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, with the objective of getting thinner and bigger flat dough.
Roti canai is a very 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 entire life back in my home country, I’ve only bought roti canai at our favorite Mamak restaurants.
When the whole family get together or when relatives came to visit, I would get up very early in the morning and went to buy like 30-40 pieces of roti canai for breakfast. My nephews or nieces would tag along. And yes, we’re that many.
I remember in 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 own 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. 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 thin. Then I would make it into 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 nail 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 like 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.
Thank you for the recipe! My family loved it! was just wondering can we freeze the left over dough? It was too much for our family. I have 6 ball of dough left.
Hi Mia! I'd recommend you cook them first and then freeze. At least that's how I always do it. Hope it helps!
Karin Roberts says
I would like to say thank you for this recipe. I have tried it twice now and it is flawless. I spent 4 years of my early childhood in Malaysia and my favorite meal was roti canai and dhal curry. When my family moved back to the US it was devastating to me that roti canai was not readily available. I honestly think I have been able to find it only a handful of times in the last 15 years. Being able to make it at home is a luxury. Because of you, I was able to introduce one of my favorite foods to my husband and relive happy childhood memories.
Hi Karin! I'm honoured and happy to know that you're enjoying roti canai freely again. Food that comes with fond memories are the best, right? Thank you so much and take care!
Karla Ocampo says
Hi what if I added too much butter?
Hi Karla! At what point did you add too much butter?
I have lived in Malaysis/Kelantan for 3 years, and I dearly miss roti canal. Funny enough, I never had the idea to try and make it... but I shall sure give it a try tomorrow!
Really? That's awesome! I hope you have fun making it, it's not as difficult as everybody thinks it is. Dan sama-sama! 😀
Rob Lucas says
Wow!! Looks delicious. I'll be making some.
Is there any way I can make this the same day, instead of the next day?
Yes, I've tried having the dough ready and resting for 4 hours and it worked. Less flavour developed but yea, doable. Hope it helps.
Cristina Rosu says
Also just a heads up - the link to dhal curry on the page goes to a picture not a recipe. Not sure if you intended it that way.
Thank you so much for the heads up! I've corrected it 😀
Cristina Rosu says
Hi Bea. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe and the beautiful memories and back story. I'm going to give it a try today with some lentil curry 🙂
Hi Cristina! I hope you had fun making it! I just made it together with murtabak and dhal curry last Sunday. Enjoy!
Hello. I am thrilled to try your recipe. My husband and I spent 6 weeks in Kuala Lumpur in 06 of '98. This was our favourite breakfast, usually with the bananas & egg. I am living in a small community in Mexico now & bread flour is difficult to come by. I guess I'll be using a lot of elbow grease for this one. I have also just purchased salted butter. Should I omit the salt in the recipe or use a lesser amount?
Hi Tara! I'd say skip the salt since you're going to coat the balls with butter also afterwards. I've tried banana and egg roti canai and yes, they were delish! Have fun making these!
Is it better to knead by hand or handmixer with dough hooks if you don’t have a stand mixer?
Also are you supposed to leave the dough that’s been in the fridge overnight out for 10 mins before rolling it out?
Personally I don't do that. But if you find it difficult to roll out, yes leave it for a few minutes.
I'd say better knead it by hand since I find handmixer with dough hooks don't really knead that good.
Do I need to use condense milk? Can I use cream instead?
How much can I use if cream is allowed?
Hi Sandra! Please refer to my substitute of condensed milk in the recipe card above, thanks!
Hi! Can I use all purpose flour instead of bread flour? What would be the difference? Will it be on the texture?
Sorry, I jumped right into to the ingredients and recipe. The answer is already there. Thanks!
Great! Have fun making it 😊!
Hi Bae, may I know can I keep them in the freezer after shaping them?
And how to prevent them sticking to each other if I were to keep them in the freezer please.
Hi Samantha. I'd recommend you to freeze them already cooked. Wrap them individually with cling film and just place in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature and reheat in a pan (few minutes in the oven works also). Hope it helps.
