Hot, Hot Roti Canai, Book Feature, and Giveaway!

Roti CanaiRoti Canai (pronounced as “chanai”), also known as roti paratha, is a type of flatbread found in Malaysia. It was introduced into the country by Indian immigrants and over time became a national dish. People of all races there enjoy roti canai and it is very, very popular, eaten throughout the day. I grew up eating this delicious bread and missed it when I moved to the US. It was a joy to find the bread at the frozen section of the South Asian grocery stores. If you look carefully at my blog logo, there is a neat pile of roti canai on the lower right hand corner. 😎

When Rachael of Lee & Low Books, a children’s book publisher, invited me to do a roti recipe and book feature on “Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji”, it put a BIG smile on my face. The title of the book resonated well with the name of my blog. Roti n Rice coupled with Hot, Hot Roti, how exciting!

Roti Canai
Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is written by F. Zia, a writer and elementary school teacher who grew up in Hyderabad, India. This is her first picture book, written as a gift to her grandchildren. What a wonderful way to share a culture and a little bit of her past with the future generations! She did a wonderful job of weaving a fable from a faraway land with contemporary suburban Western life as evident in the final part of the story.

This book is fully illustrated by Ken Min, an animation storyboard artist. The drawings are vivid and imaginative, conveying the text beautifully. They make the story come alive and keep you turning the pages for more.

The story is a heart warming one about Aneel, whose grandparents from India came to stay. Spurred by Dada-ji’s rousing tales of his roti-powered feats in his youth, Aneel was eager to find out if his grandfather still has those powers. Not being able to persuade his family to help him, he found a way to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti himself for Dada-ji. Did the roti rekindle Dada-ji’s strength? This is a fun book to read along with your little ones. Even my two teenage sons found the book entertaining. :)

The good people at Lee & Low Books have generously offered a copy of this book as a giveaway to one of my US readers. This book will only hit the bookshelves in May 2011. To win an early copy, please leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite childhood food. For those of you who are new here, you would make my day if you can follow me via Google Connect on my sidebar, Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, or subscribe to my RSS Feed. Thank you so much for visiting and following. This giveaway will be opened until 9:00pm central time on Thursday, April 7th, 2011. I will randomly pick a winner and the book will be sent directly to you from the publisher.

******************* THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED *******************

Roti Canai

Time to bring out the tavva (Indian flat griddle)! I made my own ghee (clarified butter) for this roti as it does make a whole lot of difference to the taste, aroma, and flakiness of the bread. Ghee can also be purchased at the Indian grocery stores. You can certainly use vegetable oil if you prefer.

Roti Canai
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 rotis
  • 3 cups (450g) bread flour
  • 1Β½ cups (360ml) warm water
  • Β½ cup (120ml) ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of flour and pour in ghee. Mix with a spatula adding water a little at a time until a soft sticky dough forms. Turn onto a lightly oiled surface and knead with oiled hands until a smooth and soft dough forms, about 5 to 7 minutes. Divide dough into 6 equal portions. With oiled hands shaped into balls. Wrap dough loosely with cling wrap and allow to rest for 4 to 5 hours.
Flinging or Spreading (tebar) Method
  1. This method is known as menyebar which means spreading. It takes a lot of practise but it is also quite fun. I ruined my first one and had to use the rolling pin method to salvage it.
  2. Lightly oil working surface and hands with ghee. Flatten a ball of dough with your palm. Lift dough facing you with the right hand on the top and left hand on the bottom of dough. Fling dough to the left to spread it out. Do this several times until dough is very thin. Fold dough into thirds and then half lengthwise, into a rope, trapping some air if possible. Holding down one end, create a spiral with the dough, tucking the other end into the center. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Rolling Pin Method
  1. This method is definitely easier but the dough will not be as thin as the flinging method. Still it was pretty good.
  2. Lightly oil working surface and hands with ghee. Flatten a ball of dough with rolling pin and continue to roll until dough is very thin. Fold dough into thirds and then half lengthwise, into a rope, trapping some air if possible. Holding down one end, create a spiral with the dough, tucking the other end into the center**. Repeat with the remaining dough.

