Food from Malaysia: Roti Canai

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ May 26th, 2011. Updated on May 30th, 2012. Published in: Travel blog » Food around the world » Malaysian food.
Roti Canai from Malaysia

Roti Canai from West Malaysia, simply amazingly good

Roti Canai, one of the best travelers breakfasts ever …

I like big filling breakfasts. The type of food that will keep me going throughout a long morning, or even into the afternoon. In South East Asia this has been a big problem for me as breakfasts are usually quite light.

And, the bread in South East Asia is … well, not the best in the traditional sense of what bread should be. However, if you like your breads, light, sweet, and full of air then you’ll be happy.

Roti Canai was my savior for breakfast in Pakistan, India, Nepal, and now again in Malaysia.

If you’ve been following me on twitter, you’ll often see me ranting about roti’s in the morning.

Where does roti canai come from?

Roti means bread in Hindi, and is very popular in North India.

Chennai is a city in India where the term canai is believed to have come from. Chickpeas and a dhal (lentil curry) are very common here.

Hence, we have roti canai.

How is roti canai made?

The roti is a mix of flour, egg and lots of ghee. Ghee is a form of clarified butter, and not the healthiest of things, but so good as most of these things are.

The dough is kneaded, folded, beaten, stretched, and flattened several times over. Before being places on an oiled metal skillet. An impressive thing to watch.

The end result is a wonderful bread that’s very soft inside, and crispy on the outside.

Canai, is a mix of curry’s and lentil style dhals. Each one seems to vary depending on the restaurants mood on the day.

What does Roti canai taste like?

Wonderful. The bread is so fresh, it’s easily torn apart between a thumb and a finger on the same hand. Eaten alone it’s eggy, and slightly buttery. Dipped, as it should be, into one of the curries or dhals it soaks up the liquid which adds a fantastic array of flavors to the palate.

At between 1 and 2 ringgit it’s as cheap as it comes for a very filling breakfast in Malaysia. Ask your hotel reception where the nearest, and best roti canai place is. You won’t be disappointed!

This is an additional article featuring food from West Malaysia

Liked this post?

Never miss a post!

Enter your email address:


31 Great responses to Food from Malaysia: Roti Canai

  1. Lya says:

    Roti Canai at Transfer Road, Penang is one of the most superb taste. Eat with the meat.. Nyum2.. :p

  2. Looks good! I am currently in Malaysia for a few weeks, I should check this out! :)

  3. Juno says:

    I love Roti Canai! I tried different types of Roti, but plain roti was the best. Ahhhh I miss it!!

  4. ciki says:

    tastes damn bloody good, that’s how it tastes!! haha. Gonna go get me some NOW!

  5. Magda says:

    I aboslutely love roti chanai. I spent a year in Malaysia a few years ago and it was my favourite breakfast. Not very good for the figure though ;)

  6. Veenster says:

    Ah, another winning dish from Kassim Mustafa? Plain wicked – in a good way, of course – but still, wicked! :D

  7. Kristina says:

    Ah, you get me with the food! I love any kind of bread product and I do love me some roti. I’m starting to think a return to Malaysia (not enough time on my RTW) is in order.

  8. Liv says:

    For proper Malay style breakfast (as opposed to Chinese noodles or porridge): one roti, one nasi lemak, share a murtabak, washed down MiloPeng or my favourite Msian everyday drink – chilled chrysanthemum tea “air bunga”.

    There are sweet variations too of plain roti, great for dessert.
    I’ve had it dipped in sugar – as in tear piece, dip in sugar bowl and eat.
    And dusted with milo and drowned in condensed milk (heart attack dish).

    • Whoa, that’s a lot of food! I can’t handle rice for breakfast. Air Bunga is good though! So’s the lime ping!

      I’ve had roti in with condensed milk, I hear you with the heat attack!! I really walked a lot that day and felt the guilt!

  9. Lya says:

    Maliia Bakery, Penang (Opposite of the Roti Canai, Transfer Road, Penang) famous with Roti Benggali.. white bread with thick brown crust. The inside of the bread is pure white and fluffy like cotton. Eat it by dipping it in thick spicy soup, chicken curry or using a spread mix of butter and kaya.

    People in Penang are familiar with the scenario of an Indian bread man peddling his bread and homemade kaya for as long as we can remember. This is another reason why food in Penang is so unique. :D

    • Thanks for all those great tips. I must admit, Penang bread is also some of the best in South East Asia. I had an interesting chat with a few people about just why Penang makes and create food that tastes just so good! Inconclusive answers! Maybe it’s best that way! :)

  10. iamthewitch says:

    Yes make no mistake, roti canai is the BEST bread ever!!!

  11. Ivy says:

    now, … are you thinking of returning to “western civilization”, (like some people like to call it,) after having eaten the best food in the world and seeing beautiful things elsewhere? ;)

  12. Canai – hmmm…. definitely one of my favorites.

  13. Siti says:

    You make me want to run home now to get roti canai !!! Missing roti canai so much ! You are killing me with this entry !!!

  14. Sabina says:

    Oh, I love Roti so much! I ate it practically each day, in many different variations, while I was in Melaka There was just so much Indian food around. I hunger for it now in Israel, but there’s not any Indian food anywhere around where I’m at. When I go to Tel Aviv in a week or so I’m going to look for some.

  15. Steph says:

    Mmmm, that looks delicious. I love eating local foods when I’m travelling. About a month ago, I was munching on huge ants in Colombia. You’ve been to some really interesting places – different places. I’ll be back :)

  16. James Clark says:

    My favourite breakfast in the world. Oh I miss it.

  17. Rebecca says:

    Yum, love roti! Particularly with a nice thick peanut satay sauce to go with it!

  18. hayadith says:

    when i was little roti canai was so cheap, from 50 cent to 60 cent, then 80 cent ..n now teh average price is rm 1..

    i was born, and roti canai is already is like my morning staple food. have u tried teh tarik (stretch tea) ?

  19. Jack says:

    Exactly… this is originated in India and here we call it Nan Curry. This special roti is baked in a tandoor stuffed with grilled paste of onion, potatoes and other ingredients. These are mor healthies then a roti baked on gas stoves. Well.. have to go, hungry!

  20. Jack says:

    For sure I will be back time and again! Thanks to you!

  21. lara dunston says:

    Yum! This is one of my favourites. We tasted some of the best roti and curry we’ve tasted outside Malaysia recently at ‘Nyonya’ (no, it’s not a typo) in Perth, Australia, recently. Just sublime! Loved it so much we went back a second time, which is very rare for us.