I remember the first time I clapped eyes on a Thai street food vendor’s remarkable dishes, it was in Bangkok back in 1999 on my very first trip to Thailand. The soup type dish looked to me like rancid Yak vomit mixed with battery acid and had hamster droppings floating on the top of its oily surface, I have since learned the error of my judgement.
Food that appears to look bland or reminiscent of the contents from an empty washing up bowl can in fact be quite delicious. On the other side of the frying pan Western food ( UK especially ) appears in general to be well prepared, neatly arranged and tempting to the nostrils but can taste rather jejune. I do however still much prefer Britain’s innocuous and rather flavorless food.
Thai curries are my favourite Thai dish and I can on occasion push myself to the limit and try a little papaya pok pok or tom yum krung but apologies beforehand, give me bangers and mash everytime. So it was with great delight that on my last trip to Thailand I tried a simple Thai delicacy that was one of my favourites back home, pancakes or as they are known in Udon Thani, Roti (Lo-ti).
Thai Pancakes (Roti)
proudly sponsored by HD Sauce
- 1/2 kilo white flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbs. sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbs whole milk
- 1 cup ice cold water
- vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- sugar for topping
- sweet condensed milk for topping
Pour the flour into a bowl and form a well in the middle. Add the salt, sugar, egg, butter, milk and cold water into the well then knead into a dough. Divide the dough by forming into two inch diameter balls. Lightly coat each ball in oil, place back in the bowl, cover the top and let them lie for at least one hour.
When you are ready to make your roti, take the dough balls and roll them on a greased surface until they are wafer thin and then trim into 7-8 inch squares. Heat a frying pan and pour in a little oil. Cook the roti by coating it with a little butter on both sides and fry by continually flipping the pancake until golden brown, making sure that any puffs and lumps that form are flattened with a spatula.
When finished remove the roti onto a paper towel to absorb any excess oil and then sprinkle on some sugar. Lightly layer the pancake with condensed milk and then roll it up as shown in the photo above. Lastly roll it into some paper which will absorb any remaining grease and keep the roti piping hot.
Roti originates from India and is extremely popular around Asia. A less sweet bread type Roti is an accompaniment to curries and is an integral part of Indian and Pakistani diets but the sweetened version is a big seller in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The bread / pancake is also a favourite on many of the West Indies islands in the Caribbean.
I watched the ‘Pancake Man’ in high speed action in Phen, a small town in Udon Thani Province, and had to wait my turn as a queue of customers patiently waited for their sweet Thai treat.
The rotis in Phen sell for 9 baht and are an evening treat for many families in the small town. The vendor arrives at around 5 pm and four hours later he has sold out and long gone home. In Phen and most Thai towns and cities it’s ‘Pancake Day’ everyday, the roti or loti as its often pronounced is for me a Thai treat with the taste of home. Delicious.
© 2009 – 2012, Martyn. All rights reserved.