How to Make Roti Prata aka Roti Canai: Everything you need to know!

Homemade Roti Prata

The reason I am writing this post is because I cannot find a single resource on the internet that gives you everything you need to know in order to create Roti Prata/Canai.  In order to make a Roti Prata that is as good, or even better than those you find outside you really need to know all the details, from what kind of flour to use, to how to prepare the dough, to how to flip the dough just like your favourite Prata Man.  So this post is necessarily long because I want to include everything which I have learnt over the course of the last month or so from talking to Prata Men, studying Prata flipping videos and even to the extent of discussing the characteristics of flour with the expert at Prima Flour Mills.  I have included a few recipes plus a slideshow on how to make the dough and 2 videos where I demonstrate, step by step, the dynamics of the Prata flip as well as another method to achieve the same Roti Prata which even a 5 year old can do.  I hope that by reading this post, you will be making Pratas at home in no time and wowing your friends with your Prata Prowess.

But before we get into the nitty gritty details, let's talk about Roti Prata.  I spoke to a patient of mine a while ago who happened to be from South India about Roti Prata. Many people have previously told me that the dish we Singaporeans call Roti Prata, (aka in Malaysia as Roti Canai) does not exist in India.  My patient confirmed that it is not true.  Roti Prata does exist in India, but only in a small part of Southern India and predominantly in a place called Chennai. Over there, this dish is simply called Prata.  Indian migrants brought this dish to Malaya where it became known as Roti Prata. The Malaysians however, named this dish Roti Canai which means the "Roti" (bread) from Chennai.* If you still doubt that this dish is available in India, consider this: Most of the men who make the Prata in Singapore are foreign workers from Southern India.  Do you really think that we brought them over to teach them how to make Prata?  It's like bringing the Chinese over and trying to teach them how to play Ping Pong right?


Anyway, Roti Pratas are a favourite breakfast dish amongst Singaporeans but there is a certain level of mystique about it because of the process of flipping the dough such that not many people would even attempt to do at home.  Why would you want to make it at home if it is so readily available and is relatively cheap?  Well, I can think of three reasons.

1.  Most of the Pratas you eat at the stalls will contain high levels of Trans Fats since they are made with cheap margarine and they usually contain more oil than is necessary.  When you make Prata at home, you can choose to use Olive Oil and limit the amount of oil used.

2. When you can make your own Prata, you can then add ingredients which you will never find outside, like say, Luncheon Meat, Egg and Onion Murtabak (filled prata) which is really very tasty.  Then you can organize parties and get your friends to bring toppings and design their own Murtabak!

3.  Because nobody believes you can.

Fluffy on the inside, Crispy on the Outside!  Best for soaking up your favourite curry!

So let's get started with a discussion of the basic ingredients.  The simplest Prata you can make consists of flour, water, salt and sugar.  You can enrich the dough by adding oil, condensed milk and egg.  Since we are making this at home, we can afford to put in some of the good stuff.  So the recipe I would do in my home would be the following:

Enriched Prata Dough Recipe (Richer taste, more tender)
1.  Plain Flour 600g
2.  Water 270ml
3.  Condensed Milk 80g (1/4 cup)
4.  Oil or Melted Butter/Ghee 15ml (1 tablespoon)
5.  Salt 1 teaspoon
6.  1 egg

Here is another recipe without the condensed milk

Leaner Prata Dough Recipe (Crispier texture)
1.  Plain Flour 600g
2.  Water 300ml
3.  Salt 1 teaspoon
4.  Sugar 1 tablespoon
5.  Oil 15 ml
6.  1 egg

Lyoner, Egg and Cheese Layered Prata


Notes on ingredients:

Flour
This is by far the most confusing and took me the longest time to figure out.  In Singapore, almost every Prata shop uses a flour called "Ikan Terbang" (Flying Fish).  It comes in 25kg sacks and on the sack it is written that it is "Best used for Roti Prata".  Now it is critical to get the right flour because you need the correct protein level in order to be able to create a dough which is both extensible and strong, but not too resistant to stretching or you will have problems flipping it.   I eventually bought a whole 25kg sack of Ikan Terbang flour because I wanted to make sure that at least I got the right flour so that I can just figure out the rest of the recipe.  You can buy a whole sack of flour for $34 at Hong Lim Complex at the corner shop on the the junction of South Bridge Road and Upper Cross St.  They will also sell you 1kg portions for $1.80.

But you don't have to do that because I finally managed to talk to the flour expert at Prima Flour Mills who told me that Ikan Terbang is simply plain flour with a 10.8% protein content.  Furthermore, you can buy the exact same flour at your supermarket as it is sold in 1kg packs labeled "Plain Flour" by Primaflour.  So where ever you are in the world, if you can get your hands on plain flour with a protein level of 10.8%, it would work perfectly.

Water
I make my dough using room temperature water.  The importance of water cannot be understated.  Too little water and your dough will be too stiff and not very extensible.  That means that when you flip it it will not stretch out nicely.  Too much water and your dough will be too pliable and lack enough resistance.  A hydration level of about 60% is about right.  (Hydration level = Water weight/Flour weight X 100)

Condensed Milk
You can omit this if you like but it adds a nice caramel flavour and sweetness to the Prata.  The milk also tenderizes the dough somewhat and the sugar helps to caramelize the Prata to a nice brown colour.  If you omit the 1/4 cup of condensed milk, replace it with 40mls of water and 1 tablespoon of Sugar.

Oil/Butter/Ghee
This helps to give the Prata a nice flavour and also in making the dough more pliable. Oil acts like a levening agent by getting in between the gluten sheets.  So the more oil, the fluffier the prata.  You can omit the oil if you wish, it will just be a little less pliable when you flap and the taste will be a little flat and the prata less fluffy.  Most people are so used to the Prata sold outside that they might comment that the homemade ones just lack something.  If that is the case, just buy some Planta Margarine and fry your Prata in a pool of that stuff and you will achieve that authentic prata taste!  Yes, we have been conditioned to enjoy the taste of  Trans Fats!

Salt
Salt adds taste and strengthens the dough. Without salt, your prata will taste very flat and lifeless.

Egg
The egg proteins help to strengthen the gluten and makes the flipping easier.  The egg white helps make the dough more resilient and the yolk contains lecithin which helps emulsify the oil.  The egg also adds more nutritional value to the dough. When I omit the egg, I find my prata tears easier when I am flipping it.



Making the Dough

This is by far the most important part of the whole Prata production process. If you have a good dough and bad flipping technique, you can still end up with a good Prata.  However, if your dough is bad, there is no way you will ever get a good Prata.

In order to make a dough that is pliable and elastic, you need to remember just one crucial point.  Be patient with your dough!  What dough needs more than anything else is time.  Dough is like a bad tempered friend.  If you want to get through to him, you have to use a soft approach.  The more you fight it, the more it will retaliate.  Let it cool down for a while and deal with it gently and it will do whatever you want.

So as you can see from the slideshow, there is a lot of waiting involved.  The first wait is after you mix the flour and water.  Once both water and flour is mixed evenly, leave it alone for 20 minutes for them to get to know each other intimately.  This stage is known technically as the autolysis stage.  If you continue to force it to combine together, you are just wasting your time and energy. Give it 20 minutes and when you start to knead, you will get a smooth dough in no time.

For this dough, you really do need to develop the gluten a bit.  So I usually knead it at speed 2 on my KitchenAid (Medium slow) for 10 minutes with a 5 minute rest time in between. If you want it to be even more elastic, repeat the 5 minute knead and rest cycle one more time.  If you are kneading by hand, you will need to double the kneading  time.  What you want to end up with is a tacky dough which becomes smooth as a baby's bottom with just a bit of dusting of flour.

Right after kneading, divide the dough into equal parts.  I usually divide mine into ten 100g dough balls (approx).  At one time, I used to oil my hands and ball it like how I see the Prata Men do it but I realized that the oil makes it difficult for the flour to combine at the folds.  What you really want is a smooth ball of dough without any folds because these folds will cause fractures in your dough during the flipping process.  So now I divide my dough and make them into nice balls before I oil them.

Once you oil the balls, you can do what they do outside and put them altogether in a box.  But I find it easier to use non-stick muffin trays as I can minimize the amount of oil used and when I remove them, they come out as nice round ice hockey like pucks which is easy to flatten into round discs for flipping. You should try to rest them for at least 8 hours or overnight, because during this time, the enzymes in the flour will start working on the sugars and some of the wild yeast in the air will start fermenting the dough.  The resting makes the dough more pliable and easy to flip as well as give it a more complex flavour.  Remember to cover the dough balls with clingwrap to keep the surface from drying out. If you are in a hurry, you can flip the dough in as little as 50 mins after balling. (I guess it could be shorter, I just haven't tried it yet)  It still works, but you might find it breaks a little easier.

ieat's Express Prata Dough Recipe using the Cuisinart Food Processor

Sometimes you might just want to dish out your prata on the spot.  I found that you can do this in an hour and fifteen minutes if you use a Food Processor.  Basically, all the ingredients go into the Food Processor with the dough blade attached.  Blend for 20 seconds until all the flour and water are mixed and the dough looks like a shaggy mass.  Next, rest the dough for 20 mins then turn on the processor for 30 seconds followed by 2 min rest and another 30 seconds.  The rest in between prevents your processor from overheating and allows the dough to rest so that it is easier to process.  Divide and rest the dough for 50 mins and you are ready to go!

The important part of this process is the rest time after balling the dough.  The longer you rest the dough the better.  I find that by 50 mins dough is extensible enough to be flipped.  However, if you can rest the dough longer, you will find that it becomes even more pliable but the improvement might only be 10 to 20%.  If you leave your dough overnight, you allow fermentation to take place and your dough will have time to develop a full bodied flavour.


Flipping the Prata

This is the fun part but is also the hardest to master if you want to be able to look like a Pro. (To really look like a Pro, you need hairy arms and a dark complexion, this I cannot help you with)  I have actually tried to learn the technique from several Prata Men in the past and they have given me a few pointers here and there.  But most of the time they just tell me that it would take me 3 months to pick up the skill if I practice everyday.  As with most things, if you don't understand the fundamentals of what you are doing and are just doing it blindly, it would take a long time.  However, I have studied the videos on youtube over and over again and I eventually managed to conceptualize what is actually happening during the flipping process.  With this basic understanding, I managed to master the skill within two weeks.  (I must have flapped hundreds of balls though). In the video, I will show you the concept of the prata flip using a round disc, then you can see how it is done with a towel and eventually a piece of dough.  I believe that if you study it well, you will be flipping Pratas in no time. 

HD version uploaded on 31 Mar 2011


The Pro version of making Roti Prata

For those who are not so patient and don't have a need to show off to their friends, I have made a second video where you can achieve the same membrane thin stretched dough using a method even my primary school daughter can do.  Don't be intimidated by the prata flip, just concentrate on making a good dough and I guarantee you that you will get to eat crispy, fluffy and healthier Pratas at home in no time.


