malaysia: breads

There are two main breads consumed here in Malaysia, both coming from India, I think. The first, roti, is actually the word for bread as well, but when you go into a restaurant, it usually means unleavened dough cooked on a big skillet. There are many kinds to choose from: butter, cheese, egg, sardine are just a few of the most common ones. The most basic order is roti canai (RAW-ti CHA-nai), which is basic roti accompanied by small dishes of curry and daal. This can be ordered at any time of the day at any self-respecting Malay restaurant (with a big skillet). We had it for breakfast a couple of times, it’s nice and filling. I couldn’t get enough of this either, as a matter of fact. It resembles the green onion pancakes I love so much in Taiwan – that probably doesn’t hurt my opinion of it.

The other major bread is, of course, na’an, which is also unleavened. While roti is cooked on a greased skillet, na’an is cooked inside a tandoori oven, so it’s dry, yet still pliable. I love na’an with a deep, consuming desire and I ate a lot of it here. You can get this in a variety of flavours – egg, plain, garlic, even caramel (I didn’t get to try this one, unfortunately). It always comes with daal for dipping – it seems to be impossible to consume na’an without it being coated in something. I’m not going to argue with tradition on this one.

I think chappattis can be found in Malaysia as well, but we didn’t see them.

One last sort-of bread is murtabak. One could say it’s like stuffed roti, but I’m not sure if that’s right. Supposedly, it’s a mix of egg, onions, and meat (I had chicken), covered with or stuffed in roti dough and fried up. I couldn’t find any chicken when I ordered this; it tasted like an omelet wrapped in roti. It wasn’t something I’d recommend or try again – I’d rather eat a couple of roti by themselves. Too bad murtabak!


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