Caribbean roti

For my first complete month of blogging, I thought I would roundup with an investigation into one of the foodstuffs I have talked about in my November posts but not in detail (because I have little idea of what it is), and I’ve chosen the humble roti. The first thing I think of when I hear the word ‘roti’ is Indian food. It was due to my curiosity about what Caribbean roti was like that made me queue for 20 minutes to buy my lamb curry roti wrap from the roti hut at South Park. Now I have a better idea of what a Caribbean roti is. So…

What is a roti?

An unleavened bread originating from India. There are many subcategories of roti.

What does the word ‘roti’ mean?

It means ‘bread’ in Hindi (रॊटि) and Urdu (روٹی), and comes from the Sanskrit roṭikā (रोटिका), meaning ‘a kind of bread’.

How old is roti?

The Sanskrit word is first attested in a 16th century medical text.

What’s the difference between an East Indian roti and a West Indian roti?

A West Indian roti is served as a wrap with filling, whereas the East Indian roti is served as a side. A West Indian wrap is made with a dhal puri roti.

Where in the West Indies is roti eaten?

In most places, but most commonly in Trinidad, where the wrap roti was invented.

How do I make a Caribbean roti wrap?

Here’s a recipe that will make you salivate, but if you just want to make the roti, try Jehan’s recipe. For those who don’t have time to make the roti, you can buy a Rotimatic, “the world’s first robot roti maker”!

What has roti inspired?

Among other things, art, a documentary that searches for the roots of the Trinidadian roti, and Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji, a children’s book.

In which other cuisines has roti become a feature?

South-East Asian. In Malaysia they’re called roti canai, and in Singapore roti prata.


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