Healthy Vegetarian Roti Canai Curry Recipe

Looking to learn how to make the best homemade vegetarian Roti Canai Curry recipe?

We’ve traveled throughout Malaysia and love to recreate our favourite dishes at home. Popular Malay dishes like our healthy Roti Canai Curry recipe are a quick and affordable vegetarian and vegan dinner idea.

This simple recipe can be prepared in less than 24 hours and features homemade flaky flatbread and a spicy red lentil dal curry sauce.

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Travel to Malaysia by Cooking Our Roti Canai Curry Recipe

I love traveling through Asia. My first visit to Asia had me living in South Korea for a year as a teacher and it’s where I was first introduced to fermented vegetables like kimchi.

After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout Asia for 6 months, visiting the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, The Maldives, India and Malaysia.

In 2008 I spent a month backpacking through Malaysia, visiting wild Orangutans in Borneo, scuba diving Sipidan, exploring Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, eating my way through Penang, strolling the tea fields of the Cameron Highlands and wining and dining in Kuala Lumpur.

Later in 2018 as a travel journalist I had the opportunity to return to Malaysia to visit The Andaman Langkawi and Four Seasons Resort Langkawi. I discovered there are plenty of things to do on Langkawi. Malaysia’s famous tropical island offers museums, jaw-dropping lookouts, unique wildlife experiences and a bustling local food market.

What I found most fascinating is Malaysia’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in France, Germany, Italy or Spain, each destination in Malaysia had its own local speciality.

Ingredients you'll need to make our healthy Roti Canai Curry Recipe.
Ingredients you’ll need to make our healthy Roti Canai Curry Recipe.
Prepare Roti Canai Curry dough by rolling into balls and coating with oil.
Prepare Roti Canai Curry dough by rolling into balls and coating with oil.

Where To Eat the Best Roti Canai Curry Recipe

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Malaysian restaurants that serve traditional roti canai curry.

Haven’t traveled to Malaysia before? It may be helpful to first sample Roti Canai Curry at a local Malaysian restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can also assess the thickness and flakiness of the roti flatbread and sample the correct texture and spiciness of the dal curry before trying to make it at home.

In Toronto, popular Malaysian restaurants that may serve a vegetarian roti canai curry recipe include Soos on Ossington, Gourmet Malaysia in Scarborough and Restoran Malaysia near Markham.

Use butter or oil to roll roti canai dough until very thin, almost see through.
Use butter or oil to roll roti canai dough until very thin, almost see through.

What Is Roti Canai?

Roti Canai or Roti Chenai, is an Indian-influenced flatbread dish found in several countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore.

The flaky pastry is usually served with vegetarian lentil dal or other types of curry, but can also be cooked into a variety of sweet and savoury dishes featuring meat, egg or cheese.

Roti Canai is a popular breakfast and midday snack dish in Malaysia. It is said that the recipe was brought over from India by Indian Muslims, known as “Mamaks,” in Malaysia, and is served at street stalls in bustling cities and along rural roads.

Wrap thin roti canai dough into spirals before flattening with the heel of your hand.
Wrap thin roti canai dough into spirals before flattening with the heel of your hand.

How To Make Roti Canai Dough

We love making flatbread, pancakes and crepes at home. Our popular sourdough discard story includes a recipe for homemade naan. We’ve also made Savoury Vietnamese Crepes and Vegan Indian Pudla.

Roti Canai dough is prepared similarly to Cong You Bing, flaky green onion cakes. Both Roti Canai and Chinese Scallion Cakes are prepared with unleavened dough that are rolled onto a counter with fat, organized into a spiral to ensure maximum flakiness and fried in a non-stick pan on the stove.

Our Roti Canai Curry Recipe features several step by step photographs to show you how to make the flaky Malaysian flatbread. If it’s your first time preparing the dish we suggest watching this video on how to make roti canai dough.

Fry Malay roti canai flatbread in a greased non-stick pan.
Fry Malay roti canai flatbread in a greased non-stick pan.

Tips on Making Roti Canai Flatbread

  • Prepare the dough the day before you are planning on serving this roti canai curry recipe as it needs to relax overnight to stretch properly.
  • Be sure to grease your work surface with butter or vegetable oil. The grease allows you to handle the dough easily and stretch it out so it is almost transparent.
  • You want the dough to be as thin as possible and handle each individual flatbread by creating a spiral that when flattened and cooked in the pan will become flaky.
  • Use ample butter or oil in the pan when cooking roti canai to ensure it is crispy and well browned.
  • Moments after removing the roti from the hot pan, use both hands to smack the flatbread together. This gives the roti its signature fluffy and flaky texture.
Cool crispy and flaky roti canai flatbread on a rack before serving.
Cool crispy and flaky roti canai flatbread on a rack before serving.
Roti canai is a flaky and crunchy flatbread from Malaysia served with curry sauce.
Roti canai is a flaky and crunchy flatbread from Malaysia served with curry sauce.

What To Eat With Our Roti Canai Curry Recipe?

Our Roti Canai Curry recipe is served traditionally with flaky flatbread and vegetarian red lentil dal.

You can also serve roti canai with creamy curry sauces cooked with chicken, beef, pork and seafood.

At local Malaysian restaurants Roti Canai Curry is typically served with a glass of Teh Tarik. The popular hot milk tea beverage is prepared with black tea and condensed milk.

If you’re making our Roti Canai Curry Recipe at home, we suggest serving it alongside a crunchy salad such as Chinese Cucumber or Indian Red Onion.

Roti Canai Curry Recipe: Sauté vegetables, curry leaf and minced garlic.
Roti Canai Curry Recipe: Sauté vegetables, curry leaf and minced garlic.
Add flavour to our Roti Canai Curry Recipe by adding a few scoops of creamy butter ghee.
Add flavour to our Roti Canai Curry Recipe by adding a few scoops of creamy butter ghee.

Tips For Making The Best Roti Canai Dal

Ready to cook our homemade Roti Canai Curry recipe? We suggest reading the recipe directions in detail to ensure you understand the step by step process.

The total time to make our healthy vegan roti canai curry recipe is less than an hour. You can easily prepare the dish in advance to make entertaining easy. Prepare the sauce in the morning or afternoon and simply add a little water or stock to the curry when reheating to ensure it is the desired thickness.

You can easily make this roti canai curry recipe vegan by using vegetable oil instead of butter or ghee. We prefer to use butter or ghee as it adds a creamy flavour to the flaky pastry and dal curry.

The most important tip to making the best roti canai curry recipe is to ensure you are chopping the vegetables into bite sized pieces. Roti canai is traditionally served without utensils. Tear a piece of roti with your hand and use it to scoop your chunky red lentil dal.

If you enjoy spicy food, feel free to add additional hot peppers or a few shakes of your favourite hot sauce.

Our healthy vegetarian Roti Canai Curry Recipe should be chunky in texture.
Our healthy vegetarian Roti Canai Curry Recipe should be chunky in texture.
Serve the best Roti Canai Curry Recipe with crunchy red onion salad.
Serve the best Roti Canai Curry Recipe with crunchy red onion salad.

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The best way to eat our roti canai curry recipe is with your hands.
The best way to eat our roti canai curry recipe is with your hands.
Tear flaky flatbread and use it to scoop roti canai curry sauce.
Tear flaky flatbread and use it to scoop roti canai curry sauce.

Best Vegetarian Roti Canai Curry Recipe

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Roti Canai Curry

Looking for the best healthy Roti Canai Curry Recipe? Our easy step by step recipe shows how to make flaky flatbread and prepare a vegan dal curry sauce.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, malaysian
Keyword: Roti Canai, Roti Canai Curry, Roti Recipe, Vegetarian Curry
Servings: 6
Calories: 676kcal

Equipment

  • mixing bowl
  • spatula
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • Weigh scale
  • French knife
  • Wok or Non Stick Pan

Ingredients

Roti Dough

  • 400 g All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Dhal Curry

  • 1 Onion sliced
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp Ginger minced
  • 1 Garlic Clove minced
  • 1 Tomato sliced
  • 2 Curry leaf
  • 1/2 tbsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Potato
  • 250 g Lentils
  • 2 Thai Red Chili sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp Salt
  • 3 tbsp Ghee or butter

Instructions

Roti Dough

  • Mix flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl and add 200ml of lukewarm water gradually, to form a dough. Knead until elastic and shiny. Cover in plastic wrap and leave to rest for 20 minutes. 
  • Divide into 8 balls, roll each in vegetable oil and put on an oiled plate. Cover and chill overnight.
  • The next day. Spread a dab of unsalted butter on your work surface. Take one ball and lightly flatten it with the heel of the palm of your hand to make it bigger. Stretch it as thin as possible, until you can almost see through it. You can spread additional room temperature butter on the roti dough to help the stretching.
  • Scrape and push the upper end of the dough to the middle. Do the same to the lower end, forming a wrinkle thin log. Starting at one end of the log, roll it into a circle and tuck the other end inside. Leave aside for 10 minutes before cooking. Meanwhile you can continue with the rest of the balls.
  • Once ready to cook, take one rolled roti dough and flatten it into approximately 10-15 cm diameter. Heat some unsalted butter on non-stick pan over medium heat. Place the dough on the pan. Cook for several minutes until browned and crispy then flip.
  • For fluffy roti canai, remove the cooked pancake and place it on a work surface. Immediately grab it using both of your hands and squeeze it to the centre.
  • Keep the roti canai under a kitchen cloth to keep them warm. They're best eaten with dhal curry.

Dhal Curry

  • Heat oil over medium heat and sauté sliced onions until golden brown. Remove onions from pan and leave aside.
  • Using the same skillet, fry minced garlic, minced ginger and curry leaves until fragrant. Add tomato slices. Cover pan with the lid to allow tomatoes to soften.
  • Chop carrots and potatoes into bite-size pieces. Add them into the pot along with turmeric powder, red chili and lentils. Add 1 1/2 litres water and cook over high heat.
  • Once it boils, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils soften. Keep stirring to prevent curry from burning. Add salt to taste. Stir in fried onions. It's optional to add ghee or butter to make the curry a little creamy. Serve with crispy roti bread.

Nutrition

Calories: 676kcal | Carbohydrates: 128.4g | Protein: 28.2g | Fat: 5.3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1184mg | Potassium: 1044mg | Fiber: 24.4g | Sugar: 4.9g | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 10mg

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