Betty Ellis says
I made this today having refrigerated the dough over night. I enjoyed the challenge of making it and found it not difficult. I did forget to butter the dough at first as I stretched it out and found it easier when I did. I have yet to learn to get the dough paper thin.
Unfortunately I ate for of the flat bread while making them.
They were so very very delicious.
Haha! Yes they're very tempting to just look at, right? I'm happy that you find it fun and not difficult to do. Thank you Betty!
Hi Bea, I don't hv condensed milk. Can I substitute with just 1% low fat milk. That's just about what I have 😜 I am in the wilderness in my cottage in Canada! Can't wait to try making roti canai. Thanks!
Hi Lil! Just use honey or some sugar. Roti canai in the wilderness, I love it! Have fun!
Nina radzlan says
I just come accross your roti canai recipe. Thanks for sharing. Your instructions is very clear. I believe i can do it (?) During this Movement Control Order (MCO) this is one of my aciviities, aside Working From Home tasks. I hope i'll be able to do it this weekend. Wish me luck. Thanks again
Of course you can, Nina 😀 ! Good luck, let me know how it goes!
Thank you for this recipe, it is so clear instructions and easy to follow.
My son love it.
Awesome! I'm happy to know that, thank you Jeri!
Tried and it tasted delicious. We’re in movement control order now and my daughter who missed it was happy with what I made. Thanks for the video. Made it all clear. I do have some difficulty to get it flattened before frying. Any reason for that?
Hi Angie! Try resting the twisted balls for 10 minutes to relax them, then flatten them. It'll be easier. I'm happy to know that your daughter loved it, thank you!
Loved the recipe. Just a point to note though...'canai' actually means flattening the dough..
Hope i didn't come across sounding rude. Thanks again for the recipe...
Ok noted! Have rectified the post accordingly. Thank you!
After watching and researching so many websites and videos on making roti canai, I decided to use yours for its simplicity to understand.
I have made my dough and they’re resting at the moment. Can’t wait till dinner tomorrow.
In my excitement whilst making the dough, I actually added the water to the dry ingredients from the beginning instead of gradually adding it in. As a result, my dough was still sticky after the 10-10-5 minutes method. I decided to gradually add more for as I used the standing mixer to knead it. It was set to knead at probably speed 2/3. Do you think my sticky dough is due to the swing of water at the beginning or due to the speed of the mixer? I don’t believe the recipe stated a l kneading speed to use. I also used bread flour that’s from a bakery. So what could have gone wrong? I did save it in the end. Fingers crossed tomorrow.
Wee Mee says
Hello, so we had the roti for dinner, it wasn’t bad for the first try. I managed to stretch it out a lot till transparent but when I tried it, it was not as thin as I’d expected. Anyhow the family liked it. Thank you.
I am in the UK and the kids love roti. Is there a possibility of substituting the condense milk for sugar? I can't get it at the moment due to the current situation.
Hi Debbie! Yes of course, no problem. Have fun making the roti!
Chooi Si says
Thanks for sharing the recipe! I’m living in Melbourne and roti canai is expensive here. It’s been great having homemade roti 🙂
Tried it a couple of times and found that room temperature dough works much better in stretching, therefore requiring some time out of the fridge before frying.
My roti however turned out more chewy / doughy rather than the desired light and fluffy. I kneaded it like crazy too!
Could it be my kneading technique or temperature of frying/amount of oil? Or perhaps temperature of tap water not being warm enough? Getting real technical here!
Hi Chooi! Yes it’s always great to be able to make our own roti Canai at home (in my case since I haven’t seen any cafés or restaurants selling any 🤣.) Sorry to hear about your dough. Maybe it’s because of the water? I don’t use warm water that’s why I didn’t specify it (warm water) in both the video and recipe card. Also try stretch it as thin as you can (till transparent). As for the kneading goes, the dough shouldn’t break when you start pulling it. It should feel very elastic and on the soft side. Let me know how it goes if you make it again next time. Hope it helps 😊.
Is there a way to make half of this recipe?
Hi Michelle! What you can do is weigh the egg (large), whisk it a bit and then just use half amount. That's how I do it when I make recipe testings with half egg. Hope it helps.
