Roti – Malaysian Pancakes

Mmmmm. Roti is the traditional accompaniment for Malaysian Curry – the combination being called Roti Chanai. Nothing like it. Watching Malaysian chefs prepare this flaky bread is a treat in itself. I love seeing them work the dough and then throw it around in ever expanding sheets. Fantastic. Recipe makes six roti = enough for four people.

Roti - Malaysian Pancakes

Steven Thomas


  • 3 cups plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/5 cup extra water


  • Mix flour, salt and sugar in a big bowl
  • Add the liquids (milk and initial portion of water) gradually to flour, working mixture with your hands.
  • Kneed until the dough is smooth and elastic (like play dough or "soft like a baby's bottom" - if that helps).
  • You probably have to add extra water during the kneading. Flours differ so you won't know exactly how much water you need until you get the texture you're aiming for.
  • Form the dough into a roll
  • Pinch the the roll into six pieces
  • Peanut (ground nut) oil
  • Wet your hands with peanut oil.
  • Form each piece of dough into a ball, ensuring the surface is covered with oil.
  • Put the oiled balls back in the bowl.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film.
  • Place the bowl in a warm place and leave for 5 hours.
  • Tip a little oil on a clean working surface and wet your hands with some more.
  • Place a dough ball on the surface and flatten as much as possible with your hands (should be roughly dinner plate sized).
  • Add a little oil and oil a rolling pin.
  • Roll out pastry until very thin (1-2 mm). It might break but that is ok.
  • When thin enough fold the sides in to form a rectangle.
  • Fry each side on in an oiled pan until pastry puffs up and becomes golden (don't take long).
  • Repeat with other dough balls.


Serve with Malaysian Curry - the combination being called Roti Chanai.
Also good as a dessert: fill with sliced banana, cooked a bit until the banana melts, then sprinkled with sugar.

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