Mar 09

Roti Jala : Malaysian Lace Pancakes.



Roti Jala with Beef Rendang copy




Isn’t it funny how it is the simplest of things that take up most of your time accomplishing … and often to disastrous results? Today was one such day for me and it really did my head in. For months now (… actually, it’s been two years) I have been trying to teach myself how to make roti jala, a Malaysian crêpe-like pancake containing coconut milk and tumeric. Making the batter is easy enough … simply lump everything in and whisk to form a thin batter. But getting it to cook right and to look right was a whole other ballgame for me. Uuuugh … it was frustrating then, and it was frustrating still today. The issue here is to get the batter to hit the hot griddle pan in thin ribbons in order to create that perfect netting effect. I tried it the last time and it came out awkward, thick and nasty. It did not resemble the delicate golden crêpe we’ve all come to know and love.



Roti jala literally means “net pancake” and it is usually eaten with a curry of some sort. The batter is fairly thin and flavoured with coconut milk and a pinch of salt. Now, to get nice ribbons on the pan you will need one of these (no freakin’ idea what it’s called … so don’t ask). Batter goes in at the top and comes out in nice thin ribbons at the bottom … or so they say, in theory.



Roti Jala with Beef Rendang1 (640x478)




I had my mother send this to me all the way from Malaysia and it did absolutely nothing to preserve my sanity. The trick to getting nice ribbons is to get the batter consistency spot on. Too thick and it will not flow properly … too thin and the ribbons will simply flow into one another. Filling this mould and getting it to the pan without leaving trails of batter all over your kitchen and stove is quite the challenge.



Roti Jala with Beef Rendang2



I soon gave up and canned the whole idea. The so-called specialty mould that promised perfect roti jala everytime was shoved in a drawer and forgotten for the next two years while I resigned myself to failure. That is of course until I stumbled across a ‘how to‘ video by Seasaltwithfood in which she used a homemade squeezy bottle to squirt batter into the pan without the mess. GENIUS! Now why didn’t I think of that?? All she did was take a plastic soda bottle, punched three small holes into the cap and voila! It was brilliant … only problem was now I wanted to do one for myself on the fly.



Roti Jala with Beef Rendang3



So I found myself a bottle and rinsed it out thoroughly.



Roti Jala with Beef Rendang4




Found the hammer but didn’t know where to find nails. Duuuh … it’s always when you want something that you can’t find it. So I settled for a pathetic little screw and made the most of it.



Roti Jala with Beef Rendang5



After quite a struggle I finally manage to puncture a few holes in the cap; my thumbs took quite a beating but it was worth it. Haha. Coz now I could simply pour the batter in it and control the squeeze of how much batter goes into the pan.



Roti Jala with Beef Rendang6



See, it’s awesome! At the moment of making the very first perfect roti jala, my heart sang. This is a pancake two years in the making … geez. And finally I get to sample the fruits of my labour, and it was good. What wasn’t so good was the mess I had left behind on the kitchen bench … multiple bowls, jugs and spatulas lying about caked in yellow pancake batter. R. couldn’t even get to the coffee machine, but he did nick some of the not so pretty pancakes that I had cast off into the rejected corner. The nice ones I folded up into quarters and served with the leftover beef rendang I had made two days earlier.




Roti Jala batter



  • 1.5 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1  cup thin coconut milk
  • ½ cup plain water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp  turmeric powder
  • oil to grease




  1. Sift flour into bowl and add salt + tumeric + sugar.
  2. Stir in beaten egg, water and coconut milk and beat smooth. Use a whisk. Then strain out any lumps using a fine sieve.
  3. Pour into your new handy-dandy squeeze bottle.
  4. Grease and heat a medium non-stick pan on low heat.
  5. Squeeze out the desired amount of batter and make swirl patterns over the hot pan.
  6. Cook until set turn over onto a dish. You will only need to cook one side of it. No flipping required.
  7. After the top is set and done or when the bottom turns light brown, transfer the Roti Jala out and fold it into triangle shape.
  8. Continue until batter finishes.






Roti Jala with Beef Rendang7



To serve:

Arrange a few Roti Jala on a serving plate and add some chicken curry, fish curry or the like, and serve immediately. So this was something I did just to eat with leftover beef rendang from the previous two days. No more pulut rice. I am saving the rice for other sticky rice dishes this coming week. Also, I may take a break from the Malaysian feast and divert my attention to other styles of cooking before coming back to it. I somehow feel like I am all coconut-milked out and I crave new flavours. So see you next time and do join me on my next culinary adventure.




~ Enjoy! ~





Permanent link to this article: http://foodflurries.com/savoury/roti-jala-malaysian-lace-pancakes


  1. claire

    its so hard to find roti jala here these days….

    1. bubviv

      yeah I know. Sadness. Although I do think you can still find it at hotel high-teas … but who want’s to pay RM 60 just for the off chance they serve roti jala on the menu?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *