12 April 2013

Malaysia's "Flying Bread" - Roti Canai

Melaka Minaret
The cuisine of most cultures around the world can usually be defined by its simple staple dishes such as bread and Malay cooking is no different. Although a largely rice based cuisine, the flat bread Roti Canai (pronounced Chanai) is very popular and is sold with various accompanying sauces from Mamak stalls run by Tamil Muslims at almost every street corner all down the Malay peninsula, Singapore and the Indonesian archipelago where it is sometimes known as Roti Prata. It is cheap and filling and as school kids we often stopped on the way home for a quick Teh (Pronounced Tay) Tarik and several rounds of roti canai and curry sauce to tide us over until the next meal time.
Curiously like so many popular dishes in Malaysia, both the tea drink and this definitive bread are thought to have been imported by Indian immigrants. The word "Roti" means bread in Hindi and Urdu whilst "canai" in Malay has come to mean "to roll out dough" although it is thought to originate from the Chennai (Madras) region of the Indian sub continent where many migrant workers to the Malay peninsula originated. In Chinese roti canai is often referred to as "flying bread" due to the way it is tossed and spun in the air to thin out the dough similar to an expert pizza maker! There are alternative methods but undoubtedly there is more than a little skill required in getting the correct shape and texture to the dough before frying. (We suggest watching a few posts on YouTube where there are many demonstrations which show the technique well). It is usually served with curry sauce or Dhal. (See the post "Cooking with Romesh") and washed down with ice cold sugar cane juice.

Roti Canai served with curry sauce and ice cold sugar cane juice. 

Serves four

2 Cups Plain flour
2 Tsps Salt
2 Tsp Sugar
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Cooking Oil


Mix sugar and salt in the water and add to the flour little by little mixing to make a dough. Knead until soft ensuring the texture is not sticky. Oil your hands with vegetable  oil and divide dough into palm sized balls, ensure the balls are well covered with oil and leave overnight. Next day oil a kneading board and flatten each dough ball into the size of a dinner plate. Flip like a pizza a few times until spread like thin paper. Take the edges and fold into the middle creating a square envelope shape. Pan fry on a well oiled skillet until golden brown. It is customary to fluff up the cooked pastry by crushing it between your hands. Serve with curry sauce or Dhal.

Posted by incredibly fed

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