roti canai with the sauce or gravies - dhal, curry and hot sambalroti canai with dhal, curry and hot sambal
roti canai telur or roti canai mixed with eggroti canai telur

What is Roti Canai?

Well, it actually means "thin or flat bread" or pancake in Malay. But then this delightful Malaysian pancake really is quite special.

It is a food, snack and perhaps delicacy put together, where everyone enjoys eating it, especially for breakfast and afternoon tea.

Roti canai can be found especially in nearly all Indian Muslim (or Malaysians call them "mamak") restaurants, food-courts and stalls, and at ramadan bazaars and sunday night markets, in the towns of Pahang and Malaysia.

It is rather fast and easy to make, but there is a special skill required to knead, toss and spin the dough into thin slices which comes only with regular practice.

roti canai banjir or roti canai flooded with dhal sauce ready for eatingroti canai banjir

When you order a plate at a stall or restaurant, watch the cook on what needs to be done (that is, the skills required) to flatten the dough before baking it on the griddle. See how the cook spins the dough into a thin piece and folds it (this is to let the yeast in the dough to grow before frying the roti canai).

It looks rather easy to do, but when I tried it, the dough splattered all over!

On special order, sardine (beaten with eggs and onions) are sometimes added to the dough before putting it onto the hot griddle or frying pan. This variation of the cuisine is called "roti canai sardin" or just "roti sardin". 

In fact there are so many variations of the roti canai and it can be done by just adding other ingredients to the dough. 

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And if you wish to make this simple flour based cuisine, here’s the recipe. Actually making your own roti canai is very easy.


1 kg wheat flour 
3 tablespoon margarine 
1 egg 
1teaspoon of salt 
1 tablespoon of refined sugar 
water and cooking oil 


* Put the flour, margarine, egg, salt and sugar into a bowl and mix them thoroughly.

curling the dough into a square or round pancakecurling the dough into round pancake

* Add water gradually into the bowl, then mix and knead the ingredients until it turns into a soft dough.

* Divide the dough into balls (palm size). Sprinkle some cooking oil onto the balls and leave them to stand for the night.

* The next day the ball of dough is flattened and then heated on a griddle or a heavy based frying pan, into a pancake.

It is at this point that the skilled cook will knead, toss and spin the dough into a thin piece and join the ends together making a somewhat square pancake, before putting it onto the griddle.

For the rest of us who can only spin the dough (and watch it fall onto the floor!), it will suffice to just roll and flatten the ball of dough by hand or by using a roller, into thin, round pancakes.

The pancake is cooked and ready for serving when it turns light yellow, although some people would prefer it to be burned a bit longer and thus crispier.


morning breakfast of roti canai (with dhal sauce and beef rendang) and teh tarikmorning breakfast of roti canai

Roti canai is normally served and eaten with dhall or curry sauce.

It can also be eaten with chicken or beef rendang or other dishes and gravy.

It can also be adapted into a roti canai telur (egg), roti sardine, roti boom, murtabak, or with fruits (like bananas) or whatever ingredients that could be wrapped inside the dough before heating it.

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Well, that's generally how this wonderful Malaysian pancake is made.

Whenever you’re in Kuantan, or other towns in Pahang or Malaysia, try this special Malaysian pancake, and watch how it is first tossed and spread out thin before baking. Really delightful just to watch the cook’s skill. 

This ubiquitous snack can be turned into a sumptuous meal just by adding ingredients to it and eating it with combinations of chicken, fish, beef or mutton curries and other tasty dishes.

And make sure you down it with a cup of "teh tarik" (Malaysian tea with milk). Ahh, simply awesome.

That is why it is a popular snack or meal in Pahang and Malaysia.

Hope you enjoy this Malaysian pancake.

As always, from me...


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› Roti Canai