Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Roti and me

Oh gorm ah could eat ah roti now!
Now if I was living in Trinidad my roti craving wouldn't last long, because in Trinidad, you're always at least 15 minutes away from a good roti.
Not so in London, especially in the middle of winter!
Last night, my friend Kelvin aka EJ picked me up for a roti jaunt. We headed to South London and our favourite roti shop, Roti Joupa.

I've been going there for about three years now, but last night was the first time I carefully looked at how Vash and his team make roti. Actually, I was kinda lucky because they were doing a big order for a customer.
At one point when Dave was kneading the dough for dhalpourie roti, EJ joked, 'yuh have to have special hands to make that roti yuh know!'
He was so right because like pastry or bread, the way you knead the roti dough will determine if you end up with something that's strong enough to hold a heavy serving of vegetable or meat filling but soft enough to melt in your mouth.
By the same token, it's not difficult to end up with a cardboardy kinda mess that's destined for the bin - I know because it happened to me.
Oddly enough, I wasn't really feeling for roti last night so I had two doubles, a glass of sorrel and a slice of coconut sweetbread instead. I did however, come away with a renewed appreciation of the art of roti making. In fact, I told Vash that I'd like to spend a few hours in their kitchen and of course, he suggested that I come in on a Saturday - their busiest day!
Until then, I have to rely on a recipe from one of Trinidad's best loved cookbooks, the Naparima High School Cookbook. I'll share it with you and if anyone knows about a better recipe, send it along!

Dhalpurie Roti
1lb flour
3 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp saffron
1/2 lb split peas
3 cloves garlic
2-3 tsp ground geera

Boil the split peas with saffron, salt and garlic until tender but not too soft. Drain and grind to a breadcumb like consistency in a food processor. Add geera and salt to taste and leave to cool.
Knead flour with baking powder to a soft dough. Rub the dough with oil and leave to rest for 30 mins. Cut the dough into 6 to 8 pieces and shape into round balls. Open each ball and in the centre, put about 3-4 tsbp of of the pea mixture, close and seal the ball.
Heat a baking stone, flat griddle pan or large pancake pan. Roll a ball of dough very thinly, spread a thin layer of oil or ghee over the baking stone and put on the rolled out dough.
Cook on one side for one or two minutes, turn the dough over and spread with oil or melted ghee. After two minutes, turn over and spread oil or ghee over the dough. Do not let the roti get too brown. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

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  • At 21:13, Blogger Attillah said…

    Oh! how I miss Brother Vash...
    also check this out...

  • At 14:47, Anonymous Victor said…

    I'm from Trinidad, living in Tennessee and I know how difficult it is to get a good roti. Did find a great place recetnly with that melt-in-your-mouth roti. I'm holding out for my Mom's sweetbread made with a grating of tankabean seed!

  • At 16:03, Anonymous jake said…

    Franka - according to Ossie, theres a good roti place near where we work here in Shepherds Bush.... an outing beckons.....?

  • At 21:17, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    thank you for putting in a recipe for roti. I have been looking all over the web and I could not find one. I will look for a cookbook.


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