Roti Canai

This is one of the finest dishes ever invented. Malaysian roti, is quite unlike any other bread in existence – It is rich, buttery and crisp all in one. A little like puff pastry, but much more delicious. It takes quite a bit of preparation, but it really isn’t as hard as I was led to believe. The resulting dish consists of the roti bread along with a small curry (normally chicken) for you to dip the bread into. I eat this dish at Jimmy’s Malaysian Diner in Sydney all the time. I always have to insist girl behind the counter to be less stingy with the sauce, not because she’s being particularly frugal, more the fact that it’s so delicious that I want as much as I can reasonably ask for. If I were stranded on a remote Island (preferably a Malaysian one), I would take this as my one dish to eat for the rest of my life.

For the Roti:
1½ cups plain flour
½ cup melted ghee
1 teaspoon salt

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre then gradually pour in the ghee, mixing with your hands. Pour in up to ½ cup water, enough to form the mixture into a moist dough – add more water by the tablespoon if needed. Oil your countertop with vegetable oil and then oil your hands. Knead the dough for 7 minutes until pliable. Place into a bowl and pour over about 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Cover with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 2 hours.

Make the curry when the bread is resting. (recipe directions continue after the curry directions)…

Curry ingredients:
For the Malaysian Curry Powder
4 cardamom pods
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
3 star anise
2 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 1/2 tablespoons chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the curry
1kg chicken thighs (cut into 1/3 pieces)
2 onions (roughly chopped)
8 cloves garlic (peeled & chopped)
1 heap teaspoon ginger (grated)
12-15 fresh curry leaves
5 tablespoons Malaysian curry powder
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 400g can coconut milk
2 whole star anise
2 medium potatoes (cut into 1″ dices)
1/2 small lemon (juice of)

For the curry powder:

In a dry small frying pan, toast the cardamom, fennel and star anise until aromatic. Remove and grind to a fine powder in a mortar or spice grinder. Add all the other ingredients to it and combine with 4 tablespoons water into a thick paste.

For the curry:
In a food processor or with a hand blender, blend the onion, garlic and ginger into a paste. Heat the oil a large pan over a medium temperature. Add the curry leaves and fry for 10-15 seconds. Add the onion paste and fry for 4-5 minutes until brown. Add the curry paste and gently fry for 2-3 minutes until aromatic and the oil starts to separate. Add the chicken, turn up the heat and stir for 2 minutes to coat well and lightly seal. Add the coconut milk, and 2 cups of water. Add the star anise and some salt and gently bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes, giving it a stir once in a while. Add the potatoes and simmer uncovered for a further 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Check for seasoning.

Roti Directions Continued:
When the dough has rested take off a little piece about the size of a snooker ball. Roll into a ball then flatten out. On a well oiled surface, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough as thin as you can. Pick up the dough by its edges and pull out as carefully as you can to stretch it even thinner to form a large rough rectangle. Fold the top and bottom edges inwards to the centre then fold in half again. Now fold the left side into the centre then the right and once again fold in half. You should have a rough square of bread. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Heat a lightly oiled frying pan until hot. Fry the bread for 2 minutes each side until brown and crisp.

Lastly, take the roti and quickly push the edges together towards the centre to ‘fluff up’ the bread. Serve immediately.

Serve a few pieces of roti alongside a small bowl of your curry. You will require nothing else other than complete silence to enjoy the experience properly.

%d bloggers like this: