Roti john

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Roti john
Roti John - served.jpg
A plate of roti john
CourseMain course (breakfast), sometimes as snack
Place of originSingapore[1][2]
Associated national cuisineMalaysia and Singapore
Serving temperatureRoom temperature
Main ingredientsMinced meat, onion, egg, tomato-chilli sauce and a baguette-type loaf

Roti john is an omelette sandwich developed in Singapore during the British colonial times. It later became widely popular, spreading throughout the Malay Peninsula in present-day Malaysia and in modern-day Indonesia as street food.[2][3][4][5][6]


The word Roti is derived from the Sanskrit word (rotikā), meaning "bread", and more generally for any bread-based or bread-like food, including sandwiches and pancakes.[2][3][4] The origin of john within the name of the dish has not been definitively proven, but may derive from British use of the first name John to address any male person, especially when that person's first name is unknown, difficult to remember or difficult to pronounce, thus a name that may have been used by British armed forces members to address native vendors in Malaysia or vice versa.[2][3] Oral sources have claimed that the dish and name originated with a Malay cook who lived in Singapore in the early 1970s.[7]


The sandwich is made with a baguette-type loaf with a fried filling of egg, minced meat (chicken, sardine or mutton), and onion, served with tomato-chilli sauce.

Preparation and presentation[edit]

Roti john prior to frying.

The minced meat, egg and chopped onion mixture is poured into a frying pan and then split long, soft rolls are pressed into the mixture. When the egg is set, the whole roll is then flipped over to toast the other side. The roti is lifted onto a plate, liberally spread with salad, chilli sauce and mayonnaise, before being cut into portions. A variant is to place the minced meat, onions and sauce inside the baguette, dip the baguette into beaten egg, and then fry the whole in a frying pan.

Variants may use additional or alternative ingredients such as beef, mutton and sardines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Naleeza Ebrahim; Yaw Yan Yee (2006). Singapore. Marshall Cavendish. p. 232. ISBN 978-981-232-922-6.
  2. ^ a b c d Bonny Tan. "Roti John". National Library Board, Singapore. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Jaime Koh; Stephanie Ho (22 June 2009). Culture and Customs of Singapore and Malaysia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 98–. ISBN 978-0-313-35116-7.
  4. ^ a b Wendy Hutton (15 November 2013). The Little Malaysian Cookbook. Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. pp. 45–. ISBN 978-981-4516-92-1.
  5. ^ Jean Duruz; Gaik Cheng Khoo (18 December 2014). Eating Together: Food, Space, and Identity in Malaysia and Singapore. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 93–. ISBN 978-1-4422-2741-5.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Rajagopal, Pakirisamy. "Oral History Interview On The Origins Of 'Roti John', Recorded in 2002". Archivist Pick of the Week. National Archives of Singapore. Retrieved 21 August 2019.