Culture Food

Roti canai or not? 5 roti canai lookalikes found in Msia

Image from Taste Asian Food

Ahh, doesn’t that roti canai look absolutely scrumptious? Said to have been brought over here from South India during the British Malaya days, it’s no exaggeration to say that roti canai has since conquered our nation. Except… the flatbread in the image above is not roti canai.

Yep, there are a whole lineup of Indian flatbreads out there that look kinda like roti canai to varying degrees and given that Deepavali’s coming in a couple of days, we wanted to take this opportunity to explore some roti canai lookalikes. Let’s start with the flour-y boy we showed y’all earlier…


1. Roti Prata

Y’all know how people say roti prata is just Singapore’s version of roti canai? Well, that’s… not exactly true. Roti canai is usually made by kneading dough with ghee, then flattened, tossed and folded multiple times. That’s where roti canai’s signature crispy exterior and soft, flaky interior comes from.

Roti prata, on the other hand, is made with dough containing sugar and condensed milk, giving it a sweeter taste and denser texture. And just because we wanna spite our southern neighbors, we’ll say that roti canai is better than roti prata in every conceivable way. Don’t @ us.


2. Uttapam

While this looks like roti canai with extra steps, it’s not. Uttapam is actually more of a dosa (or tose/tosai) with extra steps. Sure, uttapam looks way thicker than the tose we’re used to eating, but both flatbreads are made from dough with the same ingredients: ground black lentils and rice.

The difference is in the way they’re served – uttapam is served with toppings like tomatoes, onion, chillies, bell peppers and coriander, whereas tose is usually served with daal, curry and green chutney.


3. Chapati

Img from LA Times

Traditionally, chapati dough is made from a type of whole-wheat flour known as atta and cooked using a tava. Apparently, it’s supposed to be puffy and light, but this writer can’t really tell the difference between chapati and naan when he orders them at mamak stalls.


4. Thepla

Y’all probably haven’t heard of this Korean pancake-looking roti canai thing, and that’s understandable. Even though thepla is mega popular in Gujarat, India, you can really only find it in legit Indian restaurants (not mamaks) here. It’s commonly made with wheat flour, gram flour, fenugreek leaves and other spices, served with condiments such as yogurt, chutney and chhundo (sweet mango pickle).


5. Kulcha

In India, Kulcha seems to refer to any number of breads that seemingly have no connection to each other at all, other than the fact that they’re all round in shape. Some are made with milk in the dough, some are stuffed with cheese, some have fillings like mutton. Reportedly, kulcha is often confused with naan or tandoori paratha in some parts of India.

Aaaand that’s pretty much the flatbreads we could find that look at least somewhat like roti canai. If y’all know of any other ones, stick ’em in the comments, and enjoy y’alls Deepavali. Not y’all Sarawakians, though, y’all tak dapat public holiday. Takziah.

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