There are multiple stories about how this dish was invented. According to a Straits Time article printed in September 1988, in the 1960s, an Englishman asked a Malay Hawker in Sembawang for a hamburger. The hawker spread minced mutton and onions in between slices of French loaf and fried this concoction in egg. The hawker then said to his customer “Silakan makan roti, John” in Malay, which translates to “Please eat this bread, John”.
A March 1973 Berita Harian report credits a Cik Zawiah Anuar at Geylang Serai Food Centre who adapted this roti john to local tastes, which was comprised of mutton, egg, onion, peas and tomato on French Bread.
In 1976, a hawker named Shukor setup a stall near Singapore Botanic Gardens. His dish was made with eggs beaten with onions, minced mutton and sambal, with the mixture spread over sliced halves of a bread loaf that is later pan-friend on a hot girdle.