Roti canai

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Roti canai
Roti canai
Alternative names Roti Cane/Roti Parotta
Type Flatbread
Place of origin Malaysia
Region or state Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia,[1] Singapore, Thailand
Created by Malaysian Indians
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients Flour
Variations Paratha
  • Cookbook: Roti canai
  •   Media: Roti canai

Roti canai (pronunciation: /tʃanai/), also known as roti cane (/tʃane/) or roti parotta, is an Indian-influenced flatbread dish found in several countries in Asia, including Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore. It is usually served with dal or other types of curry, but can also be cooked in a range of sweet or savoury variations made with a variety of ingredients such as sardines, meat, egg, or cheese.[2]

Roti canai is a popular breakfast and snack dish in Malaysia, and one of the most famous examples of Malaysian Indian cuisine.[3] It is said that the dish was brought over from India by Indian Muslims, also known as "Mamaks" in Malaysia, and is served in mamak stalls located in both rural and urban Malaysia.[4][5]

It is considered as a variation of parotta but it does not exist in India. The closest kin to roti canai is believed to be Malabar parotta.


Roti means bread in Sanskrit, and most other Indian languages.[2] Canai has a disputed origin: it may be derived from Chennai, the Indian city formerly known as Madras;[6] from the same Malay word canai, meaning "to roll out dough";[7] or from channa, a Northern Indian dish made with boiled chickpeas in a spicy gravy, with which this type of bread was traditionally served.[8]

In Southern Malaysia and in Singapore the dish is known as roti prata, similarly to the Indian paratha or parotta.[9] The Hindi word paratha means "flat".[10][11]


Roti canai is made from dough which is usually composed of fat (usually ghee), flour and water; some recipes also include sweetened condensed milk. The dough is repeatedly kneaded, flattened, oiled, and folded before proofing, creating layers. The dough ball is then flattened, spread out until paper thin (usually by "tossing" it on a flat surface), and gathered into a long rope-like mass. This "rope" is then wound into a knot or spiral and flattened, so that it consists of thin flakes of dough when cooked.

Roti canai served with mutton curry in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra.

Up until the 1970s, it was common for cooks to form a spiral with the "rope" (much like the modern "roti bom"), but this is no longer the case, probably because the amount of dough used per roti is about half of what it used to be. When making varieties with fillings, however, the fillings (eggs, chopped onions, etc.) are spread or sprinkled on the thin sheet of dough, which is then folded with the fillings inside.

Roti canai with two curries on a stainless steel thali.

Regional variations


Plain roti is often referred to as roti kosong ("empty bread" in Malay). Roti canai is inexpensive in Malaysia (a standard price is RM1.20 per piece).[12]

Traditionally, roti canai is served with dal (lentil) curry. It may also be served with the following curries:

  • Kari ayam, chicken curry
  • Kari daging, beef curry
  • Kari kambing, mutton curry
  • Kari ikan, fish curry (mostly served with ikan pari)
  • Kari campur, mixed curry
  • Kari kacang kuda, a chickpea curry

Different varieties of roti canai served in Malaysia are listed below:

  • Murtabak, a very thick roti filled with a mixture of egg, meat, onions and spices. In Malaysia and Singapore it is usually prepared on a griddle like roti canai, but in Indonesia, it is often deep fried in a wok and very oily. In Thailand, it is called "Mataba". In Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand murtabak is made using the same dough used to make roti canai, and on the same equipment in the same shops.
  • Roti telur, with an egg (telur).
  • Roti jantan, roti telur with an extra egg.
  • Roti bawang, with onions (bawang).
  • Roti telur bawang, with eggs (telur) and onions (bawang).
  • Roti boom (or bom) (bomb bread), a smaller but thicker roti, with the dough wound in a spiral. Often served sweet, with sugar, and with margarine.
  • Roti planta, stuffed with margarine (often Planta Margarine) and sugar.
  • Roti sardin, stuffed with canned sardine and sometimes mixed with ketchup or sambal, similar to murtabak
  • Roti pisang, stuffed with sliced bananas.
  • Roti sayur. stuffed with shredded or sliced vegetables.
  • Roti salad, raw shredded vegetables rolled up with a piece of roti.
  • Roti tisu, a tissue paper-thin and flaky roti. Also called roomali roti, from roomal (Hindi, meaning handkerchief).
  • Roti kaya, with kaya spread.
  • Roti tampal or Roti plaster (in Singapore), similar to roti telur but the eggs are served on the outside of the roti
  • Roti maggi, stuffed with prepared instant noodles, usually Maggi Brand.
  • Roti cheese, with cheese added
  • Roti milo, with Milo powder
  • Roti cobra, a roti served with curry chicken and piece of fried egg on top.
  • Roti banjir ("flooded roti"), with lots of curry poured over the top.
  • Roti tsunami ("extremely flooded roti"), with curry poured over the top.
  • Roti durian, with durian fruit.


