PETALING JAYA: Tucking into a plate of roti canai with some curry on the side has been a staple for Malaysians since the flatbread came to this nation decades ago from South India.
But the roti canai is not exactly healthy food. It is high in starch and fat, and has been linked to health issues such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease.
For that reason, two homegrown companies decided to band together to come up with the world’s healthiest roti canai as their contribution to a leaner Malaysia.
Frozen food manufacturer Kawan Food Berhad and food ingredient specialist Holista CollTech Ltd will be rolling out the first-ever low glycaemic index (GI) flatbreads in Malaysia by April, with the first items being roti canai and capati.
Holista, which is listed in Australia and headquartered here, will use its proprietary mix of ingredients trademarked as GI Lite to develop these low GI flatbreads.
Instead of the wheat used in conventional roti canai, the low GI version will be made with GI Lite ingredients such as okra, dhal, barley and fenugreek, said Holista chief executive officer Datuk Dr M. Rajen.
“We started our work on low GI research eight years ago and came out with the world’s first low GI capati. Since then, we have learnt a lot and come up with low GI muffins, noodles and biscuits. We are now working on low GI popia skin and pau.
“For the last six months, we’ve been working on the low GI roti canai recipe using GI Lite, which we formulated three years ago,” he told reporters after the product presentation at a hotel here yesterday.
GI Lite ingredients comprise Asian food sources and contain no additives, chemicals or genetically modified organisms, said Dr Rajen.
The testing for the flatbread products will be done at the University of Sydney as per international standards for GI.
“The GI is a way to measure how fast your blood sugar rises when you take certain foods. High GI foods such as chips and cakes, which have a GI of 70 and above, cause blood sugar to rise rapidly.
“Low GI foods are the best way to maintain stable blood sugar as they cause a slow and predictable rise and fall of blood sugar,” said Dr Rajen.
Holista is targeting to achieve a GI level that is 40% lower than the current global average reading of 70 for flatbreads. Low GI foods are those with a GI of less than 55.
Kawan Food managing director Timothy Tan said the low GI roti canai, which will be made with double hydrogenated margarine – a healthier fat than the ghee used in conventional roti canai – will also have lower fat content but without compromising the classic taste of Malaysia’s signature flatbread.
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