How to Make Roti Canai

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Roti Canai is seen as a bit of a dark art, and there is quite a bit of speculation as to what makes the dough stretchy, but if you’re lucky to get a mamak to reveal the recipe, he’d tell you it’s basically just flour, water and salt. All the other ingredients in my recipe are really there for flavour rather than to help with the ‘flip-ability’ of the dough, however the mixing and the flipping methods are the key to creating successful roti.

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Makes 12


1kg strong bread/baker’s flour

1 Tbsp salt

100 ml condensed milk

100 ml ghee

2 egg whites

400 – 500 ml water

½ cup ghee, extra for coating and flipping the dough


  1. Combine all the ingredients except extra ghee in the bowl of a mixer. Using a dough-hook attachment, mix on the slowest setting for about 5 minutes.

  2. Rest the dough for 5 minutes, then turn on the mixer again for another 5 minutes. Repeat this resting and mixing a total of four times. Dough should be a smooth, soft texture, very pliable but not sticky to the touch.

  3. Scrape dough out onto a clean surface and cut into 12 even pieces.

  4. Knead pieces in the palm of your hands, folding-in if necessary but working it so it becomes a smooth, round ball with no creases. You shouldn’t need any oil or flour.

  5. Coat each ball with with ghee and arrange on an oiled tray. Cover with cling wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for about 8 hours.

  6. Flip the dough:

  • Flatten a piece of dough with the palm of your hand.

  • Assuming you’re right-handed, position your left hand palm down on the flattened dough, and your right hand palm up with your fingers under the edge.

  • Lift dough with your right hand and ‘throw’ the dough away from you to your right, creating a figure 8 with your elbows in the air as you do. Keep flipping until paper thin, then stretch the edges a bit further, being careful not to tear dough.

  1. Dab a little ghee in the middle of the dough sheet, fold in the sides envelope-style to form a square. Set aside to rest for a couple of minutes before cooking.

  2. Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat and brush with some ghee. Cook parcel on medium heat about 2 minutes each side or until cooked through.

  3. Remove from frying pan and place on a clean surface. Clap the sides of the roti with your hands to scrunch it up. Serve with vegetarian dhal or a curry of your choice.


Ghee is rarely employed by most commercial roti makers nowadays because of the cost.  Vegetable oil is a suitable substitute.

The dough works best at room temperature. In colder months, I usually pop the tray into an oven that’s been heated at the lowest oven setting for a minute, then turned off. I’d leave the tray in there for about 30 minutes before I flip the dough.

Roti Canai



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