While you’re waiting for my book to reach, here’s a new recipe! Roti jala literally means “net bread” in Malay. It’s a chewy, latticed, rolled pancake paired with curry. It’s a traditional Malay dish that is usually served at events like weddings and festivals. This is usually made with egg to give the soft, tender texture that won’t break when rolled. I first had this in Kuala Lumpur at a vegan festival in 2019, and couldn’t forget it ever since. The nooks and crannies of each pancake mop up curry and gravy superbly well.
I often get asked, “How do you replace egg in a recipe?”. It highly depends on the role of egg in that recipe. Here, aquafaba, also known as chickpea liquid/water, is a fantastic alternative as it can add some air into the batter while giving moisture for a tender and soft texture. Simply drain out a can of chickpeas to get aquafaba. To make the net structure, any cup with 5 holes can be used. I usually improvise with a squeeze bottle meant for sauces. You can buy a roti jala cup if you like.
Vegan Roti Jala
Makes about 14 rolled crepes
- 1 cup (150 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/3 cup aquafaba
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- ¾ cup (180 ml) water
- Cooking oil to grease pan, as needed
- Sift flour and ground turmeric into a large bowl. Add salt. Stir in aquafaba, coconut milk and water in one direction until a smooth, runny batter forms. Strain batter to remove any lumps.
- Using a piece of kitchen towel, brush a little oil onto a non-stick pan over medium heat. You shouldn’t see oil streaks on the pan. Pour a little batter into a cup with 5-7 holes until about half full. Move the cup over the pan in a concentric, circular motion to drizzle batter in a lacy pattern. There should be a steady stream of batter coming out of the cup.
- Cook each crepe over low heat for about 30 seconds until the edges are slightly crusted. Turn off the heat and leave the crepe to sit for about 20 seconds. Then check by lifting it carefully with a spatula — it should be lifted in one piece. Slide crepe onto a plate. Repeat to cook more crepes till all the batter is used up, brushing the pan with oil before making each crepe. Do not fold cooked crepes while they are still hot.
- When crepes are cooled, fold two opposite sides of each crepe in towards the centre and roll up to form a roll. Serve with your favourite curry.
- It takes some patience and practice to get the shape right. Don’t trace a circle twice or the lines will be too thick and the lattice effect will be lost. Keep your hand steady and close to the pan to avoid getting splatters.
- Timing and heat control is quite important for getting the crepe’s tender texture. If you cook it for even a bit too long, the thinner strands will get too crispy and break easily.
- If you add too much oil to the pan, the crepes will turn out too crispy and break easily. Wipe off excess oil with a paper towel before adding the batter.
- Any curry goes well with roti jala. Try the curry from Curry Tempeh Noodles (page 43 of my book) and the Japanese curry (page 50). Or, try with this Chinese-style curry.