Roti jala (Malaysian net crepes)

Sometimes I wonder if I would have been so enthusiastic about cooking if I hadn’t come to the UK when I was 17. It was definitely a whole new experience, and I still remember how I was a mixed bag of feelings – excited yet slightly apprehensive. I must say I was lucky, as I went to an A level college which pretty much looked after us in every way possible – all our meals were catered for, we had our laundry done for us once a week, and even our rooms cleaned every so often! It also helped that at least three quarters of the year was from South East Asia, and it felt like a home away from home.

And then there was university, where after a year in halls, I had to start looking for a place to stay. Slowly, the true reality of life started to sink in – rent, household chores, living with people you barely knew, and of course dealing with bills.

Anyway, I digress. I was saying how I probably wouldn’t be such a cooking nut if I had stayed on in Malaysia – primarily because I would have lots of food available to me, pretty much 24/7. I mean, anyone who’s been to Malaysia will know that eating is truly a national hobby, and that we will go to great lengths to eat the “best char koay teow” (or insert appropriate dish here).

The fact that I often crave for various Malaysian dishes that are hard to come by in London is therefore a good thing, as it forces me to learn how to cook them. Now I’m not saying I do it well, but beggars can’t be choosers. When you’re desperate, anything is better than nothing. :P

Roti jala (directly translated as “net bread”) is a popular Malaysian dish that is often served at parties (or “kenduri” as we call it back home). They are essentially savoury crepes which have a net like design, and are eaten with curries – my favourite way to eat them is with chicken and potato curry. And if you asked me what my favourite carb accompaniment to curry was -  this would be it. I would not dare to speak of how many of these I can eat in one sitting…

These are made with a special mould, which has five mini “funnels” in it. I didn’t take a photo of it, but type “roti jala mould” into google images and you’ll find lots of photos. If you don’t own such a mould, you can poke 5 holes in a can/bottle and use that as a makeshift mould (I have never done this myself so cannot vouch for how well this will work).

Although time consuming (as you have to make one at a time), these are actually quite easy to whip up. I was actually surprised at how fuss free they were, and how good they tasted! If you haven’t had these before, do try them, and I promise you won’t be dissapointed!

Roti Jala (Malaysian net crepes)
Based on this recipe by Seasaltwithfood

  • 300g plain flour
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp corn oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 300ml water
  • 300ml semi-skimmed milk (you can also use coconut milk)

1. Combine all the ingredients, and whisk until the batter is smooth and free of lumps. Strain the batter.
2. Heat a non-stick pan over medium high heat.
3. Fill the mould with some batter, and make a few mini-swirls in the pan until it forms a large “net” pancake. (It’s hard to explain this process with words, and in retrospect, I should have taken photos of the cooking process to make it easier to understand. This video from youtube shows this process.) *
4. When the batter is set (takes about 1 minute), flip it over and cook the other side for approximately 30 seconds.
5. Remove pancake/crepe from the pan, and fold them into triangles/roll them up as I did.
6. Repeat the above until you have used up all the batter. I keep the cooked roti jala in a low heat oven to keep them warm.
7. Serve warm with a curry of your choice.

*When making the mini-swirls, keep the mould as close to the pan as possible as it helps to create a prettier net like design. On my first few attempts, I had the mould too far away from the pan (i.e. too high), which meant that by the time the batter got close to the pan, the flow of the batter was nearing a “drip drip” flow (as opposed to a continuous flow of batter which is what you want). Errr, does that make sense?

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44 thoughts on “Roti jala (Malaysian net crepes)

      • I use corn oil because it helps when making the jala, as it won’t stick to the pan. You can use any other flavourless oil, I wouldn’t recommend olive oil though as it might alter the taste slightly.

        I suppose that you could potentially leave the oil out of the recipe (and add more milk or water), and lightly oil your pan instead. I’ve not tried this though so I can’t guarantee that it will work.

        Hope that helps!

  1. That looks amazingly good. I totally understand how you feel. In act, I think anyone living abroad would. I have a roti jala mould too given by a friend but haven’t use it yet as of now. Might make some soon when I make chicken rendang just don’t like making too much of it. I can never finish it since I only make to serve the two of us. Thanks though. I will half the recipe accordingly.

    • Definitely halve it if you’re not a fan of leftovers, I had lots of leftover roti jala (which I happily ate the next day – they kept rather well I must say!)

