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Roti Canai

By Zurianna

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Roti Canai or known as Roti Pratha in Southern Malaysia and Singapore is a soft and crispy flatbread. It is one of Malaysia’s famous and favourite dishes, and it is usually eaten as breakfast or supper but you can also have it anytime of the day. Roti Canai originated from Southern India and it is similar to the Indian Kerala Porotta. The word ‘roti’ means bread in Malay, Hindi, Urdu and most North Indian languages, whereas the word ‘canai’ derives from one of these theories:

a) ‘Canai’ in Malay language means ‘to roll out (dough)’.

b) Chennai is a city in India, where Indian immigrant labors are from, similar combination of porotta and dalcha/dhal (lentil curry) is found there.

c) Channa is a dish made with boiled chickpeas in spicy gravy from Northern India, however, the flatbread there is different from that in Malaysia, as is the gravy cooked with it.

In Malaysia, you can find Roti Canai mostly in mamak stalls. Its dough is made from a mixture of flour, egg, butter and water, which is kneaded, flattened and bewildering flips by hand before placing it on a hot griddle and sprinkled with some oil to fry till crispy. It is usually served with dhal (lentil curry) on the side, but you can ask for other kinds of curry, sambal or even sugar to eat it with, depends on one’s preferences.

Today, apart from the typical plain Roti Canai, mamak stalls also offer many variations of Roti Canai, such as:
- Roti Telur : Roti Canai with eggs inside.
- Roti Telur Bawang: Roti Canai with eggs and onions inside.
- Roti Tampal: Roti Canai with eggs on top.
- Roti Boom: Smaller and thicker Roti Canai, the person making it will usually clap the flatbread between their palms which produces “boom” sound, this is done to make it more crunchy and firm.
- Roti Tisu: Paper thin Roti Canai
- Roti Planta: Roti Canai with margarine and sugar inside.
- Roti Sardin: Roti Canai with sardine, eggs and onion mixture inside.
- Roti Pisang: Roti Canai with bananas inside.
- Roti Durian: Roti Canai with durian flesh inside.
- Roti Kaya: Roti Canai with kaya (coconut spread) inside.

If you are craving for some Roti Canai, you could easily find it in Malaysian mamak stalls. If you are lucky you might even find it in some finer restaurants or even the grocery shop, where frozen Roti Canai are sold and all you need to do is remove the packaging and pan fry it to enjoy!

Malaysian foods   Traditional dishes   History of food

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