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 articles & posts 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 charities that fight world hunger.