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Trini Roti Recipe, Food Gypsy

Trini Roti – Flavour from the West Indies

In a catering kitchen, we’re not bound by static menus, each event we do has its own unique flavor, covering the globe from one side to the other.  One day I could be making a French Rillette, the next a West Indian style curry Trini Roti from the deepest regions of the Caribbean.

Roti is street food, the West Indian answer to the sandwich, unleavened flatbread filled with a savory curry stew, also known as a ‘wrap roti’.  Curry cooked low and slow over a charcoal fire loaded with goat, lamb, chicken, or seafood will wait, hot all day long, while the roti bread is cooked at the last minute and filled to make the curry equivalent of fast food.

Trini Roti mise en place - Food Gypsy

From the Pro Kitchen to Your Kitchen

It’s not often I shoot and share a recipe from the big, shiny commercial kitchen.  For one thing, it would be something of a conflict of interest to share trade secrets and Chef Devin Marhue’s recipes en masse.  But sometimes, when cooking a dish that really turns my taste buds on, I ask if I might share it with readership and spread a little flavour joy.

This is a family recipe straight from Chef Devin’s diverse roots, in his personal recipe book it’s known as ‘Uncle Kalo’s Trini Roti’.  A rich blend of spices complemented by typical Caribbean ingredients like taro root and coconut, that filled the kitchen with a West Indian aroma, to make Uncle Kalo proud.   Nothing like being trusted with a family recipe and asked to make it from scratch with only a flavour outline and a little travel knowledge to go on.  This challenge made my day and, with permission, I’m sharing a little taste with you.

I’m no stranger to the Caribbean having explored Cuba, Jamaica, Belize, Barbados and ventured into the depths of Roatan, just a stone’s throw from Trinidad and Tobago.  Each country has a distinct way of using ingredients, some add more heat, some favour salt and curing and others lean toward curry and chutney.  The cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago blends the influences of its peoples; Indian, African, Creole, Amerindian, European, Chinese and Lebanese to a counterbalance of sweet, heat, savory and spicy.

Taro Root - Food Gypsy

Notes on Taro

In the West Indies, Taro is called “dasheen”; and is cultivated and consumed as a staple.  In  Trinidad & Tobago, the leaves and stem are most often cooked and pureed into a thick liquid called callaloo, the country’s national dish, quite similar to creamed spinach.   The root is starchy and mild, depending on the variety when it’s cooked it turns blue or remains creamy white.

Taro and potato starch act as a natural thickener in most Caribbean dishes, so there’s no need for flour or cornstarch to make a thick, creamy curry sauce.   It also fries nicely and makes a terrific crisp or chip, we used taro sticks as a garnish for our Trini Roti, in the top photo.

OK, let’s cook us a West Indian curry!

Curry Base; oli, garlic, ginger, onions & spices Food Gypsy Brown your spices to a deep, brown colour - Food Gypsy

Trini_Roti_Chicken Curry, Food-Gypsy Add liquid, starches and heat - Food Gypsy

Simmer to thicken - Food Gypsy

Tradition & Taste

In Uncle Kalo’s traditional version of the Trini Roti, the cumin used is roasted cumin, making the curry sauce a darker yellow-brown and lending a slightly more pungent taste and aroma.  You can pick up roasted cumin at your local Indian or Caribbean specialty store, or roast cumin seeds at home, in a saute pan over low heat until toasty brown, then grind with a mortar & pastel or coffee grinder when cool.

Serve, hot with an ice-cold cola and it’s just like being in the streets of Port of Spain.

 

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Trini Roti - Food Gypsy

Trini Roti – Flavour from the West Indies


  • Author: Corinna Horton
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 90 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 mins
  • Yield: four to six 1x

Description

A West Indian style curry, this Trini Roti hails from the deepest regions of the Caribbean. An heirloom recipe gifted to me by Chef Devin Marhue, known in his family as ‘Uncle Kalo’s Trini Roti’.


Ingredients

Scale

Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

Curry:

  • 1/4 cup cooking oil (corn or sunflower)
  • 2 onions, chopped fine
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin (or roasted cumin)
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 red birds eye chili peppers, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (to taste)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 12-ounce (398 ml) can of coconut milk
  • 2 large potatoes (about 2 cups), peeled & cubed
  • 2 cups taro root, peeled and cubed
  • 12 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped

Roti Wraps:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch fast-acting yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/41 cup water (see notation in instructions below)
  • 5 tablespoon vegetable oil (for use as you cook)

Instructions

  1. Marinade: In a bowl, combine yogurt, minced garlic, and spices. Season chicken thighs well with salt before adding them to yogurt curry marinade, and covering to rest in the fridge for eight hours or (preferably) overnight.
  2. Curry: Remove chicken from the fridge and with hands, wipe away most of the marinade and cut into good-sized strips/chunks and reserve wet and cold. Heat good-sized pot with about half the oil and sweat onions until tender. Add remaining oil, garlic, ginger, spices, and chilies and cook, stirring constantly to prevent burning and create a thick curry paste, allowing flavors to release.
  3. Saute the chicken in hot curry paste to seal the flesh, about 5 minutes, then cover with stock and coconut milk and stir to coat and cover. Add potato and taro root and bring to a boil (add water if needed to cover) and reduce heat to a low and simmer – an hour or more.
  4. As the sauce thickens check seasoning, add additional heat (chilies) if needed add salt to taste. As roti wraps are finishing, add fresh coriander and stir, removing from heat to serve.
  5. Roti Wraps: In a large bowl sift together flour, salt, yeast, and baking powder, and begin adding water, about a 1/4 cup at a time. Knead in as much water as required to come to a firm dough, then cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes in a warm spot. Note: depending on your flour you may need more water, dough should be springy, not tough.
  6. Knead rested dough for about 90 seconds. Divide dough into six even balls, pat or each into a round, flat disk. Move the dough onto a floured surface and roll into round sheets with a rolling pin until they are roughly 10-inches wide and a 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Lightly brush flat roti wrap with oil and place on a hot, flat skillet. Cook each side for about 2 minutes until brown bubbles begin to appear. Remove and cool.

