Make this easy roti recipe as part of an Indian-style feast. It's perfect for dipping in a tarka dhal or one of our homemade curry recipes. Then check out more of our flatbread recipes including homemade wholemeal flatbreads, naan bread and chapati.

What is roti?

Roti canai comes out of the Indian influence of Kuala Lumpur; a paratha-style bread served with chickpea curry and probably a few sambals, which is what makes it unique to Malaysia. Crisp layered bread with a saucy, spicy curry and various chilli sauces for breakfast? You can keep your overnight oats, we're having this.

How to make roti

There are some roti recipes that include condensed milk and butter as well as the sugar and oil, but we thought this would over-sweeten something deeply savoury. There also appear to be several ways to shape roti: some create a spiral effect by wrapping the dough around itself and then flattening, but these came out slightly denser and lost some of that fluffy texture, when we tested them.

The real technique here is in getting the roti dough as thin as possible using the slick, oiled worksurface to work it until it’s paper-thin – it’s amazing how tactile and strong the dough is. The thinner the dough, the more layers there are in the roti, and the better they’ll be. The traditional way of stretching the dough is to pick it up from one side, flap it in the air and then slap it down. This takes a bit of practice, but it’s highly satisfying!

Smashing them up after you’ve spent all that time stretching and shaping might sound bonkers, but this lets the steam escape and means the roti stay crisp as well as fluffy.

Roti Canai

How to serve roti

Roti canai would usually be served with a thin, spicy chana (chickpea) dahl, but I’ve gone for a more substantial veg curry. I’m sorry if this upsets you, but rules were made to be broken.

Roti canai recipe




  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar
  • vegetable oil


  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces ginger, finely grated
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 350ml veg stock
  • 200g peas
  • a small bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced


  • STEP 1

    Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl and add 200ml of lukewarm water gradually, to form a dough. Knead until elastic and shiny. Wrap in clingfilm 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.

  • STEP 2

    The next day, start with the curry. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the onion and fry for 5-10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the spices and fry for another minute.Add the chickpeas and fry for a minute, then add the tomatoes and stock. Simmer for 20 minutes until the chickpeas are tender. Stir through the peas and cook for 2 minutes. Reheat to serve.

  • STEP 3

    Oil the worksurface really well and take one of the dough balls. Flatten the ball using the palm of your hand, making a square that is 15cm x 15cm. Take one side of the square and slowly pull outwards, stretching the dough. The oil on the worksurface will grip the dough while you stretch it. Continue to do this with each side until the dough is very thin and roughly 40cm x 40cm, don’t worry if it rips.

  • STEP 4

    Take the bottom 1/3 of the dough and fold it up to 2/3 of the way up. Take the top 1/3 and fold this down over the folded section. You should now have a wide rectangle. Take the left hand 1/3 of dough and fold this in, 2/3 of the way along and then fold the right hand 1/3 over this so that you have a square. Oil lightly and set aside. Repeat with the remaining dough, keeping them well oiled.

  • STEP 5

    Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the roti for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. Keep warm in a low oven. Remove from the oven and rough the roti up by bringing your hands together forcibly as if clapping with the roti in the middle a few times. Reheat the curry and add the chopped coriander and lemon juice and season. Serve with the roti.

Check out our best ever veggie curry recipes...

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Adam Bush Chef Portrait
Adam BushDeputy food editor

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