Roti Jala is a popular Malaysian crepe. Milk, turmeric powder, eggs, and flour are the main ingredients of this traditional net bread. Roti Jala means net bread, and the lacy or net-like design of the crepe is inspired by the fishing net of Malaysian fishermen.
A well-made Roti Jala is delicate and tender. Never let it become brown or crispy. With only a few ingredients, it is easy to make. You can make it vegetarian or gluten-free. As Roti Jala is small in size, it is often served in sets of three or four pieces when accompanied by curries, but it can also be eaten on its own.
Although it is called roti (bread), it is more like crepes in texture. Due to its net-like appearance, this pancake is different from the typical pancake. They can be rolled logs or triangles. French crepes are much harder to make than this recipe.
The snack is commonly served warm with curries, such as potato and chicken curry, caramelized beef curry, and spicy beef floss. It goes well with a cup of tea, too. Malaysians make Roti Jala at weddings and birthdays as a food party. The dish is especially popular during Aidil Fitri (Eid) and traditional Kenduri (Malay feast).
Roti are made with crepe batter and dispensed through a special Roti Jala dispenser, a special cup with five nozzles that are moved in an overlapping circular motion to produce the net or lacy patterns on the pan. It becomes problematic when you don’t live in Malaysia, and the dispenser isn’t available anywhere. It’s time to make your own dispenser, follow the recipe, and learn how to make Roti Jala and the dispenser.
To prepare the batter, combine the Coconut-flavored Milk and water and stir well to mix. Add the flour, turmeric powder, and salt to a medium bowl and mix well. In another clean bowl, whisk the eggs, add 1/3 of coconut milk and water mixture and whisk using a hand mixer. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, and whisk. Add the remaining coconut milk and flour to the mixture and mix well until you run out of them. Cover the bowl, and let the batter rest for 20 minutes. If you are using a blender, put everything into a blender (except for cooking oil) and blend until you get a smooth batter.
Transfer the prepared batter to the dispenser and set it aside. Place a non-stick pan over medium heat. Spray some cooking oil over the cooking surface.
Gently squeeze the batter onto the pan. To create a net-shaped crepe, start from the side of the pan, in an up and down motion, and then move to the top of the pan and left and right motion. Cook it for about 2 minutes over low-medium heat. Use a rubber spatula to remove the net crepe onto a dish. Cover the crepe to keep them warm while cooking the rest of the crepes. Serve warm and enjoy.
The key to making a beautiful net is to move the cup constantly so you do not end up with a big blob in the pan resembling a regular pancake.
If you do not have the special dispenser, you can use an empty mineral water bottle with a few holes on the cover/cap that can be made with a nail. Do not make too many holes, it would ruin the look of your net. Five to seven holes will be enough. Do not make the holes too big as that would also ruin your crepes.
Cook the net crepe until it is pale in color and then transfer it onto a plate. Do not let it get too brown, because you will end up with a dry Roti Jala, and it will break when you fold it later. Cover the crepes and store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To make vegan Roti Jala, omit the eggs and use 125 milliliters of coconut milk and 150 milliliters of water as liquid.
You can use gluten-free all-purpose flour to replace the regular all-purpose flour used in this recipe. If you are making a gluten-free Roti Jala, you don’t need to rest the batter because there is no gluten in it.