Roti John

When Speedy saw Bobby Chin making Roti John in an episode of Cafe Asia, he promised he’d make Roti John at home. And he did.

A popular hawker food in Malaysia and Singapore, Roti John is a sandwich and omelet in one. Beef, eggs, chopped shallots and chili paste are stirred together and spread on a split French baguette. The bread is cooked in a pan, on both sides, then sliced before serving. It may sound plain but the addition of chili paste — or sambal, as it is called in Singapore and Malaysia — really gives this sandwich omelet an amazing kick.

There are many stories about the origin of this dish as well as its name. According to one theory, the “John” is descriptive of the Western baguette. The second is a story about a roti (bread) man in Malaysia who whipped up the sandwich for a Western man. Since all Western men are often referred to as “John”, that’s how the sandwich purportedly got its name. I like the third story best:

The story goes that the dish was named after a caucasian called John who used to ask the cooks to whip up egg sandwiches for him. Roti is bread in Malay, therefore rendering the name Roti John.

It doesn’t really matter which story tells the true origin of this sandwich omelet. What really matters is that it is delicious and very easy to make.


  • 1 French baguette, the long kind
    3/4 c. of cooked minced beef
    3 eggs, beaten
    3 shallots, chopped (you can substitute onions)
    salt, to taste
    1 to 2 tsps. of chili paste
    2 tsps. of cooking oil


  1. Cut the baguette into three portions. Split each portion into halves.

    In a bowl, stir together the beef, eggs, shallots, chili paste and salt. Divide the mixture into three equal portions.

    Heat a teaspoonful of cooking oil in a non-stick pan.

    Spread one portion of the beef-egg mixture on the cut side of a piece of baguette.

    Invert the bread on the hot oil and cook until the beef-egg mixture is lightly browned.

    Flip and heat the other side of the bread for about a minute.

    Repeat the procedure for the two other pieces of baguette and the remaining filling.

    Fold the bread, slice into four to five portions and serve. With a salad, if you like.

Cooking time (duration): 15 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 3

Meal type: snack


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