The novice version of making Roti Prata

Ieat's Drive for the Perfect Prata Recipe

I have been thinking hard about how to achieve a crispier prata without having to add more oil to the dough and have came up with a method that works pretty well.  The only drawback is that you really have to time the whole process properly.  As far as I know, no one else has published a recipe like this online so I think this should be an ieat original recipe.

What we need to do for a crispy crust and a fluffier inside is to introduce little air bubbles into the dough.  You can do this by adding yeast or baking soda.  I chose to use yeast because it gives you better control of the levening process.  If you are after a Prata that will adequately portray your potent personal Prata prowess, I will use either Ghee or French Butter in place of oil and I also add 1/16 tsp of yeast (a pinch only) into the flour when I mix all the ingredients together. Once you ball the dough and oil it, place it immediately into the fridge to rest for 8 hours.  By putting the dough in the fridge you slow down the levening process but you are still giving the dough time to rest and combine properly.  About an hour and a half before you decide to flip you prata, bring it out of the fridge and rest at room temperature.  The yeast will now slowly wake up and produce little bubbles of carbon dioxide in the dough.  If it is rested beyond 2 hours, you will end up with bread, so timing is important.  Just a slight 10% rise is enough to bring your Prata to the next level!  You will find with this dough that your stretch membrane will not be less transparent as the normal dough without yeast and is a little less resilient.  But the texture of the final Prata is crisp on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside and is especially good if you are planning to do Murtrabak as the layers inside will all be tender and fluffy.

Corned Beef, Eggs and Onion Murtabak.  What would you put in your Murtabak?

Conclusion

Once you have mastered how to make Prata, it is time to organize a Prata Party where you can invite your friends over to create new Murtabak (filled pratas) flavours!   Some of the ones that worked really well for me were beef burger and cheese, parmesan and sugar, Luncheon Meat, Egg and Onions and Cornbeef, Egg and Onions.You can really go crazy thinking of all the wonderful flavours that you can put into your Prata!

Daddy flipping Prata: Photo by Megan Tay 7 yrs old

Special for ieatishootipost readers

This year I started writing recipes which celebrates our Singaporean Heritage.  I like researching dishes which a lot of people feel are just too challenging to attempt and I try to delve into every single detail of the recipe so that anyone who wanted to make the dish will only need to read one article.  Part of the reason that I started on this cooking spree comes from having the CuisinArt Food Processor and KitchenAid Mixer which were sponsored by Mayer.  When you have solid machines to work with, it makes the research so much more enjoyable.  I used to make dough by hand and it was laborious.  With my KitchenAid and CuisinArt, I can make several batches of dough effortlessly which makes it possible for me to to make several batches of dough in order to fine tune the amount of ingredients in the recipe.

I have spoken with Mayer and they have kindly agreed to extend a very special price on their products for our readers. To enjoy the discount,  write to marketing@mayer.com.sg and let them know you are an ieatishootipost reader and ask for a quote.  Mayer carries a whole range of excellent kitchen products including ovens, coffee makers, ice cream makers etc.  You can check out their product line here.

Mayer is also sponsoring the upcoming Prata workshop in July but unfortunately it is already full.  If you would like to attend the next one, do write in the comments to express your interest. If there are enough participants, we will start planning the next Prata workshop soon.

You can visit the Mayer website at www.mayer.com.sg

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Mr Lim Kay Kong, the Director of Research and Development at Prima Flour Mills who was instrumental in helping me finalize the Prata recipe.  Thanks also to Soundman for helping to produce the Prata Flipping Instructional Video.

My Pandan Chiffon Cake and Tau Huay recipes can be found here

Please do write in and let me know how you went with your prata.  I would especially like to know if you were able to make yours even better!

Update:  15 Sep 2010
After playing with the recipe for a few months, I have slowly lowered the water content.  In the past, I used a 60% hydration, ie 600g flour to 360g water, I found that a 50% hydration is actually easier to handle.  So I have modified the recipe by decreasing the water.

* Footnote:  After the writing of this blog post, one of our readers wrote in with reference to an article from the wsj that states that the origins of the word Canai is most probably attributed to the Malay word "to stretch" rather than its place of origin. You can click here to read the article.

129 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow!u can be a prata man!

Camemberu said...

WOW! This is a lot of research and development! Thanks for sharing your full experience. I am going to try some of this.

I guess Chennai is part of the reason roti prata is known as roti canai in Malaysia...

Anonymous said...

Canai = Chennai..... now it all makes sense!!!

Haha thanks for the long post and research... I think the first time anyone has ever done such a detailed article on something we take for granted..

Camemberu said...

Hey just saw the tiny print under your prata flipping photo. That is a nice shot by Megan, so young! She can lift the 5DMkII?? :)

Beau Lotus said...

This post I like!

Roti prata is something I really miss and to be able to make it no matter where I am in this would would just be wonderful!!!

Merci beaucoup!

cactuskit said...

The popular chinese roti canai stallowener in Muar (city centre) told me yesterday that to practice flapping the pratas, get a thin piece of table cloth and cut it to round shape. Wet it and practice reverse palm flaps. It'll give good practice without wasting flour.

This is exciting. I definitely want to pick up how to make pratas as well. : )

ieat said...

Camemberu, yes Megan took the photos but the camera was on a tripod lah! All she needed to do was to click at the right moment! Do let me know how your prata went so that backlink it to your post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this!

Can you please clarify a couple of points?

1. Amount of water. On your Enriched and Leaner dough recipes, there is a difference in amount of water of 60ml. However, later on, you mentioned substituting condensed milk with 30ml of water. So I am a bit confused.

2. For the express dough version, I don't quite get how long do you process it for after the initial 20 minute rest. "On" for one minute, followed by 2 minute rest-- how many times?

