Snapshots from Malaysia: How to Make Roti Jala

[Photographs: Carey Jones]

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Roti canai is probably Malaysia's more famous roti, but the lacy, crepe-like pancakes known as roti jala are even prettier—and much simpler to make. A simple batter of eggs, coconut milk, and flour is drizzled in concentric circles onto a hot pan, cooking in seconds and then folded to form a loose, netlike pancake whose nooks and crannies are ideally suited to mopping up curries and sauces.

While practiced cooks whirl out the batter with beautiful precision, it takes a few tries to get these beautiful, even circles. A few tips: keep your hand moving constantly, or the strands will be too thick; keep your hand low to the pan, lest you end up with splatters instead of smooth threads; and don't go back over your first circles, even if they don't look quite perfect—a double-dose of batter will give you pancakes that are too thick and don't have that light, lace-like texture.

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