Buttery, crisp-edged, yet possessed of distinctive elasticity and chew, this Malaysian descendant of Paratha bread from southern India takes some time to prepare, but is a fun project that’s well worth the commitment. It’s invariably served with a meat or vegetable curry stew for dipping although my nephews Hunter and Garrett like dipping into granulated sugar. This same dough can be stuffed with all sorts of fillings.
For simple versions an egg is cracked in center, then some add sliced chilies and onion, and a very common version is called Murtabak when a dry curry is used a hearty filling, making it a complete meal. When fillings like eggs or lentil puree are folded in, they are stretched as for plain roti, and then topped with a flavorful mixture, folded in from all four sides, and then transferred to griddle. The Thais use a similar dough to create a sweet snack with sliced bananas drizzled with condensed milk.
It takes some practice to master the stretching, pulling and folding that gives this bread its signature texture. Before you make this dish for the first time, try to watch the video at www.southeastasianflavors.com to see me make it for you! A standing mixer can be used to eliminate some of the work of hand-mixing the dough. Use the “hook” attachment for best results.
Timing Note: This dough needs at least six hours to rest but can be made the day before.
© 2008 Robert Danhi. All rights reserved.