Feb 22, 2009

::Roti Canai::


Roti canai (pronounced "chanai," not "kanai") is a type of flatbread found in Malaysia, often sold in Mamak stalls. It is known as roti pratain Singapore, and is a close descendant of Kerala porotta.

Roti means bread in HindiUrdu, most other North Indian languages, and Malay. The term "canai" derives either from:

  • Chennai, a city in India which is formerly known as Madras. Roti canai is presumed to have been introduced by immigrant labour from the Madras region where a similar combination ofparotta and dalcha - the accompanying lentil curry - is served. [1] However, the term 'roti canai' was in use prior to the city's renaming, so this point is moot.
  • "Channa", a mixture of boiled chickpeas in a spicy gravy from Northern India which was traditionally served with this dish. The roti in Northern India is different from that served in Malaysia. It is more similar to the South Indian parotta, a later variant of the Singaporean roti paratha. In addition, roti canai is served with dhal or lentils curry rather than chickpeas. Hence this is also moot.
  • 'canai' the Malay word for 'spreading out', which refers to the act of preparing the dough.

Roti canai is circular and flat. To make the proper flattened circle, the dough can be twirled into a very thin sheet and then folded into a circular shape or spread as thinly as possible before being folded. Then the folded dough is grilled with oil. The first method is more popular and faster than the second. The term 'roti paratha' in Malay mean 'plate bread'.

In English, roti canai is sometimes referred to as "flying bread," a term that evokes the process of tossing and spinning by which it is made.

The dish is composed of dough made from fateggflour and water. The fat used is usually ghee (clarified butter). Some people add sweetened condensed milk to the mix. The entire mixture is kneaded thoroughly, flattened, oiled and folded repeatedly. It is then allowed to proof and rise, and the process is repeated. The final round of preparation consists of flattening the dough ball, coating it with oil and then cooking on a flat iron skillet with a lot of oil. The ideal roti is flat, fluffy on the inside but crispy and flaky on the outside.

One of the characteristics of roti canai and its derivatives is that it can be eaten with the hands, without the need for utensils. This makes it a convenient dish to consume, while being filling. This characteristic makes it a dish of choice as breakfast or as late night supper.

Traditionally, it is served with dal or 'dhal' (lentil) curry, which in North India is prepared with chana dal. It can sometimes be taken with sugar or condensed milk. More recently, various improvements on plain roti have been devised to suit Malaysians. Generally the newer forms of roti canai are denoted by using a prefix of roti attached to the additional ingredient used. The common variations include:

  • roti telur, with fried eggs (telur being the Malay word for egg)
  • roti tisu (tissue bread), a paper thin and flaky roti. Also called roomali roti, from roomal (Hindi, meaning handkerchief).
  • roti bawang (onion bread)
  • roti boom (bomb bread), a smaller but thicker roti
  • roti planta, stuffed with margarine and sugar.
  • roti sardin, stuffed with sardine and sometimes mixed with ketchup or sambal, similar to murtabak
  • roti pisangbanana bread

Some consumers may also order their own variation, such as :

  • roti telur bawang, with eggs (telur) and onions (bawang)
  • roti kaya, with kaya
  • roti tampal, similar to roti telur but the eggs are sticked on the outside instead
  • roti tuna, stuffed with tuna
  • roti cheese, with cheese added
  • roti milo, although not common, some consumer requested that the roti is sprinkled with Milo powder

There are also a lot of different curries used besides dhal, for example :

  • kari ayam, chicken curry
  • kari daging, beef curry
  • kari kambing, mutton curry
  • kari ikan, fish curry (mostly served with [[ikan pari|stingray]])
  • kari campur, mixed curry (consumers can select a mixture of dhals themselves)

Most plain roti are round while those with fillings are square in shape due to the folding of the roti. Due to time saving concerns, the maker usually have a "stock-ready" bucket that keeps pre-made roti. These rotis are usually round in shape and will eventually become cold. Therefore, consumers might insist on a square roti to ensure they get a freshly prepared one.

Roti canai is affordable (standard price is RM0.70 a piece in Malaysia), making it extremely popular. It is also available in frozen form whereby pre-fried roti canai is processed through blastfreezing technique to ensure soft and fluffy texture upon defrosting and refrying.

Some hawkers serve fluffy and crispy roti canais by placing fried roti canai on a flat surface and with both hands give a soft clap.

Preparation of roti canai in pictures

The mixture is kneaded, flattened, and then oiled, before being folded repeatedly.

Roti canai is cooked on a flat iron skillet with a lot of oil.

Another picture of Roti Canai making