Thanks once again!!!

Howie.

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting! Would like to inquire, however, if there's anything we have to take note of when frying the prata e.g. how much oil to add, when to flip :)

Abigail

ieat said...

Howie, thanks for your comments. I have edited the text so that it is clearer now.

Abigail, if you want a healthier prata, you can basically fry it without oil on a non stick frying pan on medium heat. If you want it crispy like the ones they sell outside then use lots of oil.

ieat said...

Howie, thanks for your comments. I have edited the text so that it is clearer now.

Abigail, if you want a healthier prata, you can basically fry it without oil on a non stick frying pan on medium heat. If you want it crispy like the ones they sell outside then use lots of oil.

zhouzi said...

Just for kick, go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWgFIRv7_cI&feature=related
to see the factory production.

Those who can't flip dough go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZskKJ06fC38&feature=related

chaozhouzi

sandra said...

this post has elevated your blog to the nth degree of awesomeness.

you rock!

ieat said...

My friend Cactuskit always reminds me that my love language is words of encouragement so I am very touched by your kind words!

Thanks very much. I wish you great success on your prata!

Huai Chien said...

An awesome piece of work you have there on your prata recipe post. Keep it up!

May I suggest your next 'howto' recipe project to be egg tarts (puff pastry crust)? Egg tarts certainly meet your criteria of being "too challenging to attempt". That will be something I really look forward to learning.

ieat said...

Thanks!

What type of egg tarts are you looking at Huai Chien?

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

oh gosh! this is a very very detailed entry for prata-making! u're incredible for going through all the research + hits & misses! kudos!

Ping said...

COol stuff, Doc! Thanks for going through all the trial and error for us so we can get a detailed recipe! Ah, I didn't know about the Prata workshop... Would have liked to attend the one in July since I'm only back till the end of July. Sayang... Am too late.

Ming Zhu said...

Les I thought normally the prata man will flip the dough and then fold it in like a square? cause I see you coil the dough up and flatten it..

ieat said...

Well there are a few ways of folding it after you flap it. Some fold it into a square like you mention. But if you want more layers, then the turban method is better for prata kosong. The egg version uses the folding method.

Christina said...

Will you be putting up your Slideshow on how to make the Dough ?

eatingsumo said...

I'm a new reader to your blog and I'm really impressed with your diligence in finding the perfect prata recipe!

ieat said...

Welcome eatingsumo!

Christina, the slideshow is in the middle of the blog.

ONEº17 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cactuskit said...

Eatingsumo, this guy is extremely driven. I've come to know that he never gives up. Once he sets his mind on something, he works at it with an obsession. Amazing fella. I've learned his pizza and Tau huay recipes and I regularly make them now. All who have tried them never fail to give thumbs up. I can only tell them that it's still inferior to what the guy that taught me makes. They cannot imagine.
Keep that attitude going Les, it's what makes you so special.

rayson.goh said...

Two thumbs up for all the efforts and recipes!! And yes, I can also confirm that prata does exists in India. I was in Madras and Bangalore for some time many years back. They call it 'parota' but their version is much less oily compared to ours. Goes best with their coffee as breakfast, freshly made with the freshest boiled milk (no water added) directly milked from the cow standing next to the stall. How cool is that :-)

liverpool1965 said...

good idea huai chien, egg tarts would be good!

cactuskit...should ask Les to manage Liverpool.... :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Les, I have tried your recipe. It tasted very good. Thanks. During the process, I have missed out letting the swirl dough rest before frying. End up getting a small round prata. Hahaha. Besides that, I have a question about when resting the ball dough overnight, do you need to cover them?

Regards,
Hawk from Perth

cactuskit said...

If he managed Liverpool, the players will all go fat! ; )

Ed said...

hi, can i find out whether u let the prata rest in the fridge or out at room temperature? :)

ieat said...

You can leave it overnight at room temperature. I usually put it in the fridge. The main reason for putting in the fridge is to keep it longer than overnight eg one or two days.

Anonymous said...

I have done it! Pretty yummy!Thanks. Encountered a couple of issues though.

1. The dough formed a slightly firm/dry coating after being left overnight, even though I did coat the ball with (a little) oil.

2. I found the ball rather difficult to flatten for the frying process! They keep wanting to shrink back, making the prata kind of thick!

Howie.

ieat said...

Thanks for your comments Howie! Glad to know that you have had some success!

Use clipwrap to cover the dough when you leave it overnight. I forgot to write this in the post and have added it. After you make it into a snail, just leave it for 5-10 minutes before flattening it. Resting the dough will make it easier to flatten.

Anonymous said...

I must say I did rest the dough after making the turban, but they remained very springy, and it is almost like having to bash them flat, just to get some semblance of being a flat bread! Don't know whether being in the cold winter kitchen has any bearing on it. BTW, I did it by hand kneading, so maybe also had something to do with it. Perhaps I overworked the dough? I probably would do some by the folding method instead of twirling, just to save some angst!

Another thing I would change the second time around is to divide the dough into smaller portions, making at least 12, or maybe even 14 prata. I found them a bit too big.

Any pointers with regards to frying? Low heat vs high heat? I also wonder how long the cooked prata will last in the fridge?

Howie

robert said...

Hi, great tutorial. Just by the way technically autolysis is carried out by adding water only to flour. when other ingredients such as salt are added it stops that particular process. What I think you are getting here is a first hydration and relaxation of the glutens.

ieat said...

