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.
This recipe comes from Malaysian cooking instructor Rohani Jelani and was prepared at her beautiful cooking school, Bayan Indah Culinary Retreat outside Kuala Lumpur.
300g (about 2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
3 ounces coconut milk
2 cups water, divided
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons light vegetable oil
Oil for greasing
Sift flour, salt and turmeric into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix coconut milk and about a third of the water. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Pour in coconut milk mixture, eggs, another third of the water, and oil. Using a wooden spoon, gradually incorporate flour into the liquid to make a smooth, thick batter free from lumps. Do not over-mix.
Stir in remaining water. Strain batter through a fine sieve to remove any lumps. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rest for 20-30 minutes.
Heat a heavy iron griddle or non-stick pan over medium heat and brush surface lightly with oil.
Stir batter. Dip roti jala mould into it, filling it about half-full. Moving in steady concentric circles, form fine, lacy pancakes.
Once roti jala is lightly colored, remove using a spatula and place, top-side down, on a plate. (There is no need to cook both sides.) Fold into wedges or form into small neat rolls.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 2g||3%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||4%|
|Total Carbohydrate 8g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|