As a Thai native, I have a deep appreciation for the wide variety of cultural delicacies that my country has to offer. From savory curries and spicy stir-fries to sweet desserts and refreshing drinks, there's no shortage of delicious food and drink to indulge in while exploring Thailand. One of my personal favorite desserts is Roti Sai Mai, a flaky pastry filled with cotton candy-like strings of sugar.
Roti Sai Mai is a traditional Thai dessert that is thought to have originated in the central part of the country. It is typically sold by street vendors and is popular among both locals and tourists alike. The dessert consists of a thin layer of crispy yet chewy pastry that is wrapped around a soft bundle of hand-spun sugary threads, known as "Sai Mai" in Thai. The strands of Sai Mai are made by stretching hot sugar syrup until it turns into thin, delicate threads, which are then wrapped into a sticky ball.
The combination of sweet, fluffy Sai Mai and crispy, buttery pastry makes for a tantalizing dessert that is both filling and easy on the palate. What I love about Roti Sai Mai is that it's not overly sweet like many other Thai desserts, and the pastry itself provides a nice, neutral balance to the sugary filling. Plus, the process of consuming the dessert is a fun experience in and of itself – you get to unwind the Sai Mai threads from the pastry until they're dangling precariously from your chopsticks or fingers. If you're planning a trip to Thailand, be sure to give Roti Sai Mai a try – I promise you won't regret it!
What is Roti Sai Mai?
If you are living in Thailand or planning to visit anytime soon, you might have come across the peculiar yet charming name, "Roti Sai Mai". Simply put, it is a Thai dessert that is popularly called "Cotton Candy Wrap" in English.
Roti Sai Mai is made by wrapping candy floss around flattened dough called Roti. The cotton candy, called Sai Mai in Thai, is made of sugar syrup that is heated and stretched to form thin strands like cotton. It is then wrapped around the sweet Roti dough that has a texture somewhere between pancakes and pastries. The combination of the sweet and sugary cotton candy with the chewy Roti dough creates a mesmerizing delicacy that has been captivating the hearts of many Thais for years.
History of Roti Sai Mai
Although the specific origins of Roti Sai Mai are not clear, it is believed that it was created during the reign of King Rama V when cotton candy was first introduced to Thailand. It quickly became a popular treat in fairs and festivals, but it wasn't until later on that someone decided to combine it with Roti. The sweet and fluffy cotton candy was a perfect match for the rich and buttery Roti dough.
Since then, Roti Sai Mai has become a favorite indulgence of the Thai people, and it has been a staple in food markets, street stalls, and even high-end restaurants all over the country.
Making Roti Sai Mai from scratch
Making Roti Sai Mai from scratch may seem daunting at first, but it is actually a fun and rewarding activity that you can do with your friends or family. Here is a simple recipe:
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/4 cup of water
- Cotton Candy
- Mix flour, salt, and sugar together in a mixing bowl.
- Add an egg and whisk it with the dry ingredients.
- Pour milk in the mixture and stir until it becomes a smooth batter.
- Add water into the bowl and stir until it is fully incorporated.
- Cover the mixing bowl and let the batter rest for about 30 minutes.
- Heat up a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
- Pour the batter onto the pan and spread it evenly.
- Cook the Roti until it is golden brown on both sides.
- Peel out enough strands of cotton candy and wrap them around the Roti.
- Roll the Roti to cover the cotton candy completely.
Where to find Roti Sai Mai in Thailand
Roti Sai Mai has become such an iconic dessert in Thailand that you can find it almost anywhere. From the bustling street markets to the luxury malls, you will see various vendors selling this sweet creation. However, there are some markets and shops that are known to have the best Roti Sai Mai.
One of the most famous and well-regarded markets to find Roti Sai Mai is the Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. It is one of the largest outdoor markets in the world, and it has a dedicated section where vendors sell a wide assortment of street food, including Roti Sai Mai.
Another place that you can find Roti Sai Mai is the Don Wai Market in Nakhon Pathom Province. This market is
Situated just outside of Bangkok, and it is known for its food, including Roti Sai Mai. The vendors here make their cotton candy from scratch, using traditional recipes that date back centuries.
How to eat Roti Sai Mai
Although Roti Sai Mai is technically a dessert, it is usually eaten as a snack, and it is perfect for sharing with friends or loved ones. You can either tear it apart or cut it into slices, and then enjoy the fluffy texture of the cotton candy and the savory taste of the buttery Roti dough.
Popular variations of Roti Sai Mai
While the traditional version of Roti Sai Mai is popular and delicious, some vendors and restaurants have come up with their own takes on the classic dish. Here are some popular variations:
Matcha Roti Sai Mai
This version uses matcha powder in the Roti dough, giving it a green color and adding a subtle green tea flavor to the mix.
Durian Roti Sai Mai
Durian is a fruit that is known for its strong aroma and unique flavor. This version of Roti Sai Mai uses durian as a filling, giving it a creamy and decadent taste.
Chocolate Roti Sai Mai
For those who love chocolate, this variation of Roti Sai Mai uses chocolate sauce and powder in the dough, giving it a rich and sweet taste that is perfect for those with a sweet tooth.