  2. It’s so true what you said. I don’t believe I would be into cooking as much if I hadn’t left home. I’m really fortunate to have some old friends from Malaysia here and obviously the conversation always steer towards food – where to go for the best curry laksa or nasi lemak and so on.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe :D

    • I think it’s such a Malaysian/Chinese thing for the conversation to inadvertently end up about food! I always manage to bring food into the conversation even when I don’t realise I’m doing it. ;)

    • Oooh do try these. :) I do dip them in the curry (which is why I choose to roll them up as it aids the dipping process). Or alternatively you can eat them with a fork and knife, but I find that less fun!

  3. I really miss home just looking at this!!!! Even though we didn’t eat that much of this in Singapore… still I haven’t had this in ages.

    Gorgeous photos, thanks for sharing!

    • I know what you mean – sometimes looking at photos of food makes me really long for home. Once again a testament to our obsession with food… :D

    • So google translator has translated the above into “looks great”. To that I say thank you, or teşekkür ederim. :)

  4. I love roti jala! We call it roti kirai here in singapore. Much like roti prata (sg) vs roti canai (msia). And like yourself, I could easily down a whole lot in one sitting :P Love the photos here, btw!

    • You know what, I never knew they were called roti kirai in Singapore! Wonder why we always have different names for the same foods…

  5. oooh! went to uni in the UK at about the same age too! i love roti jala, but have never been successful with the mould (i cant seem to get the batter consistency just right so it flows correctly out the mould). i use a squeeze bottle instead, i feel it gives me more control over the batter..

    • How interesting! I never even thought about using a squeeze bottle in my pre-roti jala mould days.

      Wonder why you’ve had problems with the consistency, only thing I can think of is to add more liquid (which I’m sure you’ve done already). But you know what, it doesn’t matter as you’ve still managed to them! :P

  6. Gotta agree with you hands-up! If I hadn’t left Malaysia for the States in January 2007, I still can’t fry an egg!! Hahaha! Believable!? Up to you … But glad that I took this path and discovered that I’m a cooking/baking nuts like you!! And one who loves to photograph every food that she makes, with a little bit of touching up here and there! Hahaha!

    I also wouldn’t have learned how to appreciate foods from other cultures other than Malaysian. My family consists of stubborn Malaysian eaters! Argh! They don’t have too sweet of a tooth, too!

    The thing is when I came back, I realized people here do not like home cooking. Instead, they prefer eating out. Then, they love to criticize about others’ food even though they have nary an idea about cooking. What the heck!? (This is just my two cents …)

    Oh, well … I made roti jala when I was in the U.S. But I didn’t have roti jala cup. So, I made one the DIY way. It screwed up my roti bad time! Hahaha! So, you’ve got a confirmation from me: If you have OCD, don’t try that DIY roti jala cup! Hahaha! Here’s my roti jala with simple veggie and chicken curry (but one with yogurt instead of coconut milk):

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ocbcb/3532067017/in/set-72157612526791181/

    Keep it up! Love your work! Hope to hear from you soon!

    • Lol so it doesn’t work then… at least it still looks good though! :) It’s such a shame they’re so hard to find outside Malaysia, especially when they’re so cheap (I got mine for RM 1.80).

      I guess that learning how to cook is definitely a plus of being away from home. :) I can imagine how people back home like to compare foods to those you can get from restaurants/hawker stalls – I think the issue is that there are so many places to get good food back home…

    • I’ll have to remind myself to pick one up for you if I see them on my next trip home. :)

      I did consider bringing them on Sunday, but there was already so much savoury food that I decided against it. Also the curry would have been hard to transport :P Maybe next time?

    • That sounds about right – I think it would be very hard to go hungry in Malaysia. :D And dipping the roti into the curry is truly one of the most pleasurable things ever.

  7. What a smarty! I always find this stuff really intriguing! Wouldn’t think to make it just because it’s available throughout Asia here. :) But homemade is always yummier, well, most of the time!

    • Definitely wouldn’t have tried to make these if I could get them easily… I bet the ones from those expert makciks will be much better though – it’s already on my food agenda for the next trip home as I haven’t had roti jala from home in a while!

    • I just dipped the rolls into the curry – rather undignified I know, but very satisfying. ;) You don’t have to spread it out to make a wrap, we tend to just eat a bit of roti with a bit of curry – and the flavours will then do a little happy dance in your mouth.

    • Thank you Ellie, it’s high praise coming from you. :) And I love her blog, it’s taught me loads about Malaysian cooking.

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