Food Fight!

The Roti Rumble!

by The Charlie Photography FriedChillies on Fri, April 15, 2011
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Stock up your freezer with some roti for when those hunger pangs hit late at night. Or simply heat it up for a quick family meal with some dhal and curry. We scoped out the tastiest frozen rotis out there. Here's what we found...

Who passes the frozen roti taste test?

My new favorite lazy meal these days is a tin of curry and a couple of instant rotis. It takes a little longer to prepare than a packet of instant noodles, sure, but it fills you up for longer and is just that much more nutritious. Since I usually just grab the first pack I see in the freezer section, I decided to round up some testers to decide for me which brand of roti I should reach for the next time I stock up for munchies.

Taste Tester #1: The Roti Binger
Qualifications: I've lived outside of Malaysia most of my life and it was always hard to find good roti. Whenever I came back here for holidays I would gorge myself on roti seeking out the best around. So I'm an occasional roti binge eater.

Taste Tester #2: The Roti Connoisseur
Qualifications: I’m always on the hunt for good roti canai. So much so, there was once I cycled all the way from TTDI to Subang Jaya to have some! If I order roti and they serve me a cold one, I will tell them either cook a fresh one or order a “roti petak”. Nothing worse than a cold roti, I tell you. To me, the mark of good roti canai is that it should be tasty no matter what you serve it with, whether it’s sweet or savoury.

Taste Tester #3: The Roti Addict
Qualifications: Roti canai is one of my comfort foods. It’s a good cure for when I have one of my insomniac nights; just go to a nearby mamak for roti kosong at 2am and it’ll put me to sleep soon enough once I get back home. On a side note, I’ve been having a craving for roti canai with sambal kerang lately, I don’t know why...

Introducing the test subjects:

Sri Melur Jaya - Claiming to be “Malaysian’s Best & Original Roti Canai”, this brand comes from the Restoran Sri Melur Jaya franchise in Subang Jaya. Now famous for the roti canai they serve all day, they sell these packs at their restaurants so you can take a taste of their rotis home with you.

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Kart’s - With a “new and improved recipe”, they stake claim as “Malaysia’s favorite”. Having been around since the late 1980s, they were for the longest time the go-to frozen roti canai brand that most households had in their freezers. Unless of course, your mother bought...

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Kawan Flaky - Laccha paratha, the packaging says they are “just like handmade”. They gave Kart’s pretty stiff competition back in the day (they’ve been around since the 1970s! Oh, my). Now with many other brands coming in, the big two have lost their hold somewhat.

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Kawan Wellness Selection - Kawan’s whole wheat parathas, using “stone-milled atta”. Marketed as a healthier alternative, it claims to have 50% less fat than regular paratha. It is also trans-fat free, improved with olive oil and more fiber.

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All brands advertise that they do not contain any preservatives.

The Tests:

Eaten on its own

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Eaten with sugar & condensed milk

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Eaten with “kuah banjir” of dhal and curry

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The Verdict:

The Roti Binger

Sri Melur Jaya is chewy and flavorful, the one that comes closest to the real thing. It also tasted the best with sugar & condensed milk, and also with kuah banjir. Kart’s is very flakey, yet crispy and fluffy too. Kawan Flaky is also pretty flaky but it’s quite dry and I found it lacking in flavour. Kawan Wellness did not taste or feel like roti canai, but more like capati. Which is not a bad thing, just that perhaps they might want to think about rebranding it! It’s more dense than the others we tried and not fluffy. It also tasted weird with the condensed milk; I don’t recommend trying it. It’s alright with kuah banjir though as it makes the texture more palatable.

The Roti Connoisseur

The top two for me are Sri Melur Jaya and Kart’s. Sri Melur Jaya’s is almost as good as the one at the restaurant’s, very buttery and flavorful for a frozen roti. Kart’s is a lighter version - flaky but lacks the buttery-ness of Sri Melur Jaya’s roti. Kawan Flaky is decent but I found that you really have to eat it when it’s hot. Once it gets cold, it tastes so... wrong. Kawan Wellness is alright too, though I think I prefer it as a substitute for a tortilla or pita bread, especially when making kebab rolls and wraps. Don’t serve this “kuah banjir” style, it doesn’t really work. If I were to pick a winner, it’d be Sri Melur Jaya. It tasted the best in all tests!

The Roti Addict

The best one with condensed milk for me was Sri Melur Jaya. Its doughiness is a little like Malay-style roti canai, which matches the sweetness of the condensed milk quite well. Kart’s is very flaky and crisp, quite the opposite of Sri Melur Jaya. It’s still quite good though, so I suppose it depends on whether you like fluffy or flaky roti. I really liked this for kuah banjir, as the flaky texture works with the curries well. I didn’t like either of the Kawan brands; the Flaky was a bit plain, and the Wellness was not at all tasty to me.



And the winner is...

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Sri Melur Jaya by a mile! We suppose it really helps to have entire neighborhoods in Subang Jaya as your focus groups. Try the freshly made roti canais at Sri Melur Jaya in their SS19 and USJ16 outlets and tell us how the frozen versions compare (we think they come pretty close!). Looks like I’ll be stocking up on Sri Melur Jaya for those midnight meals...

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