What Is Roti Canai?
Roti canai if translated directly from Malay language would be “Flattened bread”. Roti is bread. Canai is flattened or more accurately is the method of throwing the bread dough in the air in a spinning motion, intending to get thinner and bigger flat dough.
Roti canai is a very well-known dish in my home country Malaysia. It’s a flatbread with influences from India. It’s usually sold in Mamak restaurants and eaten with dhal curry. You can also have it with fish curry and sambal or with any of these curry recipes:
Roti Canai And Us
In my whole life back in my home country, I’ve only bought roti canai at our favorite Mamak restaurants.
When the whole family got together or when relatives came to visit, I would get up very early in the morning and go to buy 30-40 pieces of roti canai for breakfast. My nephews or nieces would tag along. And yes, we’re that many.
I remember on my 11th birthday my father asked me what I wanted, I said I wanted roti canai. And so he bought me roti canai.
Roti canai for me is not only a flatbread that I eat with dhal curry. For me, it reminds me of all those wonderful memories that I cherish of my family.
And now that I’m living here in Spain, I don’t want to lose all that. I started making my roti canai. Something that I thought I would never be able to do. But I did it. Until now.
My husband is a fan of roti canai after I introduced it to him. He just fell in love with roti canai and dhal curry. Sometimes I think he’s a bigger fan than I am.
And now for me making roti canai is nothing rare. I like to use my standing mixer to do all the kneading, just like in my amazing Lebanese flatbreads (Man'oushe za'atar). It does take quite some minutes to knead as we want the dough to be very elastic. This will make it easier to stretch later.
I don’t do the flying dough method. No, nope. I simply stretch the dough on my kitchen top until it’s transparent and thin. Then I would make it into a round or square shape. In the video below you can see how I always do it. It’s very simple.
My husband, on the other hand, is practicing the flying dough method. Once he nails it, maybe we film it for the channel.
So if you’re living abroad and missing your roti canai, do try this recipe. Or if you’re back home and simply want to make homemade roti canai, this recipe is for you. I hope you will like the roti canai as we do.
Malaysian Flatbread (Roti Canai)
- 4 cups bread flour (520 g)
- 1 egg , room temperature
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter (40 g), melted
- 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ¼ cup water (310 ml)
- 1 teaspoon salt (not shown in video)
- In a standing mixer bowl, add in flour, salt, egg, melted butter, condensed milk and water. Mix to incorporate and knead for 10 minutes. Leave to rest for 10 minutes and knead for another 5 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 10 small balls. Coat each ball generously with unsalted butter and place them in a container that has been generously buttered. Cover the container tightly with cling film and keep in the fridge overnight.
- The next day. Spread some unsalted butter on the working surface. Take one ball and lightly flatten it. Press and push the dough with the heel of your palm to make it bigger. Stretch it as thin as possible, until you can almost see through it. Now and then spread some soften unsalted butter on it to help the stretching. Optional, lift up one edge of the dough and gently pull to stretch it even more.
- Scrape and push the upper end of the dough to the middle. Do the same to the lower end, forming a wrinkle thin log. Starting at one end of the log, roll it into a circle and tuck the other end inside. Leave aside for 10 minutes before cooking. Meanwhile you can continue with the rest of the balls.
- Once ready to cook, take one rolled circle and flatten it into more or less 10-15 cm diameter. Heat some unsalted butter on a pan using medium heat. Place the flatten dough on the pan. Cook for several minutes and then flip. Continue cooking for some minutes more.
- This is important for a fluffy roti canai. Remove the cooked roti canai and place it on a working surface. Immediately yet carefully grab it using both of your hands and squeeze it to the center. We want to fluff it. You can see this part more clear in the video above.
- Keep the roti canai under a kitchen cloth to keep them warm. They're best eaten with dhal curry or any type of curry with some sambal. Enjoy!
- If the balls are a bit difficult to spread (the next day), rest them at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
- This roti canai is with less salt because it's not intended to be eaten alone. It's usually dipped in varieties of curries. Add more salt as needed, depending on how you want to eat it.
- Using All Purpose Flour
- I've tried using all purpose flour and my verdict is; although it's not as flexible as using bread flour (due to lack of gluten developed), it is still workable. The dough also tends to break when you stretch it very thin.
- Use LESS water. I'd suggest start with 1 cup (250 ml). When kneading, look inside the standing mixer bowl, the dough shouldn't stick to the bottom or side and the bowl should be clean of dough (nothing sticks). Add flour bit by bit as needed. I ended up adding around 4-6 tablespoon (30-50 g) more.
- The dough should be soft but not sticky. Watch the video above to see the right texture.
- Substitute To Sweetened Condensed Milk
- I've tried using ½ tablespoon (10 g) honey, it works just fine.