Am really on a bit of a Malaysian cuisine show-and-tell mood at the moment, due in large part to the all-out Southeast Asian buffet a friend asked me to cater for her recently (a post on that coming up soon) :)
Roti Jala translates literally from Malay to mean "net bread", and are essentially soft savoury crepes traditionally served alongside a good chicken curry (although they are just as good for mopping up other kinds of tasty gravy too). Made out of coconut milk and coloured a natural yellow by ground turmeric, the attractive lacey pattern is created using one these funny-looking thingies:
A roti jala mould
Unfortunately whilst these moulds are dead cheap and easily available in Malaysia, they are nowhere to be found even in the largest Asian supermarkets here in London. Lucky for me my good foodie friend Marisa happily lent me hers (thank you makcik!)- if you can't get your hands on one then suggested substitutes I have heard of are using a squeezy bottle with a narrow nozzle (although you will need quick fingers to squirt out the pattern at top speed) or making your own mould by drilling holes into an empty tin can (although some say the lack of funnels means the batter ends up pouring out in big blobs). If you find an alternative that works do let me know!
One other really cute tip I picked up watching a roti jala man at work at his stall was to shove a fork or skewer into half an onion and using it to grease your frying pan- this not only lightly flavours your pancakes with a delicious hint of onion, but ensures you get a very thin even layer rather than pouring in too much oil.
The cool little oily-onion trick
Lastly, whilst it takes a tad more effort Marisa and hubby insist that the roti jala must be rolled into neat long bundles as shown below to ensure the correct bite, texture and "moppability", rather than being folded into triangular quarters (half, then half again). It's entirely up to you but I am inclined to agree, plus it looks prettier to me anyway :) Happy cooking!
Roti Jala (Malaysian Lacey Coconut and Turmeric Crepes)
Makes about 20 crepes
Sift together into a large bowl:
2 cups of plain flour
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
Make a well in the middle of the flour, add in and whisk to form a thin batter (I use an electric mixer briefly at the end to get rid of lumps):
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup water
Set a heavy-based frying pan on low-medium heat and grease with an onion dipped in oil. Pour the batter in using a quick circular motion as shown in my nifty little home-video below:
Repeat all of the above until the rest of the batter is used up. Serve immediately with a good hot curry.