Roti Jala (Malaysian Net Crêpes)

The other day, I came across this really interesting ‘Tasty’ video on YouTube; it seemed to be a popular snack and street-food that has its roots in Malaysia. After some research, I learn that ‘Roti Jala’, as it’s called, is actually immensely popular throughout SE Asia, and is eaten around the continent.

Now Roti Jala is eaten with a chicken curry, often a spicy one, a perfect accompaniment to these delicately coconuty pancakes. I don’t know what vegetarians do, since the pancake itself contains egg, but perhaps you can skip the eggs, add some yogurt or cornflour, and have it with a veggie stew? We however, had them with some hair-raising, lip-smacking, spicy, Chicken Vindaloo.

Roti Jala 1

Interestingly, Roti Jala literally translates to Net Bread, or Crepe, or Net Pancake, iconic for its intricate lacy pattern that has to be created with a special Roti Jala mould; a ladle with five nozzles, that you hold over the pan, and make patterns. Now obviously, I didn’t have a mould, but that’s where the ‘Tasty’ video helped me out. I knew I just HAD to make these, and I had the perfect weapon for making them too 😉

Roti Jala 3

Now, as the Tasty recipe suggests, you may use a small bottle, like a soda or a mineral water bottle, and poke 3 holes (or even 5 if you can manage), in its cap. Then you pour the batter in, and screw on the cap, and viola, you have a bottle with a 3-hole space to help you draw the batter in the patterns you like!

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Like that (pictured above). I of course, didn’t use a bottle… 😀 I mean I used a squeeeezy bottle… with a single nozzle…albeit not a very helpful one, considering you need to squeeze it really hard, and at the perfect angle…or you’ll end up with a blob!

As you can see, there’s no hole; the cap has to be rotated and a gap opens up around the nozzle, allowing the flow of liquid from within. It’s actually quite handy, since it helps you control the flow, and makes patterning easier 🙂

Roti Jala 4

Roti Jala (adapted from Tasty)

Ingredients:

  • Plain Flour (Maida) – 2 cup
  • Egg – 2 (replace with 1 tbsp cornflour or 2 tbsp yogurt/curd if vegetarian)
  • Coconut milk – 1 cup (I used powder, 1/2 cup is enough)
  • Milk – about 1/4 cup
  • Water – 1/2 cup (adjust to make smooth batter)
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1tsp
  • Oil – 1 tsp

Special equipment:

  • Squeezy bottle with single nozzle
    OR
  • Small bottle (like a mineral water bottle), with 3 holes punched into the cap

Method:

  1. Sieve the flour into a large bowl, add the coconut milk powder, turmeric, salt and whisk with a fork.
  2. Now add the egg, milk and whisk again.
  3. Slowly add the water little by little, constantly whisking to make it smooth.
  4. When the batter is smooth and lump free, add the oil and whisk again. (The batter should be like pancake/dosa batter, not too runny, just enough to spread on pan).
  5. Pour it into the bottle.
  6. Heat a non-stick pan, and keep flame on medium high.
  7. With the bottle, now start to pour our batter in circular motions, essentially creating a lacy design on the pan.
  8. Let the pancake cook for a minute or two, and then gently, with a spatula, start lifting the edges off the pan, and flip it over.
  9. Give the other side 1 min again, and then tip pancake on to a large plate.
  10. Now, let it cool enough to touch, but while still warm, begin folding it like so —- fold either sides inwards, then roll, and tuck the ends.
  11. Repeat process for the rest, and serve Roti Jala warm or at room temp, with spicy chicken curry!

Roti Jala 5

 

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