Mmm… roti jala. Serve it at any buffet and Malaysians will patiently queue to pile their plates sky high with rolls of these intricate yellow lace pancakes. Most of us have it drowned in chicken curry, but lace pancakes can be eaten sweet, paired with some decadent kuah durian. Not everyone eats durian though, so we wanted to make lace pancakes with a twist, something worthy of a fancy restaurant. And when some packets of powdered green tea by Fulleaf Tea Store landed at our desks, flashbulbs went off in our minds. Green tea lace pancakes.
One of the reasons lace pancakes isn’t that common at home or restaurants – or are sold at a higher than typical price – is because it does require some skill to get that ‘jala’ right. While it’s not rocket science exactly, getting the perfect swirl does require practise. And practise. And then some more practise. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be jala-ing it like a pro and wondering why you were so hesitant to try making them in the first place. And trust us, this is definitely a life-skill worth having.
So, are you ready to try something new? Let’s make some green tea lace pancakes. Oh, and let’s not forget that delicious gula Melaka custard on the side.
Green tea lace pancakes
- 20g (8 tsp) green tea powder
- 300g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 115g (1/3 cup + ¼ cup) coconut cream
- 2 eggs
- 480ml (2 cups) water
- 60g (4 tbsp) sugar
- 5g (1 tsp) salt
- 2-3 leaves pandan leaves, one edge tied together with a rubber band
- 120ml (1/2 cup) cooking oil
Gula melaka custard
- 135g (3/4c) grated coconut sugar (gula Melaka), packed
- 30g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter
- 3g (1 tsp) vanilla essence
- 30g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
- 480ml (2 cups) milk
Making the batter for green tea lace pancakes
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour then water. Give the ingredients a good whisk until it is evenly mixed and most of the lumps have broken down. We recommend using a handheld mixer instead of a regular whisk, unless you’re planning for it to be arm-day in the kitchen.
Add flour and water to a large mixing bowl
- Next, add coconut cream, eggs, salt, sugar and green tea powder.
- Whisk until the batter is smooth and the green tea powder is thoroughly mixed in. You don’t want any remaining clumps of green tea powder to remain.
- Once mixed, run the batter through a sieve into another bowl to remove any leftover clumps.
Note: the instructions above are for a handheld mixer or whisk. If you are using a food processor or blender instead, add the ingredients to the relevant vessels and process them accordingly.
Batter consistency is very important when making lace pancakes. It shouldn’t be too watery, nor should it be too thick. The recipe above should yield the right consistency, however, results can sometimes vary depending on various factors.
If you want to be sure, fill your roti jala funnel with batter, then let it drip out of the funnel. If it takes about thirty to fourty seconds to empty completely, your batter is about right. However, the best way to test it is to cook it, as funnel sizes can vary. Follow the “Cooking green tea lace pancakes” instructions below to test your batter. If adjustment is required, add a little more flour if your batter is too watery, or a little more water if it is too thick. Go by 1 tsp increments until you reach the desired consistency.
Heating the oil
- Lay a sheet of aluminium foil on your kitchen surface, close to where you will be cooking the green tea lace pancakes. Also prepare a plate.
- Heat cooking oil in your skillet or pan over high heat.
- Use your tied pandan leaves to ‘stir’ the oil. This releases some of the delicious pandan aroma into the oil. However, do not dip the whole pandan leaf into the oil.
- Your oil is hot enough when it starts to sizzle around the leaf. Transfer the oil back into a small heat-proof bowl. Do not discard the pandan leaves. It will be your ‘brush’. Turn the heat down to medium.
Cooking green tea lace pancakes
- Fill your roti jala funnel with batter. Depending on the size of your funnel, each lace pancake uses almost half a funnel’s worth of batter. However, add more as the pressure will help the batter flow out of the funnel more evenly.
