Thursday, June 21, 2007

Chan-mali-chan Roti Canai

(right) Roti canai, lightly panfried for reheating the next morning.

Wokandspoon, who read about my craving for roti canai in Lee Ping's blog, told me about her 'third time successful' roti canai-making adventure and I was inspired to try her recipe:

Since I didn't have margarine at hand, I used butter. These were what I found in my kitchen closest to Wokandspoon's recipe:

3 cups of flour
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground raw sugar
2 tbs sweetened condensed milk (can be replaced with 1 3/4 tbs milk + 1 tsp sugar)
1 cup of water, or a bit less
2 1/2 tbs butter (or margarine)
1 1/2 tbs sunflower seed oil
extra oil for 'lubrication' and frying

Mix flour with salt and sugar in a big bowl. Add milk and stir with fork. Slowly add the water till you have 'slightly sticky' dough. Add butter and oil. Use hand to knead it into a quite smooth dough. Oil hand and divide dough into 7 or 8 balls. Oil them lightly and keep covered in the bowl. Let it rest for an hour.

Go read a book or something. Then you're ready for 'action':
Oil your hands and pat down a ball of dough on a clean oiled marble work top.
Press it as flat as possible. Then, using both hands, hold flattened dough with four fingers on top and thumb below, move your right hand up followed by left hand -- in a wavy 'S' motion.
The dough stretches. Move your hands to another part of the dough edge. Repeat S motion. Put the dough on the marble top and continue pulling and stretching it -- take care the edges are stretched thin too -- making it as big as possible. Fold the top halfway in, fold the bottom halfway up. Do the same for the sides.

Heat thick-bottomed pan to 'medium hot' and put in 3/4 tbs of oil. When oil is heated, carefully put in the folded dough. Try not to pinch any part of the folded dough into a lump. After a minute or two when the bottom is 'spotted' medium brown, hold your pan handle and flip the roti over. After 30 seconds, swing the dough around on the pan to ensure the 'new' side soaks up a bit of the oil in the pan. Remove from pan when the other side is brown too.

Serve hot with a dhal, lentil, vegetable or tangy fish curry.

For roti pisang (below), add thin slices of ripe banana 3x3 on the stretched dough before folding.

To accompany the roti, I made a vegetable curry with lentils, zucchini, mushrooms, turnip, fennel and onion.

Thank goodness, no dough flew off and got stuck on walls and ceiling. Phew!


gRaCe said...

wahhhh!! can compete with the mamak stall man la! Your roti canais looked like they were bought from the stall. Canggih betul! *salute* *salute*


WokandSpoon said...

Hey fantastic! You did a great job! I can't even "fling" my roti and had to stretch it out manually.
As for getting the sides thin, mine aren't perfect but I either flatten it with a rolling pin or once again stretch it out manually! Yummy!

Argus Lou said...

Thanks, Grace. It was hilarious picturing you saluting a couple of roti canai. But my partner said: "It's nice, almost like the real thing, but can you make the dough thinner?" Aaarrrggghhh!

Dear WokandSpoon, it was all thanks to you. Previously I did look at Amy Beh's recipe and didn't feel confident (and you proved it right). You saved me two tries, ya? I salute you!

Argus Lou said...

Hey, Wok&Spoon, my eldest sis says adding sweetened condensed milk will make the roti dough more pliable and easier to spread thinner.

And, like u said, adding more margarine or oil. Waaa... more sweet milk and fat will make this delicious and 'healthy', eh?

WokandSpoon said...

Hey Argus. Hmmm...I'm in Germany and I haven't seen condensed milk in supermarkets at all - maybe I'm not looking hard enough!

Tunku Halim said...


Sounds delicious lah. I must give it a go. But this S motion thing is hard to visualize. Can provide video or not?

Argus Lou said...

Wokandspoon, condensed milk in Germany probably comes in tubes too -- on the shelves where they have UHT milk, coffee creamers and other 'unnatural' room-temperature dairy products.

TH, I would die laughing if someone video-ed me doing the S wave with roti dough. Remember how the mamak short-order cook did it? Now just replace the head with your mug. Important thing is to get a feel for the dough and how it stretches thin.

Your hands are in front of your chest held like duck beaks, and they're going like a Mexican wave. Try it! Worse comes to worst (worse?), you just spread/stretch the dough on your kitchen countertop after slapping it flat like a pro with your palm. It's fun.

WokandSpoon said...

Hey thx for the condensed milk tip and the brownie link!

Argus Lou said...

You're most welcome, Wok&Spoon!

Lee Ping said...

Thumbs up, way up!!

Dear Argus,

I have attempted roti canai many times before and as I mentioned to WokandSpoon, I have asked one of the Grandma Blogger, Auntie Lily so many questions about roti canai that she politely suggested buying frozen roti canai to me.

So, instead of bothering Auntie Lily, I can ask you. I have no problem stretching it out real thin because I use condensed milk and patience. However, at the folding, the thin dough becomes one thick dough again. How do I ensure layering? I have tried "oiling" the dough before folding, but it turned into a big mess.

Argus Lou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Argus Lou said...

Hi Mrs HBT, I haven't perfected it either, but methinks
1) using a bit more margarine in the kneading,
2) separating into SMALLER lumps of dough before 'resting',
3) oiling a small lump of dough well before stretching,
4) having an oily worktop and oily hands,
5) using a light hand and not folding it in too deep, and
6) gently transferring (don't pinch the layers together, use a spatula if it's better!) it to a well-preheated pan
will help. All the best in your next try!

WokandSpoon said...

Hi Argus, you know what, my local supermarket is full of condensed milk! I just never noticed before!! I'll have to try making roti again with the condensed milk this time!

Argus Lou said...

