Hooked on roti canai
Roti canai aka roti paratha
It's always exciting to see your food prepared before your eyes and then to eat it the way it's meant be eaten. But after watching numerous culinary shows and live cooking demos you may probably say, "so what's the difference?" Well, the difference is in the preparation. Not only are the ingredients unique but so is the manner in which they are prepared which employs both culinary skills and a bit of showmanship, which of course can be exaggerated to suit the situation.
The food referred to here is not something that's served only in fine restaurants even though it is, but one that is very common in small eateries and even stalls. It's called Roti Canai aka Roti Paratha and it has become a very popular food in Malaysia.
Having it's roots in India it's not surprising that most if not all Roti Canai vendors are Indians. However, customers come from all walks of Malaysian life - students, office workers, laborers, singers, politicians - you name it, they all love it. Roti canai is most suitable for breakfast just as it is suitable for lunch and dinner.
It's made from flour dough mixed with ghee - made elastic after a lengthy beating - which is stretched almost paper-thin and nearly transparent. The stretching is where the artistic part comes in. The experienced roti canai maker first slaps the dough down repeatedly sometimes with a distinct rythym, picks it up and waves and spins it in mid-air with an agility that could amaze even the greatest juggler. Some maker incorporates dancing into the waving action which makes for a good entertainment for diners. The waving and spinning action causes the dough to thin and widen to about the diameter of a medium-size umbrella.
The stretched dough is then folded and grilled until the outer layer is brown and flaky. Some like their roti canai crispy on the outside.
Roti canai is most usually eaten with curry which itself comes in different varieties, and dahl (chickpeas stewed Indian sytle). Filings can also be requested. Most popular are sardines, eggs and margarine. But today most roti canai vendors improvise on their art, giving diners more options on the fillings.
The different versions of roti canai
Roti Canai or Roti Kosong
Roti Sardine Special
Roti with sardine filling
A smaller, thicker but oilier roti.
Roti with banana and sugar filling.
Roti with generous margarine filling.
Roti with chicken or stewed beef filling.
Roti with sugar.
Roti with shredded cheese filing.
How to make roti canai
Teh tarik (pulled tea)
Eating roti canai is never complete without an accompanying drink and the drink most suitable is teh tarik, a thick, sweet milky tea. Teh tarik litterally means pulled tea. It is prepared by pouring the tea from one cup to another repeatedly until it becomes frothy. The distance between the two cups is limited only by the length of the tea man's arms, and again showmanship is incorporated into the preparation. Some tea tarik pullers do stunts like pouring the tea behind their backs or dancing to imaginary music.
The usual and best way to eat roti canai is with the hands. Forks and spoons are always prepared but are quite useless when tearing the elastic bread.Tear off a bite-size chunk, dip it in the curry sauce and stuff in in your mouth. After you've savoured the unique taste of roti and curry it's time for a chaser - the extremely sweet teh tarik.
The different versions of teh tarik
The "O" is the letter O but it actually means zero. This is tea with no milk.
Kosong means empty. You ordered plain tea, with no sugar or milk.
Tea with honey.
Susu means milk. Be sure to indicate your choice of milk - condensed or raw pasteurised milk.
Ais means ice. You get the idea.
Tea with ginger juice.
Teh brewed with Indian spices
Teh Tongkat Ali
This is tea made from Eurycoma longifolia* known as Tongkat Ali in Malaysia. It is believed to have medicinal properties. Some Malaysians testify to Tongkat Ali having sexual enhancement properties.
How to make teh tarik video
More about Southeast Asian Food
- Gado-Gado - Uniquely Indonesian
Mention Indonesia and Bali comes to mind. But it's not only for this world famous resort that Indonesia is known for. Cultural diversity, arts and ancient traditions is another and with these comes exotic food...
This book is perfect for one who is looking for exotic foods recipes and or culinary adventures. Complete favorites Malaysian recipes such as roti canai, curry, laksa, noodles, popiah, sambal, satay, etc. Well written and illustrated with beautiful pictures, easy to follow recipes and great price.
If you like to make roti but do not have professional or restaurant grade griddle, this griddle is good alternative. Made of cast iron with good heat distribution and retention. This griddle is pre-seasoned and ready to use. Oven safe to 500 F. It's very sturdy. Great for making pancake and roti.
More by this Author
Perkedel Kentang (Indonesian potato cakes/frikadellen) Perkedel kentang (frikadel) is Indonesian adaptation of frikadellen, Ducth meat patties. Unlike Dutch frikadellen, perkedel kentang is made of mashed potatoes...
An easy and tasty Indonesian finger food or appetizer recipe.
Steamed meatball is pretty common dim sum food. It can be made of beef, chicken, fish, shrimp or squid. My kid's favorite is steamed pork balls. They are soft, wonderful and flavorful. Fixing steamed meatballs at home...