Thursday, June 09, 2005

Roti Canai with Dhall Char

This type of bread is a breakfast treat and is readily available at dawn in malaysia and it is served with dhall char. They can be served for lunch too with a more hearty accompaniment like a meat curry. The bread is usually plain but eggs or sardine can be added to make it more substantial.
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400g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
20g sugar
40g margarine
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
Oil or ghee for greasing and cooking


Put flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Rub in margarine and mix egg and the rest of the ingredients well to form a soft dough. Leave to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Divide dough into 10 pieces. Roll into balls and rub oil or margarine lightly over each ball. Keep the balls in a container and leave aside.

Grease a marble slab. Press and flatten the balls of dough with your palm on the slab. Use your fingers to make each ball very thin. Twirl the flattened dough until it becomes thin. Fold the sides to the centre.

Flatten the dough again.Place on a hot griddle and cook slowly over a low heat. Turn over dough and spread more oil when needed to brown both sides of the roti.

Recipe source:  The Kuali


300 g Chicken cut into small pieces
175g dhall, washed and soaked

3 green chillies
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
4 cups water

2 dried chillies, pounded
1.5cm piece ginger, finely diced
1 big onion, finely diced
2 sprigs curry leaves
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3 tomatoes, quartered
2 potatoes, quartered
1 1/2 cups general santan
1 cup assam jawa juice
1/2 cup pati santan
salt to taste
a pinch of Asafoetida powder(optional)


Boil dhall with (A) till soft and cooked.
Heat a deep saucepan with oil. Saute chicken pieces until they are brown. Remove from saucepan.
Saute (B). add more if necessary, until fragrant.
Add in potatoes and the sauted chicken, mix in one cup santan and bring to a boil.
Add in the cooked dhall and the rest of the santan and assam jawa juice.
Simmer till potatoes and chicken are soft.
Add the tomatoes and the pati santan. Bring to a boil and cook till gravy is thick.
Add salt and a pinch of Asafoetida powder(if using) for better fragrance and taste.



Anonymous said...

I really respect those asian living overseas. They can really cook. I myself are migrating soon, I hope I can do the same too

Unknown said...


i have found frozen roti cannai in our asian stores and they are absolutely delicious. Have bought quite a number of pkts and leave in freezer for times when you need comfort food.

I would be glad to enlighten whatever questions you have on cooking and baking the best i can.

Anonymous said...

I tried out the roti canai recipe above. The texture turned out kind of crispy like a cracker biscuit instead of chewy. I am not sure what went wrong. Thanks for your help.

Unknown said...


i am glad you tried the recipe. When the roti is crispy, it could you have fried it for too long with a little too much oil. Your liquid in the dough could be not enough to create a soft dough. Flour takes in different amount of liquid at different times of the year. There are so many types of flour in the market and you should be able to judge the softness of the dough. On the other hand, it could be too much liquid.

Anonymous said...

Your roti canai looks really wonderful. I miss them and would like to make them as I am overseas. Got some questions if you don’t mind. Should the margarine be melted when we rubbed it into flour? How long should I knead the dough for? Regarding “Fold the sides to the center”, does this mean to do a swiss roll from both ends? And “flatten the dough”, how do we do that with a long roll shape ? Do you recommend using margarine or oil in this recipe for the best texture? Sorry for asking so many questions. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

You are really an amazing chef. How did you learn all these recipes. You can open up a restaurant!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily

I ate roti canai with curry in a restaurant, is Dhall same as curry served in restaurant ?
what is santan, where can I buy it

what is jawa juice, where can I buy it

Poonam(Sunnyvle, CA, USA)

Unknown said...


i am sorry i must have missed your comment.

you could melt the margarine or just rub it in before you add the liquid. oil will do but margarine gives the canai better flavor and it seems to be fluffier.

the folding and making dough into a roll is to trap in air so that the canai will be flaky. what i like to do is to fold the 2 sides of the cirle in and then hold the dough by one end and starting with the other end, coil it up.

hope it makes sense

Unknown said...


santan is coconut milk and it is available in cans.

jawa juice is tamarind juice

dhall is the yellow lentils - this is available in indian stores

Anonymous said...

Do you need to put ghee in for the roti? I saw past recipes that required this. They also called for "swinging the dough" quite like how they work pizza dough. This obviously looks way easier than done! ;-)

Unknown said...


ghee is clarified butter and it is prefered for it's flavor. This roti is a favorite of the indians of malaysia and therefore ghee is the preference. it is a hawker food amd for economical purposes, margarine is replaced.

the swinging method for the dough is used by the hawkers and we who make them at home, will have to many practises before we could swing the dough. the pulling and pushing of dough is good enough

Anonymous said...

