What is roti canai?
Roti canai (a.k.a. “flying bread” or “roti prata” in Singapore) is a popular Malaysian flatbread served warm and has a crispy, yet chewy texture. It is typically served with a savory curry dipping sauce. Variations include either savory ingredients (e.g. eggs, sardines and onions) or sweet ingredients (e.g. bananas, condensed milk, peanut butter, jam and nutella).
This Indian-influenced Malay food was supposedly introduced to the Malay peoples by Indian Muslims and is usually Halal. “Roti” is derived from the Sanskrit word rotika meaning “bread.” It is a staple flatbread in India (similar to naan, but thinner and made with whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour). The Malay word “canai” translates to: “stretching or pushing something pliable or elastic.”
Where can I get it?
Roti canai can often be found in Malaysian or Thai restaurants. Here are a handful of spots that serve this satisfyingly flaky pancake-like bread.
Anaheim, CA: Seasons Kitchen USA
New York, NY: Nyonya
San Francisco Bay Area (Millbrae, CA): Ipoh Garden
Looking for more places that serve roti canai? You can find them on Glutto right here.
How can I make it?
Roti canai only takes a few ingredients to make. However, it does take a bit of skill (and time) to make it properly. Follow this authentic recipe for the best results.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- curry (your preference from your local Malaysian, Thai, or Indian restaurant)
- First, combine the salt with water and mix well.
- Put the flour in a bowl and slowly pour in the salt and water mix. Mix until it becomes a dough and knead to a smooth texture (not tacky).
- Rub hands with vegetable oil (to prevent sticking) and shape the dough into baseball-sized balls. Then, in a large bowl add vegetable oil and carefully place the balls so they are coated with the oil. Cover with a plastic wrap and leave over night.
- Remove the oil-coated balls one at a time and flatten on an oiled surface to a plate-sized shape. Then, flip it like this.
- On a greased pan, cook the roti canai until golden brown.
- Serve with curry and enjoy!
Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes the articles for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to feed the hungry.