Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Roti Jala (Net Pancakes)

Edit 17/8/08: I've changed the recipe after a 4th attempt on making these pancakes. If no santan or any form of oil is used, the pancakes will turn out brittle and dry. Also different flours have different absorption capacity, so you need to add more water/santan or flour accordingly. Just test by doing a pancake and tweak (there, I've finally used that over-used word that's all over the food cyberworld) from there.


Wey said he'd never eaten roti jala (literally bread or pancakes net) before and I've always wanted to make some. I have only seen these lacy, delicate pancakes at Bits and Bites in Wisma Merdeka and I think whoever first made them was so clever and artsy. Roti jala looks much prettier than pancakes/flapjacks and crepes, don't you think?

I was in despair with the first few pancakes I made. The batter wouldn't come through, so I thinned it. When it still didn't come through, I cut the tips of the jala cup with kitchen scissors, and whatever dripped out didn't connect because they were blobs and dots:


I nearly gave up, disappointed that something that looked so easy can be so difficult. I had tried making taro ring the day before and although it tasted great, the texture was too solid. I was beginning to doubt my culinary capabilities. Thinned the batter further and slowly, the pancakes got better and better. However, when I ate one, I was disappointed. The pancake was very soft but I wanted a slight el dente bite. Made another batch of batter and this time I used tapioca flour instead. The result was very el dente pancakes that went perfect with my curry! Wow, I felt like I'm an iron chef.

Maybe that's why last night I actually dreamt of roti jala. There were two types, yellow and green. I remember dreaming that the green pancakes must be made using pandan leaves (fragrant leaves that is to Asian desserts as vanilla is to western) so the pancakes can be served as a dessert too (roti jala is traditionally eaten with savory dishes like curries). There was a vision of ice-cream with a green net pancake over it. Would you understand my excitement, that I actually dreamt a recipe, something I've never done before? And it was in technicolor. Do any of you dream recipes? Or dream in color? I'm looking forward to more of these dreams!

This was the first batch. You can see that the lace wasn't as fine. I colored my pancakes with tumeric (an orangy ginger) powder.

You can see the net's broken in many places because the batter was too thick, and the concentric circles didn't hold the net together.

Better now. The secret is to make small tight rings of batter that overlap so that they form a sturdy net. A bit of structural engineering huh. The engineer came home for lunch but wouldn't help me figure out how to strenghten my pancakes which were falling apart. I made many before I got it right.

And for the first time I cooked a delicious curry from scratch. Even Wey was impressed. What a nice day.

Roti Jala (Net Pancakes)
150g (1 cup) ordinary flour*
1/3 cup (50g) tapioca flour*
1 cup thick coconut milk**
1 to 1 1/4 cups water
1 egg
1/2 t salt
1 t tumeric powder (optional)
1/2 T veg oil or melted butter (optional)

*or use 200g ordinary flour but pancakes will not have a slight bite or el dente feel.
** or use thin santan if you are concerned about the saturated oil in coconut milk.

1. Mix everything together in a bowl, whisking until batter is very smooth. Let batter stand 5 min. Batter should be quite thin, and flow easily but not too thin or it will pool together instead of forming strands. Too thick or if you drizzle too fast, only beads or dots will form. Adjust with more flour or water till you get it right. Be patient. Drizzle at a medium speed to get lacier pancakes.

2. Grease a frying pan or a flat griddle. Using a jala cup, drizzle rings of batter in small circles until a net-like pancake is formed. If batter is too thick for your jala cup, thin it out a bit or cut the tips of the cup. Do not turn over, and do not let pancake brown. The pancake is done when the color changes completely, from whitish yellow to yellow, and at that point, roll up or fold into triangles while still in the pan and transfer to a serving plate. Serve with a curry.


ekeng said...

oh my oh my...This roti jala look soooo delicious...Kai ma, you're the best !!!!

ekeng said...

I'm salivating when i looking at the delicious chicken curry ;p

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

ekeng boy, still at work?? i'm off to bed now! g'nite n take care!

Anonymous said...

Selmi says ... wow... pandai!

triShie said...

you eat like, such a great variety of good food..like, everyday??
wow...i wonder how life must be like for your family...never a boring meal!!!
these look just positively yummy!! and i think you are an iron chef/baker...you haf a real passion that drives u to produce great food. like, i did scones once and it was horrible, i gave up. but you, you persist!!

Anonymous said...

You are such a capable lady...really pandai.
both the curry and pancakes looks gorgeous.

a feast, everyday said...

Tt's so good. I never even thought of attempting tt.

Danny Ng said...

wah wah wee wah...

very nice.

long time no visit here.

Big Boys Oven said...

Oh shit!(sorry for my words) . . . I am salivating infront of my computer looking at your net pancakes! so beautifully done with such bright yellow orangy colour! Must be BEST!

wmw said...

:) I posted on Naan, you have Roti Jala! Love them both!

Anonymous said...

You're really multi-talented when it comes to food.....

WoMbOk™♂ said...


I could just eat the last picture.

Hazza said...

I really admire your perserverence, especially in attempting a dish that is cheap to buy. I am sure the final result was immensely satisfying as it looked rather good. Would a flat non stick frying pan have been more suitable?

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

ekeng: tq jeijei, n i hope u rmbered to wear ur bib.

b: selmi can do better. maybe she shd blog her recipes too :D

trishie: i try to vary the meals..must show hub i'm worth keeping at home:D i guess ur right. if u enjoy smthing, u'll persist. n u r a great photographer, with ur own style so keep it up!

nee: tq, but i think u r better!

a feast: *wink* it is easy, try it soon.

danny: vee vee vah vah. so busy huh?

bboven: tq, ur cakes make me drool drip like a dog!

wmw: yes, yes, me too. now i wonder if i shd get tt clay oven..

anony: tq, i'm woman n can do more than just cook. multi-tasker :0

wombok: :D

hazza: yes, it truly was satisfying bc it was smthing i'd never tried before, n results were good. a flat pan or griddle is best bc it cooks evenly. i don't use non-stick btw.

Dumb and dumber :) said...

I think roti jala is indian?
SHould b able to get during the Puasa season at the bazaars :)

Anonymous said...

did u see rasamalaysia's net pancake?
I feel like, hey this is Terri's one! but from the bottom of my heart, i would say Terri's betteR!!

Denise Me

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

denise: tq! the batter consistency is very NB; takes quite a bit of practice, these pancakes.

dkakiledang said...

easy way, put 2 cups of water in blender , a little salt, 1 egg, 2 cups of regular flour. blend to pancake thickness, add milk or coconut milk, add flour if necessary. to create a more even design swirl in little circle from the outside moving inward while creating a bigger circle and fill up the center with circular movement.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the how-to tips on batter consistency and how pour the batter the right way, etc. I am just learning.

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