Sunday, December 2, 2012

Malaysian Roti Canai & Dhall Curry

I've always wanted to learn how to make Roti Canai. My last attempt over 20 years ago was a disaster, and since then I've felt sure that the Art of Tossing Roti was beyond the reach of mere mortals.

Actually... roti canai is totally doable! And there's no reason why you can't make it yourself at home. Healthier too!

Fluffy, light roti that is soft inside and crispy outside. Bottom left: dough balls generously oiled and rested, ready
to shape and flip; Flipped roti that is paper thin; The delicious end product.

The basic roti canai recipe has only three ingredients - flour, salt and water. Oil, margarine or ghee are used to oil the dough mixture. Variations of this recipe include condensed milk, eggs and/or sugar. Here's my favorite recipe for roti canai, followed by a recipe for a simple dhall curry. I prefer high gluten flour as this gives a more pliable dough, but all purpose flour is more readily available and will do the job. I like to add egg to the roti dough mixture to increase the protein content. I use a Kitchenaid mixer to do the kneading, but it's just as easy by hand.

Ingredients for Roti Canai
Makes 4-5 roti
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup water (approximately)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (approximately)
  1. With the dough hook attachment on low speed, mix the flour and salt in the mixing bowl. 
  2. Add the egg, and most of the water, mixing on low speed. Continue adding water until the dough holds together in a soft ball, but not sticky. If it gets sticky, add a little flour. Knead for 5 minutes.
  3. Portion the dough into small plum-sized balls, one-by-one. As each ball is formed, generously slather with oil and place in a bowl. The coat of oil will keep the dough balls separate while the dough rests.
  4. Rest the dough balls for at least 4 hours, or overnight in the fridge (take out of the fridge an hour before shaping).
  5. Flipping or Tossing the Roti: The best video tutorial on this technique is found at Lesley Tan's video blog and I suggest you practice a couple of times with a hanky first. 
  6. Preheat your largest flat pan on low heat before starting to shape and flip the roti. 
  7. Oil your hands and the work surface before picking up a dough ball. Use your palms to flatten the dough ball into a round disk. Flip and fold the roti as shown in the video. 
  8. Drizzle some oil on the pan, then drop the folded roti onto the pan. Cook about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. 
  9. Serve with dhall curry (recipe below).

Ingredients for Dhall Curry
Yellow dhall

1 cup yellow dhall (also known as chana dhall / dal / dhal)
1 stick cinnamon*
1 knob ginger, sliced
1 star anise*
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard seed*
About 5 sprigs of curry leaves (30 leaves)
1 tomato, cut into 8 wedges*
1 potato, cubed*
1 small eggplant*, cut into wedges
Salt to taste
  1. Rinse the dhall a few times. Add enough water to cover the dhall, then soak the dhall for four hours or overnight. 
  2. Add the cinnamon, ginger, garlic, star anise, tumeric, mustard seed and curry leaves to the soaked dhall. Boil the dhall for 30 minutes until tender. Skim off any foam that forms.
  3. Add the potato and cook for another 20 minutes.
  4. Add the eggplant and tomato and cook for another 15 minutes until tender.
  5. Add salt to taste and serve with roti canai.
I hope you have fun flipping roti canai! Let me know how it goes! :)