My wife and I just tested just the roti part of the recipe and it turned out very biscuity instead of the chewy tasty texture that the roti should have. We think this is because we did not let the dough sit long enough. I've looked at several recipes and most of them call for letting the dough sit overnight.

Unknown said...


i do let the dough rest at least 20 = 30 minutes to relax the gluten. the longer you let it rest the easier and softer the dough to pull as thin as possible. do not make into too small a piece and when frying, try to use less oil then it will not be that crispy.

there is another school of thought and it is that the dough should not rest too long as it will affect the texture.

if your canai is biscuit like, then it could the flour you use need more liquid.

Anonymous said...

We used ghee instead of oil, margarine or butter. The dough did not seem dry but of course as we put it on the hot plate/grill, it started to turn biscuity and went downhill from there. It never achieved the gooey texture that the roti should have. Such a big dissapointment!!! The texture as depicted in your photo is what I want to achieve. I think we left the dough to sit for about 20 minutes. Maybe that may not be long enough.

Anonymous said...

For those of you getting thick, "biscuit-like" results, it is quite likely that you are not stretching the dough thin enough. I've been making roti for years and whenever I try to teach someone new, this is usually the biggest problem they have. Before you fold or coil the dough back together it should be thinner than paper. Achieving this thinness is not easy...which is why many people don't have success with this making roti at home.

Anonymous said...

I would love to have one of those right now. I miss roti prata so much. Unfortunately I don't have a work surface to do this. I usual work surface for my cooking is my dinning table. :(

Unknown said...

the cooking ninja

you don't need a large working area, just large enough to place your normal chopping board will do.

put the dough in the middle and stretch dough to the sides as thin as possible

Anonymous said...

Lily,.. my daughter went to friend's house and was served with roti pratha and curry. as she loved it so much, i went to your recipe and found roti cannai. we made it together and i must say, its very nice and quick, by using breville sandwich press to made the roti(crispy outside, stretchy inside). a malaysian friend has gave me some fresh curry leaves. the best smell ever. got to get the tree..
thanks for this wonderful recipe

tuan umah said...


are u malaysian stay oversea?can I know where?i really impress when i see u cooking malaysian-malay food..never see chinese can cook malay food!

Unknown said...


I came from malaysia and is residing now in Denver, Colorado.

I love to cook and bake especially making all the tradional kuih muih that i am accostomed to

Nguyen Family Circus said...

what brand of frozen roti do you buy? the one's that I have seen at the grocery store all have been really thick. not like the one you have in the picture. i life in the bay area so have access to alot of asian grocery store.

Unknown said...

nguyen family circus

i like to buy the brand RAYA. the plain ones or the spring onion ones are very good, they come in a pack of 6 pieces

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily,
I tried your recipe but have problem to stretch it. It sticks to the surface. When I sprinkle more oil, it springs back to thick texture when I try to fold. I'm making 2nd attempt now. Looks like it's failing again.

Unknown said...


oh oh, it seems like the dough is not soft enough. you could have put in shy of a little liquid to make a soft dough.

Rest it further and oil the pastry board or tabletop before stretching the dough. Oil the dough and start pushing from the centre of dough and if it resist, leave it for a while, do the next ball and then come back to it again.

bollybutton said...

Oh thank you so much! I tried both these and they worked. The roti canai took some practice though. I left the dough overnight in the fridge after several failed attempts and then worked with it cold, rolling it out very thin with a greased rolling pin instead of using my hands, folding it, rolling it again and sort of smashing it when it was done cooking. This video will help, watch how he smashed it at the end:

Thank you thank you thank you!!! I'm in Greece and you can't get Malaysian food here. Yummy!!!

Unknown said...


thanks for your video link

Anonymous said...

i tried the abv receipe..
but dun get the desired result..
my prata taste floury.. n its not cripsy...
any idea how 2 impriove it?

Unknown said...


use more oil then the prata will be crispy.

Anonymous said...

I have tried this recipe, but surprised to find out that my dough was very sticky and they can't be formed into balls. And when i placed them on the marble slab, the dough stick onto the it. Can't be lifted and folded to the center.

Amy Beh said...

This recipe is taken from Kuali here:

Sorry Lily but perhaps you could at least mention it in your post.


Unknown said...

amy beh

i am the one who should be sorry for not mentioning. In the earlier posts, some of my recipes are made from recipes copied by hand and if the recipe is good, it would be a keeper. These posting are actually meant for my own references and thank you for having so many good recipes in Kuali,

AJ@Kampong said...

Yay! Looks yummy. I would want to try this at home. Thank you for sharing your Roti Prata food experience. ;)

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