Roti Canai, the popular Malaysian flatbread, has been named the “best bread in the world” by Taste Atlas.
The recipe and cooking technique was brought over to the Malay peninsular by Tamil speaking Muslims from Southern India (specifically Chennai), and to this day is available from street food vendors and restaurants known as Mamak.
The word mamak comes from the Tamil “mama” for maternal uncle or sister’s husband, but in the Malaysian context, the term is used to refer to the Indian Muslim community.
Made with flour, water, sugar, salt & dairy, the dough is folded several times to create layers, then cooked on a griddle.
Partial to a few of these moorish rotis, soft on the inside and flaky on the outside, and not just for breakfast, we can see why it was ranked number one, out of fifty strong international contenders. The experiential travel guide placed Roti Canai above Colombian bread, pan de bono, and third-placed butter garlic naan from India.
In Singapore, Roti Canai is known as Roti Prata. It was awarded the 12th spot on the list. Similar to Malaysia, it’s served best with a side dish of kari (curry) – dhal, mutton, chicken or fish.
Internationally Roti Canai is often mistaken for the South Indian ‘parotta’ (also made with maida flour), and occasionally it’s northern variant known as Paratha (made with atta flour). The Indian Roti (collectively) was ranked 27th, and the Paratha in the 29th spot.
So where can you find Roti Canai in the UK? Whilst many Malaysian restaurants will have Roti Canai on their menu, they use the pre-made frozen variety due to the lack of skilled Roti Canai chefs in the UK.
However there is one company that specialises in this delicious flatbread, and serves hand-made, fresh to order Roti Canai, seven days a week from their central London branches – Roti King (Euston & Battersea) and their Markethalls outposts Gopal’s Corner (Victoria, Oxford street and Canary Wharf). Founded by Ipoh born, Malaysian Tamil chef Sugen Gopal aka the Roti King, this is where Malaysians go for their roti-fix!