Roti Canai

Chef shares their kitchen secrets and techniques on how to make classic crisp layered roti canai. There are no shortcuts to creating this flaky, crispy flat bread. However, the delicious results are well worth the effort. PRINT



400g plain flour
200ml lukewarm water
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Half teaspoon caster sugar
1-2 cups vegetable oil

Chefs Home Tips

Prepare the roti canai dough one day before in order to save time on the day. In addition, dough left overnight will ferment slowly developing a full flavour and allow the gluten to relax contributing to the doughs stretch ability. Critical for creating those super thin layers.

The traditional way of stretching the roti dough is to pick it up from one side, flap it in the air and then slap it down. This takes a bit of practice, but is highly satisfying!

Oil is essential for roti canai. When less oil is used, the dough will be hard and dry. Begin the kneading process by coating your hands in oil, or have a generous amount in your palms.

The secret to crisp and fluffy roti canai is roughing it up immediately after
frying to release trapped moisture. To ‘clap’ the roti: straight from the pan place on a flat surface, carefully using both hands squeeze the roti to the centre a couple of times like you are trying to clap your hands.


Dilute salt and sugar in 200ml of lukewarm water and gradually add to flour in a large bowl. Mix well to form a dough.

Oil your kneading space. Take out and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes by hand. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Cover your hands with vegetable oil, divide dough into 8 and roll into balls. Coat a bowl with oil, placing each oiled ball in and coat with more oil as you go. Coat balls
generously in oil, cover and chill overnight. (Or a minimum of 1 hour, but the results will not be as good).

Oil your kneading space. Take out one of the dough balls and flatten using the palm of your hand until the size of size plate (15cm x15cm). Next you are aiming to work the roti dough until it is paper thin and roughly 40cm x 40cm – it’s amazing how tactile and strong the dough is. The thinner the dough, the more layers, the better the roti will be.

Flip it like a pizza a couple of times or alternatively, stretch it with your hands, the oil on the work surface will grip the dough. Don’t worry if it tears a little.

Take one edge and fold it into a third towards the middle. Do this for the opposite side and then the remaining two sides until you have a square. Oil lightly and set aside. Repeat with the remaining dough, keeping them well oiled.

Grease a flat pan or skillet and over a medium heat, frying the roti for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. Lightly ‘clap’ the roti a couple of times from each side to rough it up and keep warm in a low oven.

Serve with Beast & Butterflies Laksa.