Notes

This recipe performs best if the chicken is left to marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
To assemble: Place a scoop of curry (about a half cup) in the middle of the roti and fold, left over right then top and bottom, to form a rectangular bundle. Serve fold down, allowing curry to weigh down the seams and seep, ever so slightly, into the folds of the roti, holding it perfectly in place.

Gypsy Quickie Tip:  If you’re not up to mastering the art of roti wraps, pop by your local roti hut, they’re often willing to sell you a few wrappers for a roti night at home.  It’ll be our little secret.

  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stewing
  • Cuisine: Caribbean

Keywords: Trini Roti, Trinidadian Roti, Caribbean Roti, Roti Wrap

Cori Horton

Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer, recipe blogger and Food Business Consultant. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn, ten years in catering, and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.

This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. The roti recipe does not work. Makes a tough dough, not elastic at all. Cannot roll it out. This is a huge fail.

    1. Hello Elaine –
      Thank you for your feedback. I’m not sure what may have gone awry, we’ve used this recipe several times and never had a problem. (If your dough is a little dry just add a bit more water until it’s nice and sticky.) HOWEVER, if you’re looking for a yeast risen dough, here’s a traditional Dhalpuri recipe. A few more steps but great results. http://caribbeanpot.com/the-ultimate-dhalpuri-recipe/

      Also, if you’re looking for deeper inspiration on West Indian Cooking try Sweet Hands by Ramin Ganeshram. A solid resource for your kitchen.
      – Gypsy

  2. Thanks for the suggestions on other roti recipes – I’ll try those!
    Btw sorry if I sounded frustrated – the chicken curry recipe is awesome and sooo tasty! It’s what we’re having again tonight for dinner!

    1. Hi Elaine –
      I’m so glad you wrote back, thank you! I know how frustrated we can get when a recipe doesn’t work out. I try not to take these things too personally, but rather try to help readers find a solution that works in their kitchen. We are after all, professionals.

      Our readers mean a great deal to us so we do our best to be a good resource to our ever growing community of food fanatics. Let us know what you think.

      Thank you for reading, writing and COOKING!
      Corinna

        1. Hi Shantay –
          Taro is optional. If you can’t find it just substitute potatoes. Potatoes are cheap, this is a poor-man’s meal so don’t feel the need to fancy it up. Just keep it simple. We made a version of this last week and instead of white potatoes we used yams. Also good, but they don’t hold together as well as potatoes do.

          Thanks for reading, and commenting! Always nice to hear from readers…
          Cheers,
          Gypsy

  3. Made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! The chicken curry was spot on when compared to our fave local Trinidadian restaurant. I thought the roti was more like naan but it was very yummy eitherway. We used it to soak up all the amazing curry sauce. This recipe is a keeper for us. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you for your comments Katherine, and thanks for visiting Food Gypsy! I have updated this recipe (and will continue to do so) as I nail the roti – this may call for a trip to the Caribbean… oh, the pain. ;-)

      Cheers,
      Gypsy

  4. Good recipe.

    YOU WROTE: In the West indies Taro is called “dasheen”; and is cultivated and consumed as a staple.

    Taro is a totally different vegetable from “dasheen”. While they are both starchy and may be substituted for the other in some recipes, the taro and dasheen grow, look and taste different.

    A other tuber or root vegetable substitutions or alternatives might be cassava or yucca, malanga, white potatoes or similar root vegetables. The red birds eye chili peppers are okay, but my favorite pepper for this dish is scotch bonnet or harbanaros for the taste and heat.

  5. Hello admin, i’ve been reading your website for some time and I really like coming
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    1. Hello Char – No, indeed, it is tablespoons. I’ll be honest, the Roti Bread is not my speciality. I’ve tried both leavened and unleavened varieties, this recipe worked very well, but I’ve also had good success using self-rising flour. Takes all the guesswork out of it, just mix, rise, kneed and go. Will check my notebooks for that recipe and update the recipe above. In the meantime, here’s a link that you might find helpful: http://caribbeanpot.com/the-ultimate-dhalpuri-recipe/

      Drop a line anytime, I will do my best to offer what advice I can.
      Thank you for reading,
      Gypsy

  6. great chicken curry. one of the best i have tried. the roti I’m not good at making it. but i did find Some frozen roti all ready made. i used that and it was awesome

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  8. This is such a delicious dish and well worth the effort. I was taught by a friend from Trinidad to make roti skins by making a hole in the ball of dough, then filling it with about tablespoon of half cooked finely ground split yellow peas. This separates the skin into two layers more efficiently, makes a richer skin flavour and adds yellow pea protein which is among the more complete plant proteins.
    I am trying t develop a gluten free version and make vegan curries for the filling. Can longer handle the cruelty of using animals as food – plants taste better on the palate and the soul!

    This gmail address is hopefully, temporarily defunct. Text works [redacted for privacy – Gypsy]

    1. Yes! I’ve seen it done but have yet to come across a recipe that gives me the flavor and flexibility of a good roti bread. I’ll drop you a line (removed phone number above as I did not want others to invade your privacy).

      Thanks for reading, looking forward to connecting!
      C.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Emma! The Curry is terrific. Still working on a truly great Roti wrap recipe.
      Let me know how it works out for you. Always improving.
      C.

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  11. Delicious! Used to always get roti at the Roti Hut in Anguilla. This was the closest that I have had in comparison!

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