Your New Sunday Morning Breakfast: Malaysian Flying Bread

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Chef Christina Arokiasamy's Roti Canai breakfast.
Chef Christina Arokiasamy's Roti Canai breakfast. Christina Arokiasamy

In honor of National Breakfast Month, Chef Christina Arokiasamy -- Seattle resident and Malaysian Food Ambassador to the U.S. -- shares her recipe for "flying bread," called Roti Canai.

Roti Canai (pronounced “rho-tee chan-ai”) is a flaky griddled flatbread typically enjoyed alongside a hot cup of Teh Tarik or “pulled tea.” It's traditionally made with a mixture of white flour, water, and clarified butter (or ghee) and a touch of condensed milk. It is best eaten when dipped in freshly made potato coconut curry, or for a sweet variation combined with Nutella or Agromas Kaya Coconut Spread.

“Roti Canai can be easily made at home with just six simple ingredients from the pantry, but for a quick breakfast for my family, I keep Raya Puff Paratha—available at most Asian and American grocery stores throughout the United States—in my freezer. It can be toasted in a skillet and ready to eat in less than five minutes,” Arokiasamy said.

Roti Canai, a staple breakfast food in Malaysia.
Roti Canai, known as the Malaysian "coffee and croissant" breakfast staple, comes together with just six ingredients.Christina Arokiasamy

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs. sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • 2½ cups high-gluten flour (more for dusting)
  • 1 ounce ghee or clarified butter, at room temperature; more for brushing and cooking
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil

Preparation:

  1. Mix the water, condensed milk and salt in a bowl.
  2. In a different bowl, mix the flour and ghee and make a well in the center.
  3. Pour the liquid ingredients in the well and knead outwardly until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Knead for about 5 minutes more to form a soft dough.
  5. Drizzle the oil on the dough and knead for a couple more minutes.
  6. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for about 1 hour at room temperature.
  7. Divide the dough into 8 portions and mound each into a ball. Coat the dough balls with a bit of ghee so they won’t stick to each other. Let rest for 2 hours.
  8. On a large, lightly floured surface, roll each ball until paper thin and between 24 and 30 inches in diameter. (Malaysian cooks achieve this thinness with a special technique called “tebar,” by which the dough is flattened and tossed in the air several times.)
  9. Fold four sides of the dough into the middle to form a square.
  10. Melt a little bit of the ghee in a preheated cast-iron skillet (or a large griddle) over medium heat. Cook the roti one at a time, turning once or twice, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. (If using a griddle you can put as many roti on the griddle as there is space for).
  11. Put the cooked roti on a flat surface and give it a light whack with your hand, then turn it 90 degrees and give it another light whack (doing this separates the layers a bit and makes the roti fluffier).
Chef Christina Arokiasamy
Chef Christina Arokiasamy was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, and now makes her home in Seattle, Washington.Christina Arokiasamy
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