- Working quickly, bring the funnel over to the pan. Start by making a flower pattern then filling in with a continuous circular motion. We found that to create even strokes, the tips of the funnel should be about 3cm from the surface of the pan, and that when creating the patterns, move your hand in circular motions instead of ‘shaking’ the funnel. The trick is to be quick but not too quick. Too fast and you’ll end up with dots instead of strokes, too slow and the ‘lace’ will be too fat. Aim for 2-3mm strokes to make pretty green tea lace pancakes. Unless you’re a pro, you may require several rounds of practise before you get the hang of jala-ing. Don’t worry if your first few attempts don’t look very pretty, they’re still edible! It is also important to keep your strokes tight and make sure they connect.
Note: batter consistency is very important in getting even strokes. If the batter is too watery, your strokes will be fat, no matter how fast you move. Too thick and your batter won’t flow smoothly.
- Once you’ve completed the lace pancake pattern, ‘brush’ some of the cooked oil onto the exposed side of the jala with the pandan leaves. One quick dip of oil is sufficient.
- Your roti jala should cook in roughly 15-20 seconds. If it’s cooking much faster than you can handle, turn the heat down a little.
- Use a thin non-stick or metal spatula to carefully lift one edge of the lace pancake. Slide the spatula under the pancake and gently remove green tea lace pancakes from the pan. The roti jala should come out very easily. If it doesn’t, try using a better non-stick pan, or add a little bit more oil to your pancake. If you’re using a metal spatula, be very careful not to ‘rub’ it against the pan to avoid it scratching your pan. Flip the pancake over before transferring it to the aluminium foil so the brighter green of the pancake will be underneath.
- Repeat the steps above until the batter is finished. Fold each lace pancake while waiting for the other to cook – or get someone to help you. You do not want to pile unfolded lace pancakes on top of each other as they can become entangled and you’ll end up with a mess! Folding instructions are below.
Folding green tea lace pancakes
Some people like rolling their roti jala, some like folding it. While others fold it in quarters. There’s no wrong way to fold a jala, as long as you do. This ensures the individual lace pancakes do not get tangled up or torn as they can be somewhat fragile. Plus, folded or rolled roti jala is a lot easier to serve and for guests to help themselves to.
- Start by folding the lace pancake into a third.
- The fold the opposite side over the first fold to form a long rectangle.
- Take one end of the rectangle and once again, fold it into a third.
- Fold the opposite corner over the first fold, making sure the edges of the roti jala do not stick out.
- Fold it in half.
- Repeat steps above until all green tea lace pancakes are folded.
Gula Melaka custard
While green tea lace pancakes taste good as is, it pairs really well with this decadent gula Melaka custard. This creamy sauce isn’t technically custard since it doesn’t make use of eggs or custard powder, but the texture is quite similar. The gula Melaka gives the custard a light caramelized sweetness that isn’t overpowering, and makes you kind of want to eat it with every single sweet thing. And why not? It’ll go great with regular pancakes, apple pie, bread and butter pudding and more!
- In a small pot or saucepan, combine flour and grated coconut sugar. Do not turn on the heat just yet.
- Whisk until the flour and sugar are evenly mixed. It’s ok if a few clumps remain as gula Melaka tends to be quite moist.
- Turn the stovetop on to medium heat, then whisk in the milk, stirring regularly until it starts to simmer and thicken.
- The sauce is ready when you can swipe a finger across the back of the spoon and it remains clean.
- Turn off the fire and add in butter and vanilla. Stir until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
- Serve with green tea lace pancakes in a separate bowl, or pour it over the top.
That green tea factor
Are green tea lace pancakes good, or are they good? That slight hint of bitterness from the green tea in a lightly caramelized lace pancakes. And then there’s that sauce. Oh my. There’s that comfort factor too, that familiarity in the shape and taste of roti jala paired with something completely different, the therapeutic repetitiveness of the whole jala process, and all those extra vitamins and nutrients. Heck, our green tea lace pancakes sound like the perfect treat for a little mind, body and soul healing, or at least, happiness. And every bite is definitely pure happiness, with stamps approval received from the young and roti jala purists alike.
Thanks to Butterkicap, source: