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.
- 300 grams (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.