When I saw how the humble Roti Jala (which most Malaysians would know) was 'christened' Lace Crepes over the Net, all I could say was Wow! How glamourous! Like how Cinderella became a princess overnight when prince charming swept her off her feet :) Exaggeration overboard? ...but standout in a menu it will I am sure :) Jala literally means Net and Roti is Bread, had I been the one to do the christening, the word Net will make its presence, it wouldn't have crossed my mine to replace it with something so intricate as Lace! So vain and uppity! Hats off to the one who thought of it !
Actually, this is very similar to crepe. Made from similar ingredients except that coconut milk is used in this one minus the butter plus some turmeric powder. The other thing is the appearance. While the crepe is like a thin piece of pancake, this one uses a mould to get the effect of a circular shaped net. Herein, lies the challenge, this is where one takes pride of her 'roti jala'; the more net like and the thinner, the better. Pretty obvious that there's not much claiming that I can do yet :(
The batter is poured into the mould and you twirl it in circular motion to create the net effect onto a hot non-stick pan. The trick for a beautiful net is to ensure the batter is thin and smooth (by pouring it through a strain first) and to put in a considerable amount of batter into the mould (3/4 full) so that it creates a force that makes a consistent flow through the holes otherwise you will get polka dots instead of nets!
These crepes are a delicacy of the Malay origin, typically served during festivities and eaten with curries. The serving dish is another thing that deserves mentioning, a modified version of a traditional Malay food cover (known as Tudung Saji). It has a serving tray attached to it. In a tropical country like ours, food has to be covered constantly to prevent flies from settling on them. The traditional Malay food cover has a net like material (yes, nets again) sewn on to small frames made from the mengkuang (from the screwpine family), before plastic ones reared its head that is...
Enough said, one thing that we Malaysians are truly proud of is the variety and diversity in our food, a heritage from our multicultural society. The taste? Delicious. I think besides making it look pretty, the holes serve a purpose too. It makes it lighter and less overpowering compared to a whole complete piece. It goes very well with curries. Little one had at least 10 pieces in total over lunch and again for tea. Need I say more?