Roti John – and how did this weird fusiony name come about? Well, the story goes that somewhere in Malaysia, a roti (bread) man put this together for some generic Western tourist (from what I read, all Caucasian men were just called John!) and hence the name roti john came about. Or it is, as Wikipedia suggests, because the baguette was a western bread rather than the more usual Indian and Chinese breads available?
Either way, it’s still a spiced meaty omelette cooked into a baguette. Some recipes have you cook the omelette separately and then sandwich it into the cut and toasted long bun but I prefer mine cooked in, just to stick to the more traditional preparation. I learned the hard way that a traditional French baguette isn’t the way to go with this – it’s too thick and makes the bread to egg/meat ratio too high and judging from studies on Flickr photos, I’m pretty sure it’s a soft long white bun that’s used in Malaysia and Singapore.
Here I’ve used minced beef and a curry powder that turned out to be quite hot and so left out the chopped chili. As with most recipes though, this is very adaptable so feel free to change the meat or leave it out completely, to add some chopped garlic and/or chopped spring onion, etc, etc. I served mine with a sweet-ish chili sauce which is a very common condiment (so is mayonnaise) and sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, which make for a refreshing counterpart. I think roti john is normally a breakfast item in Malaysia and Singapore but I reckon it’s just as good for lunch, dinner or even a snack as it’s fast, easy and hey, it even multiplies quite nicely for a crowd.
1 small onion, quartered and finely sliced (or chopped)
125g minced beef
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small chili, fined chopped (optional)
3 large eggs
4 long, thin buns (mine were called ranch rolls)
Heat a frying pan over medium heat and heat the oil. Toss in the onion and fry for about a minute before adding the minced beef. Brown the meat and add the chili (if using) and the tablespoon of curry powder. Continue cooking for a couple more minutes and then set this meat mixture aside in a bowl to cool. Wipe out the frying pan.
Split the buns lengthwise and toast them on both sides in the frying pan.
When the meat mixture has cooled a bit, crack in the eggs, add salt to taste and mix it all together. Return the pan to the heat (if it was taken off) and toss in a small pat of butter to melt. Spread the button around the pan. Spoon the egg and meat mixture on the inside surfaces on the buns and slap them down quickly onto the pan. Cook until the egg has set and has browned nicely. Repeat until all the buns and all the egg and meat mixture is used up. Serve the roti john hot – you can either keep them as open faced sandwiches or press the two halves together.