Monday, February 1, 2010

LACE CREPES ~ ROTI JALA


This was my father's favourite must have for the festive season and I remember mother sitting on a squat stool in front of a very low stove (she did not want to stand for hours) assembled as a temporary stove the night before, probably by my father, and twirling roti jala-s on the morning of raya.....


....agitated and stressed out..... because she had to make quite a fair bit and then rush to take a shower, put on her make up, do her hair and slip into her prettiest dress so that she looked breathlessly beautiful before the guests arrived. (Pun not intended)


I don't blame her. Because to make a fair amount of roti jala takes up quite a lot of time.

And in those days you couldn't simply step out the door and buy food. These, however, are sold by the kilo nowadays by housewives who run little home food catering businesses. Very convenient.


Or do like I do. Make them ahead of time, freeze them, thaw them and when the day comes steam them, in small batches at a time, a few hours before you're expecting your guests.

These are served cold with a warm beef or chicken curry so there is no worry about keeping the roti warm. 


The making of roti jala is therapeutic but only when it's not done under the duress of time.

It's all in the wrist. It uses a simple plain crepe batter only slightly runnier so that it flows smoothly and unhindered through the spouts of the roti jala mould. 


I enjoy the twirling of the mould, feeling the flow of the batter push through the spouts, the dancing of my wrist, watching the delicate lace pattern appear on the griddle, folding and rolling the dainty lace-work and then seeing the pretty pile grow higher and higher. I can be so silly. True.

The recipe ~


Flow' and 'Smooth' would have to be the keywords for this recipe because if you don't have a satiny smooth completely lump free batter you will not have the batter flowing freely through the tiny spouts of the mould. And your experience would be far far away from therapeutic. Trust me. 

The roti jala mould looks almost like a miniature watering can but with multiple spouts pointing downwards. They come in plastic and brass. 

Now if only roti jala brass mould makers had more passion and some desire for perfection they could make this very elementary kitchen tool look quaint, pretty and charming. Like the roti jala itself. And I would have a pretty collection.

Unfortunately the workmanship was as rudimentary as a tool from the bronze age. :(



2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 cups minus 2 T thin coconut milk (the consistency of skimmed milk)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp tumeric powder


Note : you may have to adjust the consistency of the batter to make it thinner by adding water a tablespoon at a time if you find that it is too thick to flow out from the spouts smoothly. 

Sift flour into a medium bowl. Add salt and tumeric powder. Break 2 whole eggs into the flour and pour in half the coconut milk. Mix with a whisk adding the remainder of the milk slowly until the batter is smooth and free of visible lumps.


Pour the batter through a fine sieve into another bowl to ensure a completely lump free and smooth batter. This is essential otherwise you may find that the spouts may get clogged by tiny lumps of undissolved flour. Pour into a jug for easy handling later.


Heat up a cast iron griddle or a heavy non stick pan. Swipe some oil on its surface using a kitchen paper folded into a pad. Let the surface heat up again and lower the flame to small-medium.


Place the roti jala mould on a flat and wide bowl so that it stands upright and will not topple over. Pour the batter from the jug into the mould about halfway up the mould. 


Bring the mould and its supporting bowl near to the griddle and lifting the batter filled mould, by holding it over its top with all five fingers rather than by its handle, quickly make small circles over the griddle by twirling your wrists clockwise and at the same time moving your hand  along so that you will be forming a larger circle made up of those small circles. The final small circle will be in the centre. The first piece will always be sacrificial.


Let the crepe cook and firm up. About 1 -2 minutes. 


When done remove the crepe with a spatula and place on a flat plate. These crepes are usually about 8 inches in diameter. 

Fold the crepe or roll it up as you like. I usually do this when I have another crepe cooking on the griddle.

Repeat the process until all the batter is finished.

This is traditionally served with a curry or lamb/mutton rendang or a beef rendang.


Roti jala literally translated would be 'net crepes'. Simply because the word lace does not exist in the Bahasa vocabulary. So the closet description of its likeness in Bahasa would be net which I believe it resembles more of anyway. 

But lace sounds prettier. And I'm a sucker for prettiness. That's how shallow I can get.

And the fineness of a roti jala depends very much on the size of the spouts and the smooth flow of the batter. 

Many roti jala makers in the old days take pride in each piece appearing as lace-like or as net-like as possible. I doubt mine would pass the test.


I don't want to bore you, and I'm no physicist, but in making these roti pressure from the amount of batter in the mould does matter in getting a fine or coarse 'lace'. So adjust the amount accordingly. 

The height from which you hold the mould above the griddle matters as well. Not too high or the batter will drop in polka dots and too low it will give you a thick line. Adjust accordingly.

If you have pained and suffered this post I will now reward you with another photo. You're welcome.







68 comments:

MaryMoh said...

Your roti jala looks very beautiful. I have not eaten this for many years, since I left home. I have a roti jala mould. Have to make it one of these days.

3 hungry tummies said...

Oh I have the same roti jala cup :) Made some the other day with chicken curry, must try your recipe next. they look great!

KennyT said...

