Malaysian Flatbread (Roti Canai) with Curried Lentil Dip


With a crispy, crunchy exterior and a stretchy, chewy interior, these Malaysian flatbread (roti canai) are easier to make than they look. Served alongside a delicious curried lentil dip, this taste combination is ridiculously good!

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 35 mins
Additional Time:
8 hrs 10 mins
Total Time:
10 hrs 15 mins
8 servings

Sometimes the "food wishes" I get take years, or even a decade, before they make an appearance on the channel. Other times, as was the case with this amazing Malaysian Flatbread (Roti Canai), they are granted almost instantaneously. I saw the request in the morning, and by that afternoon, after several minutes of exhaustive research, I'd already started experimenting.

I'm a huge fan of flatbreads, no matter where they're from, or how they're shaped. I probably shouldn't call this beginner's luck, since I do have a lot of experience working with these types of things, but still, I was happily surprised with just how well they came out. As I demonstrated in the video, I still need to work on the old drop-the-folded-dough-on-the-table trick, but all in all, I was pretty pleased with myself.

While this fantastic flatbread would be incredible dipped into anything, the simple and relatively fast red lentil curry was a perfect pairing. You could also make this more substantial by adding extra vegetables, some chicken, or lamb into the mix. No matter how you enjoy yours, I really do hope you give this roti canai a try soon. Enjoy!

Malaysian Flatbread (Roti Canai) with Curried Lentil Dip
Chef John

For more Chef John, be sure to subscribe to Food Wishes on YouTube! Click the "Join" button there to get Chef John's bonus video footage and behind-the-scenes pictures, live chats, and other Food Wishes member exclusives.


For the Roti Canai:

  • 4 cups bread flour

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 ¼ cups water

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Curried Lentil Dip:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • ½ cup diced yellow onion

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ¼ cup tomato paste

  • 3 cups cold water

  • 1 (14 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk

  • 1 cup dried red lentils

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted, or more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped serrano pepper


  1. Combine bread flour, sugar, kosher salt, egg, melted butter, and water for roti canai in a mixing bowl. Mix with your hands until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer to a work surface and knead until a smooth, elastic dough forms, about 7 minutes.

  2. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces and form each one into a ball. Coat each ball with vegetable oil, transfer to a plate, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 8 hours, to overnight.

  3. Melt butter for dip in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger, garlic, kosher salt, curry powder, paprika, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne pepper; stir together and saute until onion has softened and spices are fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook until it starts to toast and caramelize on the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes.

  4. Stir in cold water and coconut milk. Add lentils; stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 40 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Reduce heat to low and keep warm while you prepare the roti canai.

  5. Place 1/4 cup melted butter in a bowl. Transfer rested dough balls onto a lightly oiled work surface. Flatten each ball slightly and rub a little melted butter on top. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it warm up slightly, about 10 minutes.

  6. Press on top of the plastic wrap to flatten warmed dough. Remove plastic wrap and add a bit more butter. Stretch each piece from the center out to get it as thin as possible (until almost see-through), adding more butter as needed. Don't worry if there are a few small tears.

  7. Sprinkle on more melted butter, then pull two sides in towards the center until touching and overlapping slightly. Pull the other two edges in the same way to form a square. Cover with plastic wrap and flatten roti canai one more time.

  8. Add some melted butter to a skillet set over medium or medium-low heat. Add roti canai and cook until browned, flaky, and crispy on the outside and fully cooked through on the inside, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

  9. Remove from the skillet and smush it with your hands to fluff it up and separate the layers of dough. Repeat to cook remaining roti canai.

  10. Sprinkle the curried red lentil dip with cilantro and sliced serrano peppers and serve alongside the roti canai.


Chef's Notes:

You can use 1 teaspoon fine salt in place of 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt for the roti canai. You can use any lentils in place of red lentils.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

565 Calories
27g Fat
67g Carbs
16g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 565
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 27g 34%
Saturated Fat 18g 91%
Cholesterol 58mg 19%
Sodium 811mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 67g 24%
Dietary Fiber 11g 38%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 16g
Vitamin C 6mg 28%
Calcium 62mg 5%
Iron 7mg 41%
Potassium 562mg 12%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

You’ll Also Love