Thanks robert. Yes I know that strictly speaking it should only be water and flour. But the word as been used quite loosely to mean the hydration and relaxation process. Do you think it would make a huge difference if I just mixed the water and flour first? I have been trying to figure out why they use the word Autolysis too. Any ideas?

Steve said...

Great detail, well done!

The Cooking Ninja said...

What a great post on roti prata! I'm glad I stumble upon your blog. I've been looking for a good recipe for a long time and your post explains lots of things that went wrong when I tried to make my own in FR. :) I'm going to make this for National Day for my family to eat now that I'm on home vacation. :) Thanks again for the detailed info and tips.

The Cooking Ninja said...

I was just thinking of adding yeast to the dough to get it fluffy when I read the last part of your post. Just thought of an idea - have you ever tried making prata using bread flour? It'll give you the gluten needed as well as fluffy taste and shorten the leavening time, no?

jack said...

Thanks for the extensive information ieat! I tried this yesterday and left dough overnite, but in the morning it wasn't stretchy. It was tough and kept springing back or breaking. I don't think being under 10degC in the house helped. I had to halve the recipe too and I had flour at 9% protein, so I added a tsp of gluten.

If the dough is tough and won't stretch, I'm thinking it might be a) not kneaded enough
b) not enough gluten
c) flour should be sifted
c) too much salt
d) not having a kneading tool and using the cutting blade to mix the dough.

any ideas?

back to the drawing board! Can't wait to perfect it.

ieat said...

I think you should try to change the type of flour you use and try to get something close to 10.8 percent. I think the problem lies in too much gluten.

Anonymous said...

Can you also post the a DIY recipe for Onion Uthappam ? It's quite tasty. Thanks !!

Soy said...

wow! Thanks so much for posting such an extensive write up on prata! Even though there is the frozen version readily available in Australia, there is nothing like making your own.

redroses79 said...

That was a pretty long, but I believe valuable, version of how to make roti prata. Although, am glad to have found your blog cos I have made a few attempts on making my own roti prata at home but without the "flipping" bit. This time, I am inspired to do the "flipping" after reading your blog, at least I should try it out :)
So far, my attempts at making my own prata didn't really go well. When I fry them, they didnt really fluff up as much and hence when I eat them the texture felt too thin and tough to eat and it tasted flat (although I did put some salt and sugar). I have been wondering since then what it is that I have missed, is the "flipping" part?? But then you can make good prata without flipping right? I have also already kneaded the dough with my bare hands for at least about 10 mins. But I have yet to try the mixer.
Also, will it taste as good to use the "Red Man" plain flour brands?
Another question, can we make a big batch and freeze the dough in the freezer?

ieat said...

Glad you are inspired to try again! No the flipping bit is not essential to creating a prata. Getting the dough right is the most important. There is only one flour mill in Singapore and that is Prima. Redman does not mill their own flour, but buys from millers like Prima, so yes, I guess their plain flour can be used. However, I rather just use Prima Plain Flour as it works for me and I know it is the same flour that the roti prata man uses.

Yes you can certainly freeze the dough. Just have to completely thaw it out before using.

Su-yin said...

Wow, I'm very impressed with your roti prata/roti canai! I've been craving for some, might have to give this recipe a go this weekend. In the spirit of Raya and all, you know...

Great post, super informative.

redroses79 said...

hey there again!
since my last comments, I have made dozens of prata! This time, I have used the mixer to knead better and also tried the "flipping" too (not expert yet, but getting there!). But the dough's texture is really good, cos I can easily thin it out. In the first few trys, I coiled the dough before frying but I find that the texture is slightly thick (but still good to eat). So in the last attempt I did, I folded the dough instead into a square, and I find that the texture is also good too. I discovered this technique from the Indian Prata man at one of the prata stalls recently, so I thought I'd give it a try.

But, anyhow, your method really works and kudos to you for putting alot of research to it! Thanks for sharing your recipe and technique. My family was impressed when they found out I knew how to make prata now! haha! Now, it's prata night every fortnight!

Chris said...

I have the same problem as a few others. My prata end up thick, brittle, and undercooked on the inside. I knead by hand using 10.2 flour. Rested overnight, but I don't think I rested long enough after coiling.

Before coiling, the dough was very stretchy and easy to work. After coiling, it was stiff and broke too easily. The prata were crumbly (though not as bad as my first attempt).

My wife and kids politely ate most of them (we are in France now, so even a horrible roti prata is welcomed!).

ieat said...

Try to get your hands on some Italian pizza flour with a 10% protein count. If it stretches for pizza, it should stretch for prata!

jimmy wong said...

hei leslie..
u really did a good job. isn't easy to make roti prata. it has been a long time i did not make roti prata. but i think i still can make it.

Choosing a right flour is really important. n u really make a good choice. This is the best flour among the competitor. Trust me. we used roti prata making to test on flour extensibility n elasticity before the flour release to the market.

Elena said...

I'm really excited to try this out but have a quick question . . . is the condensed milk sweetened or unsweetened?

ieat said...

Its sweetened. Let us know how it goes!

Elena said...

LOVED IT! Especially with butter . . . do you mind if I blog about my experience making this and link to your blog? Thanks!

ieat said...

That would be wonderful! Thanks for your support!

toru said...

nice post - but the part about canai meaning bread from chennai is probably wrong. Chennai has not been used for several centuries and it is only lately that madras was re-named chennai.

ieat said...

If that were true, how do we explain where the name Roti Canai came from?

Anyway, I think the locals still call it Chennai even though the British called it Madras.

toru said...

See here http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1548-1425.2010.01248_16.x/full

The locals used to called the town Chinnapattinam. The use of the term Chennai was only in 1996. So there goes the theory roti canai = roti from chennai.

