My very first solo trip abroad, in the middle of my senior year of college, was to Southeast Asia: Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. The primary motivation was that I had a couple friends in Kuala Lumpur who talked up the food in their hometown. I had to go. (Also, like, everyone goes to Europe, right? Pssh, so normie. I may have been the worst.)
As formative experiences go, it was a pretty great one (one terrible case of food poisoning that ruined red wine for me forever aside). And the food was legit delicious all around. But to represent that trip, I thought I’d try my hand at something popular at the open-air cafes called mamaks we visited several times: roti canai. That’s a flaky pan-fried flatbread served with a savory dip like a curry or dal. Good for breakfast. Good for anytime, really. And it’s a process that requires skill and experience, neither of which I’m likely to master this first time out, but let’s try, anyway.
The recipe I used wasn’t the most detailed, but I made some judgment calls along the way. For example, I used boiling water instead of room temp, for one because salt and sugar needed to dissolve in it and for another because I’ve seen that used for dumpling-like dough that gets stretched in ways called for later on.
The dough gets a long rest, then it’s flattened and stretched into a big windowpane, basically, before twirling it into a loose coil. That means it doesn’t really matter if there are tears in the thin dough; it’s forgiving, I suppose. The more thin flaps and folds, the more texture in the final product.
It’s not ad big and stretchy and flaky and golden as the real thing, but it’s very nice. And served with dal, it’s a meal.