Roti - it's so been done. At least here.
Still, this Kota Baru Old Market vendor's technique is intriguing - and the result flavorsome - enough to merit another post devoted to this snacktime (ie. anytime) favorite.
Initially, the method here is indistinguishable from that at other stalls. Dough is flattened on a well-greased surface,
then tossed and spun,
and flipped and twirled,
until its surface area has expanded several-fold (and its thickness has decreased by the same measure).
It's after the slap-down, when the tissue paper-thin dough is laid back to rest on slick prep counter, that things get interesting. In the blink of an eye, this roti master pinches an edge of dough between thumb and forefinger and pulls it straight up to eye level, simultaneously drawing a small circle in the air to form the dough into a long, twisted rope. Lowered back to the work surface and wrapped around itself, the rope becomes a shiny, dough-encased air bubble (see the opening pic). At this point it's left aside, under plastic, to rest for 5 or so minutes.
When he receives an order our guy pulls out a bubble, smashes it flat, then pops it right onto the griddle (egg roti, before hitting the pan, are rolled again, drizzled with lightly beaten yolk and white, and folded into a squarish envelope).
Though we observed other roti vendors in Kota Baru employing the same rope-and-bubble technique, none allowed their dough blobs to sit a bit before griddling. I'm convinced that this master's bubble-and-rest method is the secret to his superbly light, airily layered roti.
That, and the fact that instead of slicing it with a knife, he lightly smashes each roti between his two open palms, first horizontally and then vertically, breaking it along its natural fault lines. The idea is similar to that which dictates that parmesan reggiano cheese be broken with a chisel, never cut: a break along the natural fissures in the cheese (or the roti) lets the layers speak for themselves. More texture = more flavor.
Accompanying daal and curry? Good, I guess. For me, this snack was all about the dough.
Roti Canai Ramli, on the Jalan Tengku Petra Semerak side of the Old Market (Pasar Besar). Morning to mid-afternoon.