I have no idea where canai originated and have always wondered why it is called roti canai in malaysia and roti prata in singapore. One theory floating on the Internet is that canai comes from the word Channa which is a kind of chick pea curry. But then in Malaysia, the roti is eaten with dhal - so that theory is not convincing either.

ieat said...

According to wikipedia, the town that grew around Fort St.George was called Chennaipattinum, which was shortened to Chennai and has been around since 1640. So I think my theory of Roti Chennai being named after Chennai may still be valid.

toru said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124893513501192849.html

According to this food historian, canai is the Malay word for 'to stretch or push something pliable or elastic.'

ieat said...

Hi Toru,

Thanks for the article. Its a pity I did not manage to read it when I was preparing for this post. I have added a footnote with a link to the article.

prisneo said...

Just two weeks ago, a couple of my friends here in Sydney, all came from Singapore and Malaysia just craving for Roti Canai that we went to Matak here to eat. And it was so costly to get Roti Canai with Plain curry up to A$75 for 6 adults, 1 child and 2 babies.

Should have discover your blog on Roti Prata earlier. Wish me luck as I try out this recipe as we are going to have a roti prata party together with chicken curry & Satay in slightly more than a week's time.

ieat said...

All the best! If you can't get your hands on Prima Plain flour, then try using pizza flour.

prisneo said...

Just need to clarify a step before I start on making my 1st attempt of roti prata.

In your slideshow, you mentioned about mixing all the wet ingredient together, do we add in the 1 tsp salt and 1 tbsp sugar and 15ml oil as well together with the egg into the water? I am making the leaner version

Thank you.

prisneo said...

Thank you, ieat. Just pan-fried my 1st attempt of roti prata and both my 7 year-old and 15 month-old boys have been asking for more.

Thank you for this yummy recipe. Will add your link to my blog.

ieat said...

Now you can add some interesting ingredients like cheese! Glad your boys like it.

Anonymous said...

Hi ieat, I'm so glad I found your site to making prata in such detail especially regarding the ingredients & method. Like you, I spent hours on the internet searching. Thanks to you, now I can have a go at making it & hopefully it'll turn out successfully.
Thanks so much again......keencook

ieat said...

All the best Keencook!

Anonymous said...

Hi, i just stumbled into this webpost- but this recipe looks like it is influenced from another sourthern state- kerala. we call it kerala porotta - the manner of making is exactly the same- chk it out- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyKvpUvl4uY&feature=related
- nice to see the universality of this recipe:)

ieat said...

Yes, in fact, the Italians have a pizza like it too and the Greek Filo pastry is also similar.

Anonymous said...

you can see all smiles now! now i can make my own pratas at home. thank you so much for the post, you did the research which im suppose to do. lets flip more prata!

ieat said...

That's wonderful!

Anonymous said...

You are a genius. I live here in the US and we don't have this bread. I've tried several times to make this thing--all failed. With the info you provided, I will scientifically follow the method. Thanks again, sir.

Anonymous said...

Just a few questions before I start.

1) Oil? any particular type--vegetable, corn, mazola, olive, walnut, ????

2) egg? I'm assuming a regular chicken egg--white and yolk mixed?

Sorry, but scientific means scientific.

This guy is malaysian and it's just added info:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H16h7zQy5mo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-wA0HLNnmY

ieat said...

Any type of oil is good. If you use melted margarine, then your dough will be more stable when in the fridge.

Yes, whole egg.

Good Luck!

Amrita said...

thanks a million ieat - i've spent years looking for a roti cani recipe, tried out a few, but they never turned out like the malaysian restaurants!! i want to thank you so very much for the detail and research you've done and i can't wait to try this out. can i add a little extra condensed milk if i want to?? you are amazing - thanks again.

ieat said...

Thanks for your comment Amrita! I do have the condensed milk recipe in the blog. You can certainly add more condense milk and lessen the water but it is not 1 to 1. If you add 10ml Condense milk, take off 5ml of water.

Amrita said...

thanks again ieat. the rotis i have eaten at malaysian restaurants are a bit sweet and i like that. a couple more questions ieat. i live in canada and the plain flour packs sold here say 4g protein per 30 g flour. would this be okay? also i too have experienced the roti shrinking back when i try to flatten it before frying. i did shape it into a turban and let it rest for a while. any suggestions on how to over come that?? thanks again. i am so glad i stumbled on to your site.

ieat said...

Hi Amrita,

Actually its hard to tell just from the protein level. 11% is what is usually the level here. You just need to ask for normal pizza flour and it should do well.

As for the shrinking, just let it rest longer.

Anonymous said...

hi, i am from chennai (which was called Madras till lately) which is the capital of a state called TamilNadu in India. We call this dish PAROTTA here. If you google it or search it in youtube, it will be raining with videos and tips and tricks. This recipe has evolved so much over the years with various stuffings and flavours. Nice to see your blog and the passion to describe it. During my recent visit to singapore, i did have a taste of it (both frozed and fresh). It does taste quite different from what we have here. Please do google for KOTHU PARTOTTA which is a spicier version of prata along with mutton or chicken and that is literally minced along with prata on the frying pan itself. It is a treat to watch the chef prepare this dish in style, Everything is just massacared on the frying pan and what u get is a lovely flaky dish that will make you want for more..Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Wow Million Thanks for sharing such a heritage secret recipe with everyone!! Just watched your program un Channel U:) I'm going to attempt the recipe very son with my hubby! Makes one hungry already even at 1am! haha.

Btw may I ask what's the brand of your British curry powder please? TQ!!!

L

Wendy said...

