Without doubt, the most favourite meal to start the day for most Malaysians is a plate of roti canai. Pair that with a glass of teh tarik (or in my case, nescafe tarik) and we have the quintessential Malaysian breakfast.
Roti canai is a simple flat bread that originated from India. I first knew of this bread by its original name of paratha.There are a few theories on how the Malay name of canai came to be... Wikipedia offers three possibilities.
What started off as a simple plain dough-only bread has now evolved into a few versions. We now can order roti telur (an egg beaten into the folds of the bread), roti telur bawang (the previous version plus chopped onions), roti planta (with a knob of margarine), roti sardin (with some sardines) and even roti pisang (with sliced bananas). Another popular variety, at least here in JB, is roti tampal. I had breakfast with a friend from Penang recently and when he heard me ordering roti tampal, he was a bit puzzled. Roti tampal is made by frying an egg (bull's eye style) and placing an already fried plain roti on top of it so the egg sticks to the bread... hence the `tampal' name. The skill in doing this is to make sure the egg sticks and the yolk remains round and not fully cooked. This way, you will have the nice gooey yolk smearing over the bread pieces as you tuck in.... yummy.
Even the way roti canai is served has different variants. While the standard sauce or gravy accompanying the bread is plain curry, most mamak shops offer dhal-curry or fish-curry. Most Malay stalls also offer a dollop of sambal tumis on the side. Some patrons prefer the gravy spread over the bread and soaking it... the term being used here is `kuah banjir'. Others prefer the bread to be shredded to pieces first before serving (roti koyak). And then there are others who like their roti canai served with sugar or even condensed milk.
When I worked in the UAE a few years ago, it was easy for me to have paratha for breakfast because there are many Indian restaurants. A standard order of paratha comes in two pieces... it seems that the Indian workers over there have large appetites. But that's just about it... no roti tampal or roti telur or roti bawang or whatever else have you. So when it comes to variety, there is no place like home.
Ok then... enough of writing. Time to get my morning dose of roti tampal and nescafe tarik...