Hi, Bea. Thanks for the great video and recipe. I tried it and mine turned out to be flaky and crumble apart after it's cook and when I use both hands to "clap it together". I knead it by hand. Is it because I didn't knead long enough. Also I used regular flour and rest it for 6 hours. Appreciate your response. Thanks
Hi Dennis! All purpose flour doesn't have high protein content like bread flour (which needed to form gluten and give structure and chewiness to the bread). If you don't have bread flour now (I know it's difficult to get it these days), try kneading it until you get a smooth surface and when you press your finger on it, it makes a dent and then bounce back. Hope it helps, and thank you!
Thanks for the prompt response. I will try it as suggested. By the way, what speed did you use for your mixer?
No problem! For my Kitchenaid, I always use speed 1 to incorporate ingredients and then change to speed 2 for kneading 🙂
Scott and Jenny says
Best tutorial video and recipe ever!!!
Thanks to you now I can make roti canai at home. We loved it so much when we spent 1 month in Malaysia for vacation. God bless!!!
Oh that's awesome! Yes, roti canai is one of the delicious food in Malaysia. Thank you! XOXO
Hi - I am trying this recipe for the first time. Can I do it without milk? I don’t have that type of milk at home.. 🙂
Cyd Larkin says
I am anxious to make this bread; but I have a question. Condensed milk? It looks like sweetened condensed milk, or is it very thick evaporated milk? The only condensed milk we have in the States is sweetened condensed milk.: is that what I should use?
Yes it is sweetened condensed milk, let me know how it goes 😊
Hola Bea y Marco!
Gracias por la receta! Reminds our days when we were living in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
If i may ask, where are you from in Malaysia? Im from Indonesia & my wife is Spanish. We met in while we working in Malaysia.
Hola Alvrie! De nada, espero que te guste! I'm from Pahang. And where are you both from in Indonesia and Spain?
Nathan M. says
I made this roti and your murtabak. They came out delicious. Thank you for putting very detail video for the process of making it.
Oh that's great! I'm happy to know you find it very useful. Thank you Nathan!
Found this recipe on Pinterest. Trust it tastes as good as it looks. Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe. Watching the video really helped. Everyone in my family loved it as well!!
Oh I'm so excited to hear that, Heather! I'm happy that everybody loved it, thank you so much!
Dian Yuanti says
Thank you for the recipe.. this was my first time for making roti canai by myself.. my Jani really love it!! Sy suka... ❤❤
Awesome, thanks Dian! XO
Thank you for sharing the recipe.
My son is sensitive to egg ingredients (allergies).. Is there a way to make this recipe without eggs?
I haven't tried it without egg, sorry though!
Thank you very much, it was well worth the effort! The grandchildren enjoyed it
That's awesome to know, thank you so much!
you say " condensed milk". is this condensed milk such as carnation condensed, or is sweetened condensed milk such as eaglebrand condensed milk? one is sweet, and the other is not. one is thicker, and the other thinner.
It's sweetened condensed milk, the thicker one. Hope it helps.
i was making this recipe when i realised that i have too much dough. is it okay to leave the leftover dough in the freezer to use another time? if yes, how long do you think it would be okay in the freezer?
Hi Jade! I would recommend you making and cooking all of them. Then freeze them individually wrapped in cling film, in ziploc bag. Hope it helps.
we loved the thousand layer bread we had at wonderful malaysian restaunrant called rangoon am excited to try to make an all orgnaic version at home !
can i substitute the condensed milk with something else if cant find orgnaic one?thank you !
I’ve just spent two years in Malaysia and miss the roti canal soooo much! I’m excited to try it and I’m wondering if you might have a recipe for the gravy or Dahl we used to dip it in, was bright orange and we always had the chicken one, quite a thin texture.
Would very much appreciate it if you did!
Yea? I'm excited to hear that 🙂 . And yes, I do have the dhal recipe, it's here. The dhal freezes really good (I do it all the time). Have fun making both, thank you Bek!
Is that sweetened condensed milk?
Yes it is.
Michelle D. says
Hi. Is it necessary to use condensed milk or can I use regular fresh milk?
Hi! Just use 1/2 of sugar instead. Hope it helps.