Ha ha, good!
My No. 2 sister just reminded me how to serve roti canai after frying -- you have to 'karate-chop' it a few times simultaneously from the sides with both hands held palm up to loosen up the layers.
She says fish curry goes great with it, too.
Another option I remember is to cut it up into bite-size pieces.
Such a strange national food we have, eh? :)

Lee Ping said...

"3) oiling a small lump of dough well before stretching,
4) having an oily worktop and oily hands,
5) using a light hand and not folding it in too deep, and..."

I will use your tips and attempt roti canai again.

p/s I just had a thought after reading tip number 5. Indian Men who makes Roti Canai, would make great masseuse.

Argus Lou said...

Your masseuse comment is hilarious, Mrs HBT! ^_^
However, some seasoned spa-goers like massage strokes to be strong and 'deep'.
All the best in your next roti canai making session.

Lydia Teh said...

Argus, am I glad roti canai is in abundant supply here. I'd rather pay 80 sen for mine rather than sweat over it :)

Argus Lou said...

Lydia! You're back from Busyland?
Yeah, you're lucky.
But making roti canai is pretty fun and fulfilling too (not to mention filling our tums).

Lee Ping said...

Dear Argus,

I just saw another roti canai post:

You girls are so talented.

Argus Lou said...

Thank you, Mrs HBT. I went to see and was duly impressed by the delicious layers clearly seen and Kooky C's crisp photography. Left a note for her, too. She used egg -- as recommended by a Malay coffeeshop owner I once chatted with.

I found that if the dough balls are made smaller, I can fold down the top just halfway and fold up the bottom also halfway (leave the sides) -- and the whole production is thin and oh-so-crisp!

blur_mommy said...

Hi! TQ for ur kind comments!! yours looks really good too! Very thin & crispy. If I do the plain one, I try to do the karate chop too!! Palm on both sides & squish but no kungfu, most of the time, it ends up looking like a big mess!! hahaha....
Do try mine & see what u think. But adjust the water according to the flour & environment. Normally I dun use the entire 3/4 cups.

Lee Ping said...

"fold down the top just halfway and fold up the bottom also halfway (leave the sides)"

Thanks for more tips.

Argus Lou said...

Dear Blur Mommy, thanks for dropping by with your encouraging words and more tips. Truly, I haven't had the heart to karate-chop the roti kosong, not even to cut it up into small strips with a knife.

I like to slowly eat it with a fork and spoon (useful for scooping veggie curry too) a mouthful at a time -- whereas my other half likes to slosh curry gravy all over it and make it mushy. :P (makes u wonder why he wants it thinner-layered and crispy, ya?)

Will certainly try your recipe, as I usually get bored doing the same thing too many times. ^_^

Dear MrsHBT, you're most welcome. I really enjoy handling the dough, am starting to develop my own way of flinging it before setting it down on the oily worktop. ;-)

wonda said...

Hi Argus,
I'm Lee Ping's blogger friend. I've been bloghopping to look for the most successful way of making roti canai. I don't think I even "swing" the dough without it sticking to my face!

Argus Lou said...

Hi, Wonda. Thanks for dropping by. Ha ha, like you, I was worried the dough might land on the wall or stick to the ceiling. But you'll develop a feel for the dough -- you press the small ball flattish on the worktop first with oily hands before lifting it for gentle flinging, or an S wave motion.
(Just think of your hands as two duck-like spectators next to each other doing the Mexican wave at a stadium.) ;-)

wonda said...

Whenever I come back from Malaysia, I brought back 20 pieces of frozen roti canai (from a mamak stall)and I got so "jelak" of eating it.
I'll try it one day when I am free.
To be on the safe side for a destined failure like me, I better scale the amount down to half. Ok, first I try the swinging motion, then do some stretching exercises if it didn't work and last I wave goodbye to it. I always feed my food failures to my Japanese food who couldn't tell the difference. Hehe!
BTW, I am the same alice who commented in Lydia's blog.

Argus Lou said...

Aiya, Wonda Woman, the blogosphere is full of folk with multiple identities. (SexyKitten might turn out to be my mother-in-law.)

As for making roti canai, no worries. Just don't be shy about spreading the dough, especially the edges, as thin as humanly possible on the worktop. Funny how you combined the verbs into a story. :D

wonda said...

Oops, typo. But you know me lah - MCC what! I meant Japanese friends, not 'food.' Haha! Must be thinking of food so much. Japanese friend turn into food, ergo your intro. on your updated post - Japanese man eating Caucasian dinner guest, eh?

Wah! You also know my other identity?

Argus Lou said...

Wonda, you mentioned you're the Alice in Lydia's blog comments?
Ah, ja, Japanese ate Caucasian girl, now Wonda thinking of eating Japanese friend? Friend turned into food indeed! :P

wonda said...

Wonderalice, Wonda Woman, Wonderwoman, Alice, Wonda, Arisu San and err.... (sorry, you have to find out this one). After MCC yours truly accidentally left out a noun for the name of a food, some blogger friends "conspired" to name me "......... !"
We had a great banter over that.

Argus Lou said...

Wah, so cryptic one! Wait... one day I'll find out. ^_^

Davin said...

Eh, how can a roti canai made away from these fair shores of Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku (a.k.a. Bolehland) look so good!!?

Your pals are right, you really should go into the food biz. So, send us the address when you've set up shop and we'll put it on Global Malaysians or Seriously!

(Discounts for former colleagues and itinerant Malaysians a'course.)

Argus Lou said...

Ha ha. Thanks, Davin. This is born out of desperation and intense craving for Bolehland cuisine.

My old living-room

My old living-room
In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

A cherished dream

A cherished dream
To live on a pale beach by a crystal clear sea. (This was taken on the east coast of Johor state, Malaysia.)