, before twirling it into a loose coil. That means it doesn’t really matter if there are tears in the thin dough; it’s forgiving, I suppose. The more thin flaps and folds, the more texture in the final product.

Above: Griddled roti. Maybe a little scorched in spots.

It’s not ad big and stretchy and flaky and golden as the real thing, but it’s very nice. And served with dal, it’s a meal.

Above: The flakiest one!