Murtabak was invented in India during the Middle Ages and brought to Southeast Asia by Tamil Muslim traders. It is a common Indian Muslim dish found in Malaysia and Singapore, popular during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The word ‘mutabar’ is the dish’s original name and referred to in other languages and dialects as ‘Murtabak’. ‘Mutabar’ is an amalgam of two words, ‘muta’ (the Keralite word for egg) and ‘bar,’ an abbreviated form of ‘bratha roti’ (bread).
The Singapore version of murtabak is a combination of Arab and Indian flavours, spices, and cooking techniques. Chinese-style egg and green onions are some ingredients are used to reflect local taste.
Murtabak is a crispy, slightly chewy, multi-layered pancake with fillings made from meat. The preparation of a murtabak involves seasoned minced meat, eggs, onions and batter for the roti (bread). The dough for the roti is first prepared into a smooth, sticky consistency and then divided into tiny balls. The dough balls are then flattened on the griddle and greased with ghee to form the roti.
The meat (either chicken, lamb or beef) is minced and then seasoned with spices before stir-frying with turmeric, masala salt, onions and curry powder. The cooked minced meat is whisked with eggs before it is spooned into the centre of the roti. The roti is then folded to wrap the filling.
Murtabak is usually chopped into squares and the dish is best served hot. It can be eaten with curry, dhall (lentil curry) or plain with some sweet pickled onions.
In Brunei, murtabak is not stuffed but consists of a bread-like dough that is kneaded and served piping hot with a sweet curry sauce. Murtabak Kentang can be found in Malaysia and Sumatra, where the roti is stuffed with a mix of diced potatoes, beaten eggs, chopped green onions and spices instead of beaten egg and ground beef. Indonesian versions of murtabak are sweet.
White flour, salt, ghee, water, oil, minced meat (chicken or beef), red onion, clove garlic, ginger, turmeric powder, garam masala, coriander leaves, red chili, eggs, pepper
Famous dining spots
Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant, 697 North Bridge Road;
Victory Restaurant, 701 North Bridge Road