The hubby and I spent the weekend relaxing on Pulau Langkawi, the largest island of a group of 99 islands off the northwestern coast of Malaysia. Langkawi is in the Kedah province, and it shares a border Thailand. Even as we were landing, we could tell from the plane that the waters were crystal blue and the sand was a beautiful white.
We rode a tiny cable car like the one on the top left
Since our hotel was right next to Langkawi’s famous cable car on Mount Gunung Machingchang (say that 3 times fast and try not to giggle), we decided to check it out on Saturday afternoon. The view from on top of the cable car was breathtaking. All around us, we could see the Andaman Sea dotted with uninhabited islands.
After sunset, we did how we normally do and checked out the night market in the town of Kuah, the largest town on the island. Having lived here for a few months now, I feel like I’ve come to expect a few certainties about night markets — a spattering of plastic flip-flops, knockoff purses, tropical fruits, and the same general types of food (satay, apom balik, and popiah, to name a few).
I was surprised when we encountered all of the usual suspects, and more. Since we were in a different part of Malaysia, the food varied slightly, too, and we found ourselves marveling over the roti jala, pictured above.
Literally called “net bread,” the roti jala is made by making a thin coconut and flour based batter, then pouring the batter into a squeeze bottle. Using the squeeze bottle, our little chef lady went to town zigzagging batter over a hot, flat roti griddle, which looked like great fun. Then, she carefully folded the pancake over into fourths, and when she turned to the hubby and me with a neat little roti jala triangle, we were already rubbing our palms together and looking fiendishly at our next victim. Just as she neared the front of her stall, though, she whipped out yet another squeeze bottle filled with a greenish liquid, and immediately the hubby and I took a step back.
Folding the roti jala into a thin, crispy crepelike treat
“What is that?” I wondered aloud. We pointed to the viscous liquid that our new favorite batter Magna-Doodler was liberally applying to the surface of our beautiful roti jala. She chatted amiably back at us, clearly happy to explain to us exactly what she was doing. The only problem was, she was chatting in Malaysian, of which the hubby and I know a combined seven words, most of which relate to traffic signage. Unfortunately, knowing which lane to be in at toll crossings didn’t bring us any closer to deciphering what gooey substance was being slathered onto our roti jala, so we did the prudent thing and took a healthy bite.
We figured it out immediately. Our mysterious sauce was made out of durian, that rotting garbage scented fruit with the consistency of brie. I’ve tried to love durian, but I really can’t get past the smell. The hubby, on the other hand, loves the stuff, and so I let him have my share. We did, after all, vow to share food.