You're going to get a little bit of everything today, a recipe, pictures, tie dye, Trinidad, limelets. As I mentioned, last week was Diana's birthday. In our house the birthday person gets to decided on the evening's menu. Both Diana and Calypso have picked roti as part of their birthday dinner every year. A couple of years ago I posted a recipe for my favorite type of roti (an East Indian flat bread) here. If you want the recipe go check that out. Today I am pretty much only going to describe the process. First a gratuitous Lil' Limelette picture. Aaawwww, so cute. That's proof that Diana has loved roti from the first taste. A friend in Trinidad had come over to teach me how to make it and Diana thieved a piece. Please also take note of the tie dye shorts she is wearing. To be honest I am shocked she is wearing clothes at all in this picture. She rarely kept them on at that age. This is another constant in her life. For her birthday she asked me to pick her up early from school so she could have a couple hours to romp around the house naked before her brother got home. Roti, tie dye, and nudity...the constants in our lives.
The only problem was that this year she wanted both roti and quesadillas. I told her if I was doing the meal alone I couldn't be frying up both things at the same time because I only have 2 hands (if you make roti with out help that's really all you can do at the time aside from occasionally giving a pot a stir) and that would 4 hands. She said she actually was willing to help me make the roti because she wanted to learn how to do it so when she is away at college and gets hungry for it she can make some. At that moment the angels sang, the clouds parted, the sun streamed down and I began to feel woozy from the shock of anyone volunteering to help in the kitchen. Once I recovered I expressed delight at the brilliance of such a notion. I instructed Diana in assembling the recipe and how to knead the dough. Once it's been properly kneaded it has to relax. It doesn't have yeast in it but it needs to sit around and contemplate it's state. Once the dough has navel gazed you have to form the loyah (balls) in a particular fashion that requires a little practice. Diana was at first confounded but she seemed to get the hang of it. After the loya are formed they have to rest and contemplate their place in the universe now that they've been broken off the larger mass of dough. Once the dough has
overcome its personal existential crisis relaxed again you can begin rolling and frying. Diana started with the rolling. She did a terrific job.
Carefully carry a roti to the heated tawah (or platin if you are creole, or stone if you are anyone else) and flop it on. We are making sada roti which doesn't actually get fried with oil. It just cooks on a dry tawah but you'll live if we call it frying since the other types of roti get fried. Anyway, let it cook until the surface bubbles up. Flip that baby over with a dabla. If you don't have a dabla, use whatever you have. I love my dabla.
After you flip the roti you're going to have to press all around the edges of it with your dabla so the edges cook. A proper roti will swell when it cooks so you have to get those edges to the tawah.
When it's done flop it on a plate of other rotis and cover them up with a towel to keep them warm. Check out the groovy tie dye towel!
Oh yeah, I forgot...you gotta have something to eat with the roti. Curried venison is very nice with roti. Even though Trinis think I am totally weird for combining creole food and Indian food I also like stewed chicken with my roti too. Diana stayed Indian and decided she wanted curried channa and aloo (that's spuds and chick peas [or little butts, as Diana calls them] to the rest of you). Ok, quick recipe...6 spuds, a can of chick peas (drained), an onion, 2 cloves of garlic, curry, and some oil. Heat the oil, saute the diced onions and garlic, toss in a bunch of curry and heat it all around before you toss in the chopped spuds and chick peas. Turn to low and cover until spuds are tender. Stir occasionally and make sure it's not cooking dry. You may need to add a little water now and then. I also made sure to use my Trini curry as opposed to Kenyan curry. When I pointed out the difference to Diana she remarked at how global our kitchen and the food we eat was...Kenyan curry, Trini food, Pennsylvania German food, Mexican quesadillas, etc, etc. I smiled that another lesson was not lost on her. That's all been intentional, kiddo.
Ok, so now it's all done and ready to eat. Aside from just being yummy, roti is practical. It's not just food, it's a utensil.
Mmmmm, good stuff. Diana did very well. Because she was helping I had time to take the pictures of the process so you can either thank her for that. I still haven't had time to finish decorating so you'll excuse all that stuff on the table behind me. I'm too busy eating because as they say in Trinidad, "Bettah yuh belly burst than good food waste."