I alway see this on TV, would love to try!!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Oh, anything lacy and pretty, I want! They are perfect! Zurin, you have a lot of patience! Actually I can understand what you mean about this being therapeutic. It's like kneading, yeah? ;) Your lil anecdote on your mom brought a smile to my face. But in all seriousness, women of the past were really made of sterner stuff. Hats off to them.

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

My Malay friend also taught me this too, and I only made it once. Your roti Jala look so beautiful, I must cook this soon. And I like you use tumeric powder instead of me using yellow colouring. Thanks for sharing.

tracieMoo said...

this is my favourite. It always reminds me of primary school, where my canteen has the best roti jalas sold only on fridays. Everyone would queue up till recess time's over! Gosh.. Now I can learn how to make it :D
You certainly made it looks very delicious!

Su-yin said...

I love roti jala, especially when it's served with rendang.

I once tried to punch holes in a tin can to see if I could come up with a makeshift roti jala mould, but it didn't work - so I still have yet to make it. Will need to get one the next time I'm home. :P

It's a really good idea to make them in bulk and freeze them, will definitely do that when I make these.

Quinn said...

I say your pass the test Zurin. Man, I've made them before but I don't think I twirl and swirl it the right way. I randomly did mine with an empty ketchup bottle. No 'Roti Jala' mould....

Irene's Footprints said...

wow lacy food! I love lace!

Pretty!

Barbara said...

This is the first time I have ever heard of roti jala! Fascinating post. I can see why you freeze them- it's a very time-consuming dish. And beautiful. I assume you pour the beef or chicken curry over them. I doubt that I'll ever make them, but I loved watching you do it! Fun post, Zurin!

Angie's Recipes said...

Never had this, not even saw them before...they look so beautiful...too beautiful to eat them..

La Table De Nana said...

I may just have that squeeze bottle..I hope I kept it..Oh how fanciful Zurin~ A nice cheery post this morning..

Trix said...

Whoa. This is just incredible to me. I have never seen these, and I doubt I could find this tool here ... but I am beyond impressed at the delicate craftsmanship, patience, and work that goes into these! Yes, I can see how this would be therapeutic. Very cool.

Federica said...

ciao!!! ma che splendida ricetta!!! mi manca quella siringa!!

Grazie per i tuoi commenti..sei molto gentile!!
ciaoooooooooooo

Linda said...

Zu these look amazing...I have never seen them before and your entire meal is making me so hungry!
I just did a little bit of research on the subject...facinating!
Thank you so much for sharing!
L~xi

Juli Herman said...

I think I will do as you do la next raya inshaallah...make ahead freeze thaw steam MAFTS. I made them the day before usu for raya...but yours is a better idea. BEAUTIFUL mummy!!!

Anncoo said...

WOW Zurin! This is very beautiful. I have this roti jala cup but never used it before. Thanks for reminding.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

This is so lovely! Is this a Malay dish or Indian dish? I am also curious which festival would you have this.... The curry looks really good too... sigh...

Mary said...

I feel like a stranger in paradise. I've never heard or seen these before. They are visually stunning and I'll wager they are as delicious as they are beautiful. Thanks for posting this. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Chow and Chatter said...

oh wow another cool thing I have learned from you I made chicken curry today wish I had some of these to go with it

nazarina said...

This is too exquisite to eat! Your recipe too just too darn yummy!

Jhonny walker said...

what a fancy fancy thing to do!! beautiful :)

diva said...

oh yum!! this is so pretty and little arty 'crepes' of deliciousness :)

Pam said...

Those are works of art!

muffinsareuglycupcakes said...

ooh so thats how you make it! beautifully done zu!

zurin said...

Tq ladies and gentlemen for your precious precious and lovely comments. Love you all! happy sigh

Kenny, would you really? oh do :)

Shirley, for 'hari raya' or eid :)

Juli, tq dearie :)

zurin said...

Oh SHirley,this is a Malay dish!:)

zurin said...

Barbara, tq :) yes you cld simply pour the curry over the roti or you cld have it sweet as well with syrup. :)

Joyce said...

Wow this was by far one of the best cooking posts I have read in ages. I have never tasted this and not sure I have even read about this before now. How interesting. Your Mom did all this and then had to dress and look pretty too. She must have been exhausted but I am sure the fact that everyone ate them made her smile. Good thing she did not have to make these every day:) Keep the tradition of these roti jala going with your family and friends.
Joyce

Ellie said...

Wonderful roti jala with the perfect swirl!

Nina's Recipes said...

wow, what a great idea for lace crepes! I can't wait to try it!
thank you so much! xo

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

They look fantastic! I made them recently too but not with such a cool mold! :)

Kate at Serendipity said...

Zurin, these look amazing. How pretty! I'm thinking they might make a lovely topping for a tart or maybe a bowl of fruit.

I have a question: the rolls in the photos look like they might have more than one crepe in them. Is that true?

Gorgeous. Thanks!

Fimère said...

tes crêpes sont magnifiques on dirait de la dentelle je ne risque pas de trouver l'outil chez moi tes recettes sont superbes
bonne journée

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Zurin, you've hit the spot! This is one of my faves, served with good, good curry! I'd tried to replicate roti jala whilst I was in the States with a DIY roti jala "mold." Unfortunately, it didn't look as good as yours! Yours are perfect! ;)

wendyywy said...

