Although not considered to be a ‘traditional’ Thai food, roti has been eaten by Thais for as long as anyone can remember, and dates back to the fourteenth century, when migrants from Malaysia and India arrived, along with their cuisines.
In this variation on roti, the flatbread is stuffed with spiced minced meat and vegetables, then pan-fried until golden.
- 70 ml (2¼ oz) grapeseed oil, plus extra for greasing and frying
- ½ tbsp unsalted butter
- 1½ tsp curry powder
- 1 onion, diced
- 200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) chicken
- ½ tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
- fine sea salt, to taste
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 3 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
- cucumber relish, to serve
- 5 coriander (cilantro) roots, scraped clean and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tsp whole white peppercorns
- vegetable oil, for greasing
- 300 g (10½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 40 ml (1¼ fl oz) evaporated milk or full-cream (whole) milk
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 egg
- 15 g (½ oz) ghee or butter
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
This recipe needs to be started 1 day in advance, as the dough needs overnight refrigeration.
Sitting time: 20 minutes
- First, make the roti dough. Lightly grease a baking tray with the vegetable oil and set aside. Place the flour in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, thoroughly whisk together the milk, salt, egg and 130 ml (4½ fl oz) water. Pour the mixture into the well in the centre of the flour and mix until a dough begins to form. Add the ghee and knead for 5 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Cover and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
- Divide the dough into four equal portions. Grease your fingers with a little vegetable oil and shape the portions into balls. Place the dough balls on the greased baking tray, cover with plastic wrap or muslin (cheesecloth) and refrigerate overnight.
- To make the three-spice paste, in a mortar and pestle, pound the coriander roots briefly, then add the garlic and pound the mixture until you have a coarse paste. In a dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the peppercorns until fragrant then add to the mortar and pestle and pound the mixture into a fine paste. You will need 1 tbsp for this recipe, the rest will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Heat the oil and butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium–high heat. Add the three-spice paste and curry powder and stir until fragrant. Sauté the onion until translucent, then add the chicken and stir-fry for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Add the caster sugar and season with salt to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Remove the dough balls from the refrigerator 10–15 minutes before you plan to assemble the roti mataba. Grease your work surface and fingers with oil, then place a dough ball onto the work surface and flatten it out with your hands into a sheet roughly 2 mm thick and three times as wide as it is long. Spread one-quarter of the chicken filling over the centre third of the dough sheet, top with 3 tablespoons of beaten egg and sprinkle with one quarter of the sliced spring onion. Fold the left and right thirds of the dough sheet over the filling to create a square package and press the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough balls and filling.
- Heat a little grapeseed oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Working with one parcel at a time, pan-fry the roti mataba for 2–3 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a serving plate and serve hot with cucumber relish.
Recipe and images from Bangkok Local by Sareen Rojanametin and Jean Thamthanakorn, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99