Roti John is a baguette omelette and onion sandwich from Singapore, traditionally served with tomato ketchup. A popular street food, it can also be filled with minced meat and cheese. Serve with a side of salad, and it’s a complete meal under 30 minutes!
Roti John, to many Singaporeans, is synonymous with the Singapore Botanical Gardens. This is because for years, the best Roti John was found at the (now closed) Taman Serasi Food Garden just outside said Gardens.
Roti John History
Roti, as you may well know, is the generic name for bread in many cultures, whether it’s flatbread or any other kind of bread. Legend has it that at sometime during the mid 20th century, a food stall owner was approached by an Englishman and asked if he could do him a hamburger.
Not quite knowing what he meant, despite the Englishman’s attempt at describing the hamburger, the stall owner beat together some eggs and onions and proceeded to make an omelette baguette sandwich but cooking the omelette within the bread. He then served this up with tomato ketchup on the side and said,
Sila makan roti, John.
Sila = please do, please help yourself
Makan = eat
John = all Caucasians were John!
Roti John was born, much in the same way we got Ayam Kapitan, the aromatic Nyonya chicken curry.
Roti John Recipe
So the basic roti john recipe was, and still is, made with eggs and onions and served with tomato ketchup.
Not much later, minced mutton or minced beef was added to the mix and these days, you have cheese, sardines (local favourites in a lot of snacks!), pepperoni, the list is as long as the imagination! And it is served with a side of cucumbers, tomatoes, chilli sauce, tomato ketchup and more recently, mayonnaise.
Handy Hints on Cooking Roti John
You can make the Roti John as mild or as spicy as you like. Add some chopped chillies (green or red) along with the onions if you like, or some chilli powder, chilli flakes or even this homemade chilli paste.
I like to cook the meat before adding it to the beaten egg mix, that way, you don’t have to overcook the omelette later.
Season the meat and the egg mix very well to get the most flavour out of your Roti John, bearing in mind that the baguette is going to be as plain as can be!
Shall we get our aprons on?
More Recipes from Singapore
Head on over to the Singapore and Malaysia page for more recipes from my childhood homes, both popular and forgotten, like the following:
Images by LinsFoodies
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- 1 medium baguette halved
- 200 g minced beef
- ½ tsp chilli flakes or 1 sliced fresh red chilli
- 4 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- cooking oil as needed
- cucumber slices
- red onion slices
- green salad
- sauces – ketchup mayo, chilli sauce
Variations on the filling
- Cheese – cheddar gruyere, mozarella
- Lightly beat the eggs up in a large bowl and set aside.
- Chop up the onion fairly finely and add to the eggs.
- Season the beef with the chilli and half tsp salt and some pepper.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a pan on medium high heat and cook the beef for about 7-10 minutes until done and all the liquid has dried up. Tip into the bowl of eggs.
- Season the eggs mix with the salt and some pepper.
Time to make the Roti John
- Slice each baguette half in half again, lengthwise, leaving it attached a little (not a clean cut).
- Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a large frying pan or flat griddle on medium high heat.
- Pour half the egg mixture in and swirl the egg to spread slightly.
- Place one baguette half (2 attached quarters) cut side down, onto the egg mix in the pan.
- With your spatula, press down on the baguette, to cook the egg as well as to “attach” the baguette to the omelette. Cook for two minutes, pressing down regularly.
- Using the edge of the spatula, tuck any excess omelette in and under the baguette slice.
- Turn the whole lot over onto its “back” and just lightly brown the top of the baguettes.
- Fold the baguette over, transfer to a cutting board and cut into slices.
- Place your large knife or spatula under the baguette and transfer the whole lot onto a plate and serve with the vegetables and sauces as above for a complete meal.
- To add cheese, place cheese of your choice in between the slices immediately after cooking.