Roti canai makers flock to Singapore


Photos By ZAZALI MUSA

Mohd Razul says it is not easy to get experienced roti canai makers now.

MALAYSIA’S roti canai tops the list as the best bread in the world by the online travel guide Taste Atlas that promotes traditional food worldwide.

The Malaysian all-time favourite delicacy received the same 4.9 ranking as the pandebono from Colombia, making both dishes the world’s highest rated breads in September 2023.

Joining roti canai in the top 10 ranking are butter garlic naan from India, nan-e barbari from Iran, baguette from France, piadina romagnola from Romania and pan de yuca from Colombia.

Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association (Perusim) secretary-general Hussein Ibrahim, however, said being declared the world’s best bread did not make hiring roti canai makers easier.

“Mamak restaurants have been facing difficulties getting roti canai makers since the opening of the borders between Malaysia and Singapore on April 1, 2022,’’ he said.

Hussein said the majority of them had waited patiently for the reopening of the borders between the two countries during the Covid-19 pandemic to cross over to Singapore to work at eateries selling roti canai or known as roti parata in the republic.

He said the daily wage for a roti canai maker in Johor Baru was between RM80 and RM90. However, although the sum was good for those who did not excel academically, locals were not keen to take up the job.

Malaysia’s roti canai has been named the best bread in the world by the online travel guide Taste Atlas.Malaysia’s roti canai has been named the best bread in the world by the online travel guide Taste Atlas.According to Hussein, a roti canai maker working at a hawker centre in Singapore is paid S$50 (RM171) daily, while experienced roti canai makers working at Indian restaurants can command between S$70 and S$100 (RM240 and RM343).

“Majority of roti canai makers working in Singapore are Malaysians as Singaporeans, like their Malaysian counterparts, are not interested in the job,’’ added Hussein.

Roti canai makers in mamak restaurants in Johor Baru, he said, start working on a split shift from 4.30am to 10am and 5pm to 2am and their job is making the bread and nothing else.

Hussein said most restaurants now buy ready-made roti canai dough from suppliers in Johor Baru unlike before, when making the dough was done at the restaurants.

“They only have to knead the dough, turning them into plain roti, roti canai with onions, eggs or sardines as requested by customers,’’ said Hussein.

He said roti canai will remain the staple for mamak restaurants in Malaysia as the bread can be eaten throughout the day.

Warung Agil Roti Canai Kampung Pasir, Johor Baru proprietor Mohd Razul Agil said he paid about RM70 daily for a new roti canai maker and RM80 for an experienced person.

Unlike the earlier days, roti canai makers do not have to knead the dough manually as it is now done by machine.

“It is hard to get an experienced roti canai maker and the only way is to train a newbie, “ said Mohd Razul, adding that he is now training his staff who prepare drinks to make roti canai.

Normally, a new person is able to master the art of making roti canai within a month or two, he said.

His stall uses about 25kg of flour daily to make roti canai.

Although the eatery also sold soto, lontong, mee goreng, mee hoon goreng and nasi lemak, roti canai was the best-seller.

“We offer a wide range of gravies or curries for our customers to eat with roti canai and it sets us apart from other nearby roti canai stalls,’’ he said.

Among the curries available are beef, mutton, fish, chicken, dhal and sardine.

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