Even though I came back from Malaysia more than one month ago, there is one thing (among many) that still haunts me, and sometimes leads my mind to wander for minutes and minutes, even in public. It may seem deep and thoughtful from my point of view, but from everyone else’s it’s just me staring at a random point in space with an absent and slightly sad expression on my face, which is not exactly what matches the dictionary definition of “deep” and “thoughtful”. Anyway, if you ever happen to bust me in this amazing situation, just know that what I’m thinking of in such an intense way is a particular something. To be more precise, a famous Malaysian food, beloved, I have no doubt, from every single being living there. Only two words, yet able to evoke a million sensations. A name capable of waking Sleeping Beauty up without the kissing part, to end the tension between North Korea and the US, to push you to rethink the basis of your whole existence, to make your tasting buds scream for pleasure and demand more, and more, and more. What I’m talking about, my fellow readers, is called Roti Canai.
Do you remember that old Greek myth about Prometheus? The man who rebelled against the Gods and chose to bring fire to humanity, a gift that according to Zeus would have made our race incredibly more advanced and powerful, to such an extent that we would have defeated the divinities? Well, it was all wrong. Fire? Like, seriously? I mean, it’s just a red shiny thingy that burns, and it could also harm you if you get too close! Unlike Roti Canai, which cannot harm you in any way. Ever. Forget about that crap, guys: what really enabled human beings to evolve and gain enough experience points to reach the next level was Roti Canai, all the time.
My love for this delicatessen cannot be described properly given my writing abilities (actually by nobody’s abilities). However, this brief article is my tribute, my ode to the creator of the beauty the world needed to progress, and, of course, to the beauty itself. Others already recognize its valor and therefore tried to praise it, like for example the worldwide known Simone Weil (very few are aware that the “supernatural bread” she talks about is actually Roti Canai), and I will be soon joining them.
First things first: what is Roti Canai? Other than the definition I personally like the most, “God’s Gift To Us Poor Losers”, it’s basically a mixture of flour, fat and water. What makes it unique is it’s preparation: the dough has to be kneaded, then flattened, oiled and finally folded various times. After this, the mixture is allowed to rise and the whole process is repeated. In the final stage, the dough is spread out, rolled into a thin spiral and then flattened. By doing this, it remains soft and squishy on the inside but quite crisp on the outside. Due to its versatility, in can be accompanied with almost anything. The most usual side servings are dhal (lentil curry) or any other curry, from chicken to mutton to fish. It can be eaten in two ways: either you tear the Roti apart and dip it into the curry, or you be a savage and pour it all upon the bread, drowning it in the most enjoyable spiciness of all history.
Although Roti Canai originated from India, it is a very common dish in Malaysia, often consumed as breakfast or late night supper (nothing better before sleeping, trust an expert).
A lot of different versions of Roti were born during the years: among the most easily found in Malaysia we have Roti Bom, Roti with bananas, onions, sardines and a lot more. Personal fav: Roti Bom. Much more dough, satisfaction and happiness. Another advantage is that it is cheap, the cost usually being around one/two Malaysian ringgits, circa 20/40 cents in euro. One euro, five Rotis. Wow.
Let’s discuss the taste now. The taste… how to describe it? I would say bread and butter, but it’s so much more than that. The fluffiness of the inside, as previously said, clashes with the exterior crunchiness and makes it even more nice to taste. On its own can be felt as basic, so what truly makes the difference is the curry. The combination of the two is just perfect, it completes it, gives you the feeling that curry itself was created to mix so indescribably well with the Roti, like two halves of the same apple, as if they were soulmates. The bread consistence doesn’t weaken it, it allows the curry taste to emerge while you chew and experience the spiciness rising.
Haters say it is extremely filling because of the enormous quantity of oil/dough used to prepare it, but the truth is Roti Canai doesn’t go to the stomach, but to the heart instead. And yes, maybe blocking some arteries on the road, but that’s not the point. The point is that Roti Canai is addictive. After the second dose, you stop caring and ask for another one. Again and again. And you will try not to, to decline a dish, to say no, please, stop, I have kids, but it will be useless. Eventually, you will surrender and be brought into a status where you will crave Roti Canai every second of your life. Just you wait until you will become like me, a Roti Canai defender.
Some unsavory folk might come up with strong accusations, such as “You are exaggerating, this is clearly not believable, it’s only bread with whatever, too much drama, go eat real stuff and stop this nonsense, what the hell is wrong with you” and so on. It’s okay. It is a personal opinion and people have the right to think what they want. In fact, what I normally do in this cases is meeting the person, sitting down peacefully, creating a relaxed, comfortable, friendly environment of mutual understanding and respect and later proceed to shove Rotis down the infidels throat in a peaceful confrontation until they beg for forgiveness and join my army of Roti Canai defenders. See? No hard feelings.
So, this was my ode to one of my favorite foods. Jokes aside, if in the future you will ever have the opportunity to taste it, do it immediately. Also, if you want to be a part of the Army leave a comment down below, I will let you know what I can do.