Friday, 3 October 2014

Roti Canai / Susu


Holy smokes, Batman. Have I ever told you about my love for roti? Oh my goodness, it is SO hard to find it as authentic as the ones back in Malaysia.. .SO hard - I should know, I spend forever finding the places that do genuine made-from-scratch roti NOT from the freezer aisle.  Why do I have an infinite love for these soft and buttery on the inside, crispy and flaky on the outside goodness? Because it's such a great vehicle for so many variety of toppings and accompaniments. AND THEY ALL TASTE GREAT!  If you've never tasted freshly rolled, tossed, folded and grilled roti, you don't know what you are missing. I'm just drooling at all my favourite combinations mmm.... 
Roti Canai is the translation of bread (roti) and to roll out dough (canai) in Malay.  This is quite the literal meaning as fresh roti is made by rolling out the dough as thin as possible and folding it so that the filling is encased in the feather-light dough.  You can get the roti canai from mamak stalls in Malaysia, usually served with a side of curry. Roti is a very versatile item that can be adapted to be sweet or savoury.  Because of this, this is the perfect dish that can be eaten at any time of the day.   

We introduced roti to my boys when we were visiting Malaysia couple years back. Out of all the different combinations that they had tasted, the loved roti susu best.  Roti susu is an adaptation of roti canai, where condensed milk is spread on the bread.  No surprises that the boys loved the sweetness of the milk with crispiness of the bread. Now whenever they see a mamak stall, they ask for roti susu. There is one particular stall in Kuching that sells good roti.  Because roti isn't as easy to find in East Malaysia, we were visiting this stall pretty much every morning!  They would easily demolish two or three pieces each.  

When we came back to Brisbane, we discovered a roti stall at one of the local markets. As much as they were authentic, and very much the real deal (the wife who ran the stall said her husband was very pedantic on making it fresh, and you could see him roll out each dough as the orders came in), it cost $5 minimum, and unfortunately didn't do the roti susu the boys loved so much.  So although it was great to scarf down a plate or two of roti telur or roti tisu on a breezy Sunday morning, I started thinking if there was a way to make my boys favourite roti.

I tried using the pre-packed frozen roti and added condensed milk, but although it was a cheaper option, it definitely didn't taste as good as the original. After a bit of research, I realised that it wasn't that difficult, really coming down to flour, fat and water to make it.  After a few trial and error, I finally settled with the particular recipe! 

Ingredients :
(serves 4) 

1 cup all purpose flour
dash of salt
1/2 cup of water 
Condensed milk

Using the dough hook attachment in your mixer, put flour, salt and water in the mixing bowl and knead until smooth.  This should take a couple of minutes.

On a floured surface, tip the dough out and roll it into a log.  Cut the dough in half, and the half of the dough in half again, giving you four portions.  Roll each dough into the shape of a ball.  Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a wet towel so that the dough doesn't dry out while rolling out each portion.

Take one ball out and roll it out flat.  Roll it up into a small thin log and then roll the log in like a snail, where it should resemble a sea shell (see below image for example).  Press the dough down using the palm, then with the rolling pin, roll the dough until it is paper thin.  Spread some butter and condensed milk onto the dough. 

Fold each end towards the middle to make a square. Press it down and roll it out a bit (don't worry if it breaks and the butter and milk squeeze out). 

Heat a non stick pan on low and put one roti on the pan. Fry for two to three minutes on each side.

Use a pizza roller knife to cut the roti into small bite size for little fingers or you can just tear them apart using fingers. 

To make plain roti for curries, just omit the condensed milk.  You can substitute the condensed milk with a variety of fillings.

For roti telur you can crack an egg in the middle.  My favourite is roti kaya - roti spread with sweet coconut jam.  I've tried nutella, honey and banana, ham, egg and cheese or you could go with my childhood favourite, plain roti dipped in sugar.  Happy eating, friends!  

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