In Singapore, we call these flaky,light, flat pieces of fried dough Roti Prata whilst Malaysians refer to them as Roti Canai. In India, they are “Parathas”. My father-in-law who had spent several years in Bombay, India during World War 2 referred to them as “Porotta”. Whatever they are called, these rotis are one of the most popular kinds of breakfast foods in Singapore and Malaysia. This roti is kneaded and flattened by hand, spread with ghee (clarified butter) or oil and then flipped a few times to stretch the dough out into an enormous paper thin circle, then the dough is gathered together, flattened again and fried on a hot cast iron pan.
No less than 18 years ago when we were living in Kuala Lumpur, I chanced upon a pack of frozen Roti Canai made by “Kawan Ku” ( which means “Your Friend” )at their local supermarket. Although I was skeptical, I bought a pack for testing. My in-laws simply adored having roti pratas with their curries and it required effort to purchase freshly fried rotis. If these frozen doughs were fried correctly, they are as good as the freshly fried ones!
There are now innumerable brands selling frozen Rotis. Rotis sold are plain and onion rotis. I have also seen them on sale at the Asian Markets in several cities in the US and in Australia.
STEP 1. Each frozen prata is separated by layers of plastic. Keep them frozen and fry them individually and one at a time. Pre-heat your fry-pan. Roti MUST be in the frozen state when you place each on the pre-heated fry pan.
STEP 2. Cover the fry pan over medium high heat.
STEP 3. After 2 mins or so, flip the roti over. The bottom should be light golden brown as shown in the above photo.
STEP 4. Heat the roti till it puffs up as this means that the layers are well separated and the roti will be flaky and light. At this stage, I usually lift it out of the fry pan onto a clean table top and smash it by clapping both of my hands together whilst the fried roti is in the center. It is very hot.
I do realise that some of you may not be able to take the heat from the emitting hot air. Alternatively, use thick cooking chopsticks and clamp them together twice in opposite sections of the roti. See photo below.
STEP 5. Use a pair of kitchen scissors and cut the roti into smaller pieces.
Serve roti with dhal, fish or chicken curry (click here). Children may find curries too spicy for them and it is common place that their roti is served with a sprinkling of sugar. These rotis are now served with all kinds of filling – cheese, Milo (a malted beverage) and a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk. You are limited only by your imagination.