  3. Heat a tavva fry pan with some ghee. Stretch out prepared dough by pressing with the tips of your fingers on work surface into 7-inch rounds. Place on hot tavva or pan and fry till golden brown on both sides. It takes about 3 minutes for each side. Fluff up fried roti by whacking it with both hands coming together on a flat surface.
  4. Serve immediately with some Dhal Curry.
**Most people just fold the spread out dough into a square and place it immediately on a hot fry pan or griddle. I like the spiral method better as it creates beautiful layers in the roti.

Oh yes, I do have a tavva and it worked nicely on my electric ceramic stove! :)

Serve immediately with some dhal curry or chicken curry. Dada-ji likes it with tongue-burning mango pickle! :)

Roti Canai
Disclaimer: Although a copy of this book was sent to me for free, I did not receive any monetary compensation for this write up. What was written are my personal thoughts and view. For full disclaimer, please click here.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎

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  1. Jeannie says

    Wow! Your roti canai looks even better than those made by the roti sellers in the local restaurants here:D

    • Biren says

      Aww Jeannie…so sweet of you to say that. I was really pleased it turned out well. The family enjoyed it and is requesting I make it again. :)

  2. says

    Biren, you made your own prata. That is awesome, looks exactly like the frozen prata I bought at the supermarket. I’ve never thought of using the rolling pin to make prata before. Thumbs Up!!

    • Biren says

      Ann, this was so much fun. Flinging the dough was very challenging but it became better once I got the hang of it. Will have to continue to practise so that I can get it even larger and thinner.

      We can also buy the frozen ones here but I thnik I’ll make my own sometimes as it was quite fun. Gives me a chance to practise the flinging. :)

  3. says

    God bless the Tamilians and their contribution of roti praata to Singaporean and Malay cuisine. you know I need no convincing..I could eat yours everyday (just about) till the day I die Biren!! :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

    • Biren says

      Yes, most definitely! Their contribution to the cuisine in that part of the world has made it so much more spicy, fiery, and interesting.

  4. says

    How amazing, who better suited suited to review this new book then Roti and Rice..I love when authors work to perserve their culture, to pass wonderful traditions to the next generations..great post and the roti look amazing!!
    tweeted this!!
    have a great weekend!
    ps, thanks for stopping by new latina, it really meant alot!

  5. says


    Please count me out of this giveaway as I’m Canadian and not qualified. How sweet of you to share your roti canai recipe with us to help promote this book. I never knew these were made in spirals as you showed in your pictures. Such a wonderful step by step tutorial, Biren. Your roti canai turned out beautifully. I really must stop reading your blog early in the morning. It makes me think of mouth water foods all day. Have a lovely weekend. Best of luck to all your US participants.

    • Biren says

      Sorry about that LeQuan. I’ll have future giveaways open to everyone. These rotis were fun to make not to mention that the ghee kept my hands nice and soft for the rest of the day. Great moisturizer!

  6. Lucy says

    please enter me in for the book giveaway! to be honest, my favorite childhood meal WAS roti canai :) we lived in the US, though, so it was a special treat whenever we went back to Malaysia… I remember eating more than my Aunts thought a small little girl could :) Or how proud I was the day I moved up to roti telur (but only one, all the extra protein was a lot to eat!), as well as being playfully teased by the man who cooked the pratha as I waited, big-eyed, for my delicious meal. Thank you for the chance :)

    • Biren says

      Ghee is made by simmering butter until all the water (moisture) in the butter has been boiled off. The milk solids will sink while the scum will float to the top. Whatever remains after straining is fat or oil. Ghee is widely used in Indian cuisine. You can buy bottled ghee at the Indian grocery stores.

    • Biren says

      Some of the Malaysian Indian community did originate from Malabar bringing their wonderful curries and roti with them. Over time, this cuisine has spread to the other races in Malaysia.

  7. says

    This roti canai looks incredible! Thank you so much for the step by step instructions and photos on the rolling, I would definitely love to try to make this for 5 Star Foodie Jr.!