Saw ur stint on Ladies Night. Muz say I'm really impressed...Ur prata turned out really fine...It's a feat! But what truly impressed AND amazed me most was the obvious dedication n passion u put into mastering the prata. Becos of ur hard work, we readers get 2 try it out at home. Yeah, u bet...I'll be making prata following ur instructions some time soon. Anxious but very excited too! Lastly, where can I get the England Curry powder in Sg? Or any curry powder will do? Seriously, is there any difference in taste? Also, u mentioned for the recipe w/o condensed milk to replace with 40ml of water, then shdn't ur water vol in tat recipe b 310ml? Thanks!!

Amrita said...

hi ieat, i'm still struggling to find the right flour because of how the ingredients are shown. i have managed to find an italian store that sells "pizza flour" with a protein content of 7.5% in 10.5 grams. you mention 10.8% - is this for the entire 25kg bag?? please advise. i don't want to attempt this feat without the right flour, as you've explained its importance to a successful roti!!

ieat said...

Thanks for your comments! The Curry powder I use is Waugh's. You can get it in Golden Mile Complex. The flour is Prima Plain Flour which is branded as Ikan Terbang flour which is what all the Roti Prata in Singapore uses.

ieat said...

That sounds about right Amrita. But can't you get it in 1kg bags?

Amrita said...

hi ieat - yes, it is in a 1 kg bag, but only 7.5% protein - not 10.8%. should i keep looking for 10.8%? i have been to several speciality stores even, but nothing with 10.8%.

Towkay said...

tried this recipe out and have some cooks notes to share:

a larger piece of dough is easier to work with since it has more weight to help flip.

the motion to me feels like slamming the dough, so it is good for it to be wetter to adhere when it slaps onto the surface.

the constant regrabbing of the edges is key to getting a uniform thickness. it is easy to thin the center but not the edges.

the enemy of good is perfection. you have one shot at stretching the dough. once it is stretched it cannot be reshaped into a ball and reworked! so if you have thicker edges just cut them off and use the thin central portion.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr Tay, I tried the Enriched version. I really like the sweetness from the condensed milk. The prata was crispy and very fragrant but mine lacked the layers and it was not fluffy on the insides like yours. I wonder if under kneading will lead to a less fluffy prata? I tried the turban style as well as the square ones and the turban ones didn't puff up while cooking so it came out really hard. Maybe I didn't roll it correctly. Will try again soon! Thank you so much for your recipe and research!
Cheers,
Butterfingers hazel

ieat said...

Did you squish it after frying it? Usually after frying, you put it on the table top and crush the prata between your hands to make it fluffy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! U have certainly help me a lot for my home economics cooking!

AJ@Kampong said...

Yay! Looks yummy. I would want to try this at home. Thank you for sharing your Roti Prata food experience. ;)

The Observer said...

Thanks for sharing your extensive knowledge on the prata. We tried it a couple of times now (without condensed milk version), as in almost every weekend. We live in the Nordics so we don't get too much selection of about everything (unless it is a rye product). Wondering if a rye prata would work. Our flour is up to 12% protein but the recipe still works, though we noticed that we need about 30 to 50g more flour but the dough still works out fine. The other issue is water. Water in the Nordics is pretty "hard" and full of minerals hence coffee tastes horrible here.
We had to use boiled water. Another reason is also because the place is too far up north and room temperature is in the 10 to 15 deg C range. Not sure if that has an effect on the dough?
We also tried making paper prata with the recipe and it works as well (a 50 or 60g piece, stretched as much as possible).
Trying the condensed milk version tomorrow!

ieat said...

Glad to know that you are enjoying the prata recipe! Not sure how cold water will affect the dough. But so long as you are happy with the prata then good for you! Rye doesn't have gluten so it might not be able to stretch that well. May have to mix it with flour. Not sure as I have never played with Rye flour.

The Observer said...

Condensed milk version dough was tougher to flip but the family taste buds favour it so that means I keep my prata man job for now. I will try mixing some rye in and give it a try next week.

We tried mixing fresh basil and oregano (finely chopped) once and pizza herbs another time. Both works well, makes flipping a bit tougher but has a nice aromatic smell. It's my fusion prata. LOL. You might want to give it a go since you are already a master flipper!

ieat said...

If I were to do a pizza prata, I would simply drizzle olive oil and sprinkle some herbs into the prata after it is fipped and fold in the herbs! More versatile that way. Truffle oil works wonders as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr Tay,

I can't finish the 600g dough (tried 2x) so I would like to make smaller portion. If I were to make a 300g portion, how shall i reduce proportionaly on the rest of the ingredients?

thanks,
SC

ieat said...

Make the whole batch. Keep half in the freezer as balls. Defrost overnight next time you want prata.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this entire article.For what it's worth, though, I doubt the term 'Roti Canai' is derived from the word Chennai. As I understand it, Chennai was previously Madras. The verb '(to) canai' in Malay means 'to knead and shape'. So my notion is that 'Roti Canai' is Malay for 'roti that's kneaded and shaped'. A linguist or historian on names of cities might want to correct me.

Breadfan said...

I decided to call myself Breadfan so I won't confuse myself with the myriad 'Anonymous'. I commented on Nov 7 about the possible origin of the adjective 'Canai' qualifying 'roti' as in 'roti canai'. Just adding a bit of info here - the Malay verb '(to) canai' may also be applied to the action of shaping metal implements such us keris, knives and various utensils. So 'canai' probably refers to the process rather than the supposed place of origin.

ieat said...

Hi Breadfan, great that you are using a penname! Love to hear more from you. Yes, I heard that theory from some people, others say that it is named after Chennai which was their original name before it became Madras under British rule. If you can find a reference for your theory, pls let me know.

sandra sim said...