So glad I came across your blog. I am a Malaysian living in California who loves roti canal too. Now I can try your recipe.
Thank you so much for sharing.
Hi Eileen, it's always nice to see a fellow Malaysian here. Hope you'll give this roti canai a try, it's one of our favourites. Thanks!
Hi, l like roti canai but never make it before, your recipe very clear and detail, l would try to make it,
can l use whole meal flour mix with bread flour 50-50
Hi Intan, honestly I've never tried using whole meal flour with roti canai. I would think that it's doable but perhaps it would come out a bit denser (like any other whole meal flour breads). I'm not sure about the elasticity also (when stretching). Sorry though!
Hi Bea thanks for your answer, that help me, so l not waste my time, try to make it with whole meal flour.
Will follow the instructions in your recipe and get my canai craving satisfied.
No problem, have fun making the roti canai! 🙂
NORMAN RAILEYS says
THE BEST ROTI CANAI EVER!
With your very clear instructions video, I managed to make roti Canai with success. Butter really makes a difference in the taste. Delicious!
That's great, Norman! I'm happy to know that you find the video useful since yes, making roti canai does require a few steps to it. Thank you so much!
I have seen Indians flattening the dough in a different way, fascinating. my best is just folding it into square. nevertheless, this roti canai is as delicious as i remembered when i had it. like always, thank you.
So you've had roti canai before? Awesome! Yes, I'm the same also, am not a pro trained Mamak that can toss the dough in the air 😀 . I'm so happy that you made the roti canai and loved it. Thank you so much Paul!
Foon Lam says
Thanks for sharing the stretching method Bea. I've always wanted to make roti canai but was always put off coz I used to always tear the dough when I try to canai it. Now that I see stretching the dough the way you showed it also gives almost the same thiness, I am definitely going to try it. I love roti canai. I eat it for breakfast at the mamak stall every day when I am lucky enough to visit Malaysia.
Hi Foon! I'm not a pro trained mamak to be doing the flying canai method 😀 but yes this method works as great also. If the dough tears here and there, no worries, it's fine since we will be folding it anyway. I'm excited to know another roti canai lover and that you've been to Malaysia. Thanks Foon!
Victoria Emberton says
Thank you so much. Brilliant recipe and Video
Victoria from Shropshire U.K.
Long, long time since I made these and I lost my favourite recipe. Took me ages to find one that looked a lot like it. Thank you so much for posting it. Yum. My three daughters loved it. I am now a very popular mama. And they have also learned that when the budget is a little tighter, you don't need to miss out, you just need to roll your sleeves up and be a little more resourceful. Now I can't wait to try your dhal curry recipe. Also looking forward to seeing your husband's video. Please encourage him.
Thanks and regards from New Zealand.
Hi Helena, I'm happy that you and your daughters loved it 🙂 . I agree, with a bit of effort we can eat as good or even better than going to fancy places. Hope you'll like the dhal curry also. Marco is down with flu since last week, he's hoping to get better soon to continue editing the videos 😀 Thank you so much Helena!
Paula Destacamento says
Hi! I'm Pola from the Philippines. My mom and I enjoy roti so much but it's a little expensive here so I wanna try making them and your recipe looks so promising. My question-- Is overnight cooling required? Or can I shape and cook them right away? Thanks in advance!
Hi Paula! Leaving the dough overnight will develop the flavours and also help make it flexible and easier to work with. Personally I wouldn't shape them right away. Hope it helps 🙂
Hai Bae, i'm from Indonesia, got stumbled upon your canai recipe at about 6 months ago. Your recipe is the best one i tried, never fails, all credits to you. Unsalted butter is expensive in Indonesia, i replaced it with margarine, of course it gives that salty taste to it, it's ok though, but can i substitute the butter with flavorless vegetable oil instead?
Huge thanks for SHARING this great recipe (some people would keep it to themselves)
Hi Farah, I'm excited to know that you've tried the recipe and liked it 😉 Butter gives the roti canai that buttery taste but yes, you can use flavourless vegetable oil instead. Thank you so much for your kind words and for the love! 🙂
good job. may god bless u for sharing this recipe. tasty...sedap sangat.
