Malaysian Rotis: 11+ Tantalizing Facts And Malay Vocabulary

Whether it’s the fragrance of frying rotis with a bit of ghee on them, the mess you make while eating a flaky roti, or the delight of dipping a roti into a curry sauce – eating Malaysian Roti is an absolute delight! Join me in discovering this delicious bread found mainly in Malaysia and Singapore.

When Was This Ingenious Bread First Made

Ever wonder where this fantastic bread came from? I do! So many Southeast Asian countries have Roti and versions of Roti on their menu, but when and where was it first made? Here is a bit of info!

There are three possible conclusions on where the roti bread was originally made. The first holds the most evidence – in Southern India, and others pointed toward the Egyptian Indus Valley Civilization about 5000 years ago. Finally, there is also evidence of it being made long ago in East Africa.

Countries that eat Roti are mostly those in the Indian subcontinent. Besides Malaysia and Singapore, there is Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad, and Tobago.


The Basics Of Making Malaysian Roti

Here is a step-by-step recipe for making Roti in Malaysia and the words used in the Malay language.


  • Flour/whole wheat flour – tepung/tepung Gandum
  • Water – air suam

Other Cooking Words In Malay

  • Bowl – mangkuk
  • Knead – menguli
  • Dough – bola doh
  • Rolling pin – penggelek
  • Frying pan – Kuali
  • Oil – minyak
  • Stove – dapur


Types Of Malaysian Rotis

Types of Malaysian Rotis
Types of Malaysian Rotis
  • Roti Cheese: Making roti cheese is pretty similar to the basics mentioned above, except while mixing the dough, salt is added; after you stretch the dough into thin layers, add grated cheese. Most people use cheese that quickly melts, like mozzarella. Fold the paper-thin layer to close the cheese – like forming an envelope with cheese inside! Then, flatten the dough and fry till golden brown.
  • Roti Prata: Now, let’s answer the big and common question asked here. Is roti the same as prata? Well, yes and no. Roti means bread, and Prata means flat, two words combined, and it’s called Roti prata. Roti contains fewer calories, and Prata do not, even when both are made from wheat flour. Roti is plain bread.
    Prata has all the naughty goodness of various layers and stuffing and is fried in deep or shallow vegetable oil. Roti often needs to be accompanied by a side dish; Roti prata can stand well on its own. Point to be noted: Roti paratha is made with maida flour or bread flour. This has more gluten, and the two are not the same dough.
  • Roti Canai: Roti Canai is the official term for Roti used in Malaysia. Besides the ingredients above, the roti canai dough also contains eggs and fat. The most common fat is ghee which can be added a bit before you serve roti canai. To make roti canai, the dough is folded many times.
    This is what makes the flaky Roti in the outer part, and the inside will be textured but soft. Making roti canai takes time, and the dough ball must be well kneaded. Authentic roti canai can be found in unique places in Malaysia. The Malay word canai can be translated to flatbread.
  • Roti Telur: This is more like an omelet roti because it has an egg encased inside the flaky dough. It is most often served with spicy, savory curries.
  • Roti Pisang: This is the all-famous Malaysian Roti, often also called banana bread, as banana is its star ingredient. It is usually served as a breakfast or afternoon snack and is served with a healthy helping of condensed milk.


Side Dishes With Malaysian Roti

The best ones:

  • Dhal Curry (kari dhal)Dhal curry is a lentil soup, delicious with a roti. Dhal curry is often not spicy and is served hot. It is a vegetarian dish and is paired with rice in many countries as well.
  • Curry Sauce (kuah kari): Malaysian curry sauce is unique because it has flavors from India, China, and Malay all in one. The spices are made to a powder and used for curries that have a thin consistency and often a tangy taste, unique to Malay curries.
  • Chicken Curry (kari ayam): This is one of the most loved Southeast Asian curries. Paired with a roti, this can be any meal: breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Fish Curry (kari ikan): The coconut fish curry of Malaysia is very famous. Although fish curry is paired with steamed rice in most countries, a nice Roti canai would do well, too, among Malays.
  • Spicy Gravy (kuah pedas): These are readily available to be served with rotis of choice. It does not necessarily have meat in it. The spice of the gravy itself is yummy with the Roti.


Ordering Malaysian Rotis In Malay

Here are sentences you can use to make your orders in Malay:

  • One roti canai with less oil – satu roti canai kurang minyak
  • Rotiprata with chicken curry, less spicy – Rotiprata dengan kari ayam, kurang pedas
  • Two roti pisang packed to go – Dua roti pisang dibungkus untuk pergi
  • Roti pisang with less sweet – Roti pisang kurang manis
  • Roti telur and spicy gravy for here – Roti telur dan kuah pedas untuk di sini
  • Roti cheese with extra cheese – Roti keju dengan keju tambahan


Great Places For Great Rotis

  • Mamak Restaurants (restoran mamak)These are famous restaurants for making roti canai. To make roti canai, experience is needed in folding the dough and creating textures and layers of roti dough. Mamak restaurants are the best in this beautiful art of roti making.
  • Mamak Stalls (gerai mamak): These are the tiny but mighty chefs you can find on the roadside. They are true artists who never fail to create excellent taste in the most challenging environment or location. Honestly, I would prefer the roadside roti canai experience any day! The authentic roti canai taste can be found here.
  • Homemade (buatan sendiri): There is a saying that nothing beats a mother’s cooking. This includes the homemade Roti made by relatives or in the warmth of family. That tastes equally amazing too!


Learn Malay With Ling

Learn Malay with Ling
Learn Malay With Ling

Making round Roti can be difficult, and flipping roti canai can be even more challenging. So, why not make friends instead? With a Malay friend to guide you through making Roti and more Malay recipes, the cooking time will go so fast! Plus, you will be exposed to the language, culture, and traditions revolving around this beautiful flatbread! 

Learning a language can be challenging, and Ling is an app that can help reduce that challenge. If you want to learn Malay, choose the Ling app – a one-stop solution to your language learning experience. 

Understanding common words, meanings, sentences, and pronunciations are among the few things to help you learn. Also available are numerous lessons taught through games and at your own pace. What are you waiting for? 

Download the Ling App from App Store or Google Play today and start learning Malay!

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