Leslie, your recipe and detailed demonstration had been phenomenal, it makes making roti canai at home so easy (with your foolproof way). Hope to get a flapping crash course from you one day. Anyhow, I've credit your blog on my post.

Thanks!

ieat said...

Thanks Sandra. Glad you had good success!

mabel said...

dear leslie,

i just came back from switzerland and been dying there for a prata... if i knew u have a blog on prata i would have tried doing there... and so i came abt knowing yr blog cos i was watching channel U late night repeats and came on this yr blog, but realised yr blog on prata didnt show the recipes for the blueberry cheese filling and the curry chicken dip and the cheeseburger filling... i wonder if its on other post..?

i enjoyed yr blog and in a way u helped people like me in far away places by experimenting difficult recipes like this. Thank you and looking forward to yr reply :) x

ieat said...

Hi Mabel,

Thanks for your comment. The blog post was written way before the Channel U program and I only came up with those simple recipes for the Channel U program. I don't intend to post them up cos they are really nothing special.

cactuskit said...

Finally trying out tonite! Thks for teaching me, Les : )

AJ@ Roti Prata SG said...

Yay! Looks yummy. I would want to try this at home. Thank you for sharing your best roti prata in Singapore food experience. ;)

ceri west said...

I am opening a satay roti bar in Palma de Mallorca in spain. I go back to SIngapore after 40 years when I grew up in Changi. This time I am going to learn how to cook authentic satay and Roti Canai. This article is absolutily fantastic and has given me such an insight. Thank you so much for all your info answering all the questions I already had even before my visit.

ieat said...

Ah you are most welcome! Make sure you use Ghee for most authentic flavour!

ceri west said...

Panik...The chef who was going to teach me satay roti and some other classics has cancilled the class...arriving on wednesday for 6 days and now I have this big dilehma of finding an alternative, any suggestions would be most most welcome. Still glad I have the insight from your blog. Best wishes from Mallorca Ceri

Nancy said...

Great instruction! I just made Roti Prata today for the first time and it turned out really yummy. I'm American of Swedish descent, so if I can make it anyone can:-). Made the dough into 12 balls and didn't try to twirl it just did the "5 yr old can do it" version.

Prata is one of our favorite foods that we enjoy when visiting Singapore, so it was fun to find your post and make it so "easily"!

Niv said...

Wow! Thank you for posting this. I always wanted to learn how to do this. It would seem that quite a bit of research has gone into this tutorial. Kudos.

Sunwukong said...

Great work! I liked your precise approach to this subject. This has cleared up many of the questions I had after my first batch of homemade prata last week. Thank you.

Edith said...

Thank you Dr Tay for providing such a comprehensive write up as well as a very useful video on this. I made this twice as I forgotten to rest the dough for 20 mins the first time.

My kids gave a thumb up for this and thank you once again for the hardwork and generiousity in sharing.

Now I am confident to try the tender version.

Here is a write up on my attempt. http://preciousmoments66.blogspot.sg/2012/10/last-one.html

Thanks.

ieat said...

Your pratas look perfect! Well done!

trtm said...

Hi, I really enjoyed the post you have written. The pratas are looking good. YUM! Just wondering, is it possible to flip a prata to be as huge as like 12" and still taste as good?

ieat said...

I guess it is possible but there is no reason to!

sc said...

hi Dr Tay. I trIed the enriched version. I find it bland n dry. I prefer fluffy n sweet type. I pan fried on tefal pan w a bit if oil. I din puff it after pan fry. would it make a diff. was disappointed. what went wrong? thanks. sc

ieat said...

Unfortunately Roti Prata is not health food, so there needs to be enough oil or it will be dry. Make sure that when you flap the prata, you dab the insides with some oil, butter or ghee before folding. Then fry it in the pan. Also, the puffing up after frying is very important! Good luck!

terratree Higgins said...

Thanks heaps ieat !!
Have been looking for a DIY Roti recipe for some time - thought it was too hard.

Really miss the double egg and onion murtabaks from Singas, hopefully i can show my kids what its all about.

Regards

ieat said...

Glad you like the recipe! All the best for your Murtabak!

Jun Barretto said...

Thank you for sharing all the techniques ! What is the best drink to prepare to compliment the roti prata ?

ieat said...

Why Teh Tarik, of course! http://ieatishootipost.sg/2011/09/how-to-make-teh-tarik-as-much-as-you.html

PC said...

Hi, thank you for sharing your parta recipe.
For overnight fermentation of the roti prata dough, do you keep dough in the fridge?

Thanks

ieat said...

Yes indeed you can!

Faeez said...

Thks for the sharing. I've tried your recipe & I'm very happy with it! I've also shared your recipe & my prata-making journey in my blog. Thks again!

Unknown said...

Thank You for the Roti Prata instructions. We used to live in Sg and miss the street food so much. Today we had home made Roti Prata with veg curry sauce for breakfast. Fantastic! (for a first go anyway!) Thanks again
HP

ieat said...

You are most welcome!

la;kshflkashdfl;kadshf;lkadshf said...

Thank you for this wonderful and detailed instructions and descriptions of making roti prata!

akitchencat said...

I am so glad I found your blog! You are doing what I've always wanted to do, demystifying the food that is nearest and dearest to my heart. The kind of food that we always just go and buy, because we can - though, well I can't now because I've moved to Australia.

Can't wait to try making roti on the weekend! I'll be looking to buy your book too, it looks amazing.

Alfiza Rahman said...

I think you can work in a Southern India making Roti Prata

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