Hi Mira! I always make it whenever we have cravings for roti canai. Makan bersama kuah kari, memang sedap 😀 😀 😀 Terima kasih Mira!
Thanks for the awesome recipe can’t wait to try it! Do you only recommend using bread flour? I have wheat flour and was wondering if it would still come out the same.
Hi Bianca! Yes I'd recommend bread flour for the structure and texture. You can still use all purpose flour but it wouldn't be the same though. Hope it helps 🙂
Micheal Chan says
Hello! Thank you for your recipe. I could stretch the dough without breaking it after several attempts lol! Keep up the good work.
Haha! Well that's the fun part, right? The dough is very flexible, you will be a pro in no time 😀 Thank you Micheal!
Victoria Emberton says
Thank you so much. Brilliant recipe and Video
Victoria from Shropshire U.K.
Victoria Emberton says
Can I freeze the dough till I need it?
Hi Victoria! Honestly I haven't tried freezing the dough so I can't really say if it would work good or no. I do freeze the cooked roti canai all the time though. I wrap them individually in cling film and put them in ziplock bag and into the freezer. I thaw the roti canai at room temperature and then I either heat it in microwave or in a pan to bring it back to life. Hope it helps. Thank you so much Victoria!
Thank you Victoria, I'm happy to know that you enjoy it!
Victoria Emberton says
Thank you for getting back to me with your good advice. I will try one of each for freezing and get back to you with my results
Goodness you make roti canal? I want to make also this weekend. I tell you later. Thank you. Can I use normal flour. Tepung gandum.
Haha! What to do, no gerai mamak here to buy murtabak or roti canai 😀 . I would recommend you to use bread flour since it has a higher protein content and will help in gluten development with all the kneading in this recipe. The dough will be more flexible and senang nak canai.
Thank you for this recipe. I made this recipe last weekend and enjoyed the delicious roti canai with some friends. We felt like in Malaysia. Thank you again for sharing. Next try murtabak. May God bless you.
Hey I'm excited to know that you've tried and liked it! Yes, I agree. Having a piece of hot roti canai with some dhal curry really reminds of home. Hope you'll like the murtabak also. Thanks for the love Rusdi!
Bernadette Kueh says
I would like to try the dhall curry but can't find the recipe. The link in this page just leads to a tempting picture.
Can you share the recipe?
I stay in France wat flour can i use to make my roti prata
She Chin Lee says
Hi El Mundo,
Thanks for your recipe.
I tried another recipe with bread maker, is your recipe works ok if I put it in the bread maker?
Also have you tried to use Ghee instead of butter?
El Mundo Eats says
Hi She Chin! I don't own a bread maker so I'm afraid I can't really say if it's ok or not to use it since I'm not familiar with the machine. I'm sorry. I'm using butter as it's easier to find in my place so no, I haven't tried using ghee. Hope this helps. - Bea 🙂
Hi, you used butter in this recipe. Do you recommend vegetable oil too?
El Mundo Eats says
Hi Yan! Yes you can use vegetable oil but butter gives the roti canai that extra wonderful taste. I've used vegetable oil before but personally I would stick to butter. Hope this helps. Thanks for leaving a comment here Yan!
hi! great receipe thanks! can they be kept for 2 days? i didnt use all of them.
El Mundo Eats says
Hi Jojo! I'm assuming you're referring to the cooked roti canai? Yes, they can. Keep in a tight container in a fridge. Heat them a bit to get that fresh taste again. They're also good to be frozen. Thank you for trying my recipe, I'm happy to know you liked them!
Sekut Gelpu says
Can i use all purpose flour?
El Mundo Eats says
Hi Sekut! The difference between all purpose flour and bread flour is the protein level. Bread flour has a higher level of protein that helps with gluten development, which what we are looking for in this recipe, with all the kneading. You can use all purpose flour but I would not recommend it. I hope this helps. Thank you!
Rene’e Yonnetti says
Looks absolutely amazing, thank for sharing your special recipe, just wondering, do I used sweetened condensed milk or regular? Rene’e
Use sweetened condensed milk 🙂