I was first introduced to this roti by my F2 class teacher who bought this for our class party. It was so delicious. Urs look so delicate, like french lace. I could down at least 5 pieces at one go!!! Yummy!!

Thank for sharing.

Kate at Serendipity said...

Zurin, thanks for the answer. I understand now how they're formed. Amazing! I'm wondering if I could do that with one squirt bottle if I go veryvery fast...

Anonymous said...

I love your blog and this looks like a great recipe to try! Thanks!

LeeYong

Elise said...

i have been looking for a recipe for the actual curry meat dipping sauce but do not know what it is called. maybe you have one and i just cant find it... maybe you can help me :)

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Looks lovely......love the swirly cake!

Duchess of Tea said...

My darling I popped in to wish you a love filled February full of blessings.

Love & Hugs
Duchess

Jo said...

This looks great. It just reminded me that I had bought the mould from Jusco supermarket more than 8 months ago and still haven't used it yet. This would be perfect with the beef rendang I have in my fridge .. haha.

Faida said...

I've been away from blogging latety and I've missed a few of your postings. I love Roti Jala especially when eaten with thick chicken curry. Oh ya, I made the fish floss recently. Nice... I mixed it with chunked fresh ulam-ulam. It cameout looking like kerabu. Very appetizing. Thanks for the idea.

zurin said...

Thanks again everyone for leaving a comment..lovely comments at that...I so appreciate it.

Elise,

I have a chicken curry recipe on my blog..just type Malay chicken curry in teh search box and you'll find it. thanks for asking...if there is anything else u need to know pls dont hesitate to ask. Ill be very happy to help :))))

Federica said...

ciao!!! grazie delle tue visite e commenti! sei molto gentile!!
se vieni in Italia ti offro un pranzo realizzato da me!!! ciaoooooooooooooooooo!!:))))

Cheah said...

This is my first time visiting. You have a great blog. I love roti jala, my old Malay neighbour, she used to make these and her curries were superb.

percicilan said...

On Sundays, I like to go to pasar malam ttdi to buy my fix of roti jala. Rm 2.50 per pack. My Sunday comfort food it is.. :)
Yours look perfect. When I make mine, they look yang kain buruk yang dah nyawa-nyawa ikan. heh :P

Elise said...

zurin ur a rock star! thanks for your help :) ill be sure to keep coming back to your blog :) i just found you on foodgawker and i like what you have. thanks again

Food For Tots said...

Your roti jala looks so mouth-watering especially when you placed them next to the curry. They reminds me of my relative who serves them on their CNY open house. Speaking about it, my stomach is drumming now....

Maya said...

So good with kari ayam!!!

terri@adailyobsession said...

very pretty lace!! u r an expert at this! we love roti jala too. i find tt there must be enough oil (as in the santan) or the jala will be too crispy n not fold.

Kate at Serendipity said...

Zurin, I'll let you know when I try this. I'll probable do it with buckwheat...

Cool.

Sophie said...

Oooh Zurin!!

these special pancakes look adorable & so apart!!!

Very special indeed! Yum!

Marysol said...

How beautifully-delicate are these!

I repeat, your blog is not only beautiful, but educational. I had never seen or heard of a Roti Jala mold before.
And you've just given me an idea. But first, I'll have to look up this wonderful tool.

Sanjana said...

These are so beautiful. I love how it is a very different take on Indian 'rotis' but eaten in the exact same way. I wonder if I can make these without eggs? I'll give it a go! :) Your step by step is very helpful! Thank you!

zurin said...

tq tq and tq for all your precious precious comments!....I live for this !

The Gypsy Chef said...

Wow! That's all I can say. These are beautiful. The bowl of curry looks so delicious also. Where would I find a roti jala mold?
Your Mom sounds like a tough women, not sure I would have gotten the makeup on after doing all of that! Kudos to her and to you for making this post!
Maybe your calling can be to design a more aesthetically pleasing Roti Jala mold?
Pam

pigpigscorner said...

This is so beautiful!

Divina Pe said...

That's very nice. I love eating roti but I haven't these lace crepes. I would definitely have these with the curry.

Trissa said...

Your nets looks beautiful! I wish i had one of those little yellow spouts to make them come out so evenly1

shayma said...

i love roti jala, Zurin. yours are really beautiful. x shayma

chapot said...

What a patience you have, I don't know if I can find a roti jala here, but I promiss you, I am going to look for it
I keep your recipe, it's so beautifull !

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Zurin, I found these Roti Jala mold here for 75cents! I shall try to make this after Chinese New Year!

Deeba PAB said...

Whimsical and beautiful ... I would love to eat a curry with roti as elegant as this!

Cath J said...

yummy!

Zoe said...

These are so creative and beautiful!

shuey said...

your roti jala looks awesome!
how long did u take to make?i saw the other website which uses milk instead of coconut milk. is that ok?

zurin said...

I cant remember how long now .LOL... milk is ok ..no problem at all. do try :)

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