Roti Cane served with mutton and potato curry in Aceh restaurant.

In Indonesia, roti canai is also called roti cane, roti konde or roti maryam,[1] and is usually served with kari kambing (mutton curry).[13] Roti cane came into Indonesia via the influx of Muslim Indian migration to Aceh Sultanate in Northern parts of Sumatra circa 17th century, and later to the rest of Dutch East Indies in early 19th century.[13] Roti canai is more prevalent in Sumatra, especially in Aceh, North and West Sumatra. Roti cane has been adopted by the Malay cuisine of Sumatra, Aceh cuisine, and Minangkabau cuisine. Consequently, there are Malay, Aceh, and Minangkabau restaurants that serve roti canai with mutton curry in Indonesia that are operated by ethnic groups other than Indians. This Indian-origin dish has been so well-integrated into Aceh cuisine that it is considered their own.[13]

In Ampel, an Arab quarter in Surabaya, it is known as roti maryam, while common Javanese called it roti konde after its similar shape to a hairbun (Javanese: konde). Despite having different names, their recipes are quite similar, and they are influenced by Indian paratha.[1]


Roti prata
Roti Prata Curry Large.JPG
Plain roti prata (left) and egg prata (centre), with a bowl of chicken curry on the side
Alternative names prata
Type Pancake
Region or state Singapore
  • Cookbook: Roti prata
  •   Media: Roti prata
Roti prata being prepared.

Roti prata is a fried flatbread that is cooked over a flat grill. It is usually served with a vegetable- or meat-based curry and is also commonly cooked with cheese, onions, bananas, red beans, chocolate, mushrooms or eggs. Roti prata is prepared by flipping the dough into a large thin layer before folding the outside edges inwards. The dough is cooked on a flat round iron pan measuring about three feet in diameter. The cooking process lasts two to three minutes. Many of the roti canai variations found in Malaysia are also popular in Singapore.


Roti thitchu served with a Thai-Muslim style beef curry.

In Thailand, roti (with variations on spelling such as ro tee) is commonly sold from street carts, usually by Muslims, and is usually Halal. Roti thitchu (Thai for "tissue") is Thai roti canai that is fluffed up by clapping it between two hands inside a dry cloth after frying, served with a Thai-Muslim style beef curry.

Unlike in Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia, variations in Thailand tend towards the sweet rather than the spicy or savory. Popular variations include mango, banana, sugar, condensed milk, jam, peanut butter and Nutella roti, although egg roti (often with sweetened condensed milk spread over the top) is also available. Some stalls sell mataba (the equivalent of the Malaysian murtabak), though this is usually found in restaurants that sell Indian Muslim food such as biryani rice rather than at roti stalls.


See also


  1. ^ a b c "Roti Maryam/Konde/Cane/Canai". Indonesia Eats.
  2. ^ a b "Roti canai, a popular snack | The Star Online". Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  3. ^ Krich, John (2009-07-31). "Roti Canai". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  4. ^ "Malaysia's 5 mamak stall favorites | CNN Travel". Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  5. ^ "The 10 types of roti you'll find at the mamak". Time Out Kuala Lumpur. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  6. ^ "Roti Canai: A Favourite Of Many". 2015-11-26. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  7. ^ "Kuala Lumpur: Roti Canai - TripAdvisor". Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  8. ^ Wijnen, Ben van. "Roti Canai (Malay Recipe)". Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  9. ^ Koh, Aun. "Roti Prata - Words Without Borders". Words Without Borders. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  10. ^ Koh, Aun. "Roti Prata - Words Without Borders". Words Without Borders. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  11. ^ "Roti Prata". Retrieved 2018-04-16.
  12. ^ Krich, John (31 July 2009). "Roti Canai".
  13. ^ a b c Ni Luh Made Pertiwi F (2 April 2013). "Roti Cane dan Kari Kambing, Pasangan Sejati Nan Lezat" (in Indonesian). Retrieved 23 July 2014.

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