    • Biren says

      Aww…that would be so nice. I certainly hope you will do it with 5 Star Foodie Jr and I look forward to seeing the post. She is one talented young lady! :)

  8. says

    I know this roti must be delicious because I started drooling immediately upon seeing the picture. Now you’ve got me craving spicy indian food at 8 AM!

  9. says

    We make this it Kerala Parotta :-) and this has been my all time fav ,right from the time I can remember πŸ˜€
    That’s a lovely giveaway :-)

  10. says

    I’ve been experimenting with Indian flatbreads lately – I just picked up a big bag of atta flour. I’ll definitely use the tips here to put the atta to use!

  11. Tim Wong says

    My favorite childhood food was roti canai. When I was young, my mom, sister and I would ride our bicycles out in the morning to get fresh produce from the market and stop by the nearest roti canai shop to “tapau” roti canai and dhal curry home for breakfast. I’d love to win this book now that I’m in the US and can’t get my 60sen fix of roti canai anywhere.

    • Biren says

      I can just picture the scene. Never needed to make our own as it was so easily available and inexpensive yet so delicious!

  12. Maria says

    My favorite childhood food has to be dumpling soup. It was a family tradition that was passed down from my great grandmother. It wasn’t the traditional Jewish dumpling soup, but an Italian spin on it. Totally tasty. :)

  13. says

    Very impressive! I cannot live without roti prata *sigh* My boys LOVE it and make easy work of 4 or 5 each! I’m hardly better myself as I need at least 3 to be satisfied πŸ˜€ You did a beautiful job of making these yourself. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

  14. says

    Very impressive! I cannot live without roti prata *sigh* My boys LOVE it and make easy work of 4 or 5 each! I’m hardly better myself as I need at least 3 to be satisfied πŸ˜€ You did a beautiful job of making these yourself. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

    • Biren says

      Good thing you can buy them easily there. At 4 to 5 pieces each, you’ll have to be really good at the the “tebar” thing. :)

  15. says

    i grew up eating these as my midnight snack! they’re super delicious! I also love eating roti planta(margarine), they made me gain a lot of KGs !!

  16. says

    Wow you have a tavva! That’d be my point of envy πŸ˜‰ And super wonderful that you’ve just homemade my favourite Malaysian breakfast! Ok I’ve so much to say that this is going to be a long comment πŸ˜› My favourite childhood (till now) food is nasi lemak, the good ‘ol $1 (or was is 50 cents back then?) pack, nothing fancy, just the essentials :) And it’s such a great collaboration that I’m looking forward to the book!

  17. Tamara says

    Mmm… reminds me of one of my favorite childhood treats in Taiwan. Flat bread stuffed with scallions and sometimes shredded turnip. Soooo good!

  18. judy richards says

    My favorite childhood memory was of pancakes but not the big, fluffy kind. Our pancakes were made on the order of crepes. My father always made them and I floated lots of butter on them, rolled them up, and covered them in powdered sugar. Sweet, wonderful memories.
    My niece married a wonderful young man from Sri Lanka and they now have a beautiful 2 year old daughter. They are coming to visit us in June, along with his mother and father from Sri Lanka. I would love to have a copy of the book to present to them so that her grandfather could read it to her.

  19. says

    How flattering for them to ask you to do this special feature on your blog!! I love how it ties in your blog name, and the roti you prepared look delicious. I think my favorite food as a child is still one of my favorites as an adult, manti, an Armenian canoe-shaped dumpling dish :)

  20. says

    I have had this at a Malaysian restaurant in Seattle and we call this Paratha in India where lot of oil is used instead of the butter. Looks delicious with the stepwise instructions.

  21. says

    Wow, I am CRAZY about roti canai! I tried several recipes and failed miserably. Now maybe your recipe with the step-by-step instructions will be my lucky break! I am pinning this to try when I get a little more time :-).
    Thanks you for sharing!

    • Biren says

      Roti canai is not easy to make. It takes years of practice to be able to toss and spread that dough even though it looks simple. Hopefully you will have success with this recipe. :)

  22. says

    Hi Biren, I’ve been looking for a good roti recipe and I’ve never seen the dough being put into spirals so I will definitely be trying this recipe out. I absolutely adore them so I’m going to make a nice curry to go with it! Thanks very much for the enlightenment :)


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