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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Jamaican/West Indian Food Pt II - Roti: A Potato and Chickpea-Stuffed Delight

One of the tastiest items of West Indian cuisine is the Roti. Based on a food item from India, this fiery West Indian variation is essentially an enormously satisfying savoury, spicy vegetable- and/or meat-stuffed mixture wrapped in a flatbread known as Roti. (The East Indian version was just the flatbread alone.) The "default" roti has a stuffing of chickpea and potatoes in a thick curry gravy. Some West Indian restaurants/roti shops will only serve the vegetable version in this way. Others will let you add things like grilled eggplant or zuchinni, mushrooms, diced tomatoes and onions, and so on.

Now, it's debatable, but you can use a variety wrappers for roti, including tortilla shells. For the best taste and texture, you need a giant flatbread known as dalpuri. I'll be honest and say that I have yet to figure out what dalpuri is made of. But my best guess is a mixture of flour and possibly ground lentils, and covered in corn meal. No one at any of the West Indian restaurants I've been to would ever answer my question. You can sometimes find a West Indian grocery that sells dalpuri flatbread, but they're expensive, fragile, and go bad quickly. If you are planning to try out the potato and chickpea recipe below, use the biggest tortilla shells you can find. It's not the exact same texture, as dalpuri is a bit spongier. In fact, if you have ever been to an Ethiopian restaurant, it is very similar to their "injera" flatbread, but not as tangy.

By the way, it's customary to serve stuffed roti with a dollop of scorchingly hot West Indian sauces typically made with the fiery scotch bonnet peppers (habaneros), which have a Scoville Heat Index of 200-300,000 units. I.e., have some white bread and some yogurt or sour cream on hand to dull the burning taste of scotch bonnets.

(c) Copyright 2005-present, Raj Kumar Dash, http://chilimonster.blogspot.com

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