Introducing the Malay roti

Like many other Indian dishes, the roti [pronounced: roh-tee or rooh-tee – depending where you’re from apparently] was adopted and adapted by the Cape Malay community and is quite a favourite in many households in Cape Town. If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about (you newbies you…), a roti is basically unleavened bread made from flour and is usually served with curry as a replacement to rice, and it is deeelicious! Malay rotis, I am told, are however lighter and softer in texture than Indian rotis.

Malay roti with filling
Photo via Hungabustas

How to make it:

There are hundreds of recipes out there for making rotis, so here is an easy one:


  • 750 ml flour
  • 100ml self-raising flour
  • 5 ml salt
  • 45 ml sunflower oil or softened butter
  • 250 ml cold water
  • 100 ml butter
  • 100 ml extra flour
  • A bit of melted butter, mixed with sunflower oil


Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add oil and rub in until fine crumbs form. Add water and mix until you have a soft dough. Knead, adding extra flour to make an even-textured, pliable dough. Cover and leave to rest for approx. 30 minutes (leaving the dough to rest is important, it ensures the dough is soft and pliable).

Devide dough into 7-8 pieces. Roll each piece out on a lightly floured surface to a circle 20cm in diameter, dot with 15ml butter and sprinkle with flour. Roll each and stretch into thick ropes of dough. Roll up both ends of the ropes; one clockwise and the other end anti-clockwise. Flip the one rolled-up half over to lay on top of the other.

[Tip #1: Rotis may be frozen at this stage, interleaved with plastic]

Allow to rest for about 1 hour, covered.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface to circles of approx 20cm in diameter. Heat frying pan and fry rotis one at a time, turning occasionally and brushing with melted oil and butter mixture.

Fry until golden brown and lightly speckled. Remove from pan and pat between your palms to fluff surface. Serve hot with curries. Makes 7-8.

How to eat it:

Break off a piece with your fingers and wrap it around a little curry. Indulge in its deliciousness… Generally, using knives and forks is frowned upon when eating curry with roti – but hey, whatever floats your boat.

[Tip #2: A roti rolled around a mince curry filling is known as a Salomi.]
[Tip #3: Since rotis are already a tad oily, I have found that they can be extra oily if you don’t get it from the right place or make it yourself, so choose carefully!]
[Tip #4: Pat rotis with paper towel to remove excess oil before serving.]

Please let us know if you tried it, and if you found it easy to make – or even if you have a better recipe, or a great curry recipe to share!


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