Trinidadian Roti – An Overview (video)

Roti. Four little letters that have the power to put any Trini into a smile-infused stupor :) Along with pelau I consider it one of Trinidad’s national dishes. East Indian in origin Trinidad roti has now become its own entity with several variants offered to the sidewalk or fast food consumer.

So, what exactly is roti?

Wikipedia to the rescue! Never mind that they spell tawa with a ‘v’??? Then again we spell Divali with a v and I see it everywhere else with a ‘w’ …. lol

Roti… features prominently in the diet of many West Indian countries, especially Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname. West Indian roti are primarily made from wheat flour, salt, and water. They are cooked on a tava. Certain rotis are also made with butter. There are several types of roti made in the West Indies:

* Sada Roti: Similar to naan. It is cooked on a tava, therefore the bottom is not crisp like that of a naan. Because it is the easiest one to make, it is the most commonly consumed roti in Trinidad. It is a popular breakfast option in Trinidad, in combination with tomato choka, baigan choka (aubergine/eggplant/melongene), and other vegetable dishes.

* Paratha Roti: A roti made with butter, usually ghee. It is cooked on a tava. Oil is rubbed on both sides, then it is fried. This gives the roti a crisp outside. When it almost finished cooking, the cook begins to beat the roti while it is on the tava, causing it to crumble. It is also called ‘Buss-Up-Shut’ because it resembles a ‘burst up shirt’.

* Dosti Roti: A roti where two layers are rolled out together and cooked on the tava. It is also rubbed with oil while cooking. It is called dosti roti because the word dosti means friendship in Hindi. This type of roti is not made in Guyana.

* Dhalpuri: A roti with a stuffing of ground yellow split peas, cumin (geera), garlic, and pepper. The split peas are boiled until they are al dente and then ground in a mill. The cumin is toasted until black and also ground. The stuffing is pushed into the roti dough, and sealed. When rolled flat, the filling is distributed within the roti. It is cooked on the tava and rubbed with oil for ease of cooking. This is the most popular roti. Another version of this is aloopuri, which is made from potatoes.

Oh dear, just cutting and pasting these has my stomach grumbling! But let me soldier on :P Here in Trinidad roti is the ultimate hearty fastfood. In local parlance it doesn’t just refer to the breads listed above though. In essence when you say you’re going to ‘buy roti’ you mean you are going to buy a dish of curried vegetables/meats wrapped up burrito style in one of the above breads (except for buss-up-shot which is served on the side). Roti breads by themselves are referred to as ‘roti skins’. Everyone has their favorite roti shops and is on the lookout for the next ‘rising star’ of roti establishments. I remember when everything ’round town’ (the capital) was ‘Hot Shoppe’, then it was ‘Patraj’ that was the rage. Me I’m most indiscriminate, I love them all :) Growing up I used to see people making roti skins at sidewalk stands, especially in St. James. This does not seem as prevalent these days though. I loved watching it being made!

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Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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  • Bernard

    I do sell trini roti skin whole sale call me and I will ship it to you 713-721-2767

  • Bernard

    I do sell trini roti skin whole sale call me and I will ship it to you 713-721-2767

  • Carol Montoute

    Someone had a question about, “Where can I get Black Pudding in Toronto”. If they would care to e-mail me (above) I would be happy to help them out.

  • Carol Montoute

    Someone had a question about, “Where can I get Black Pudding in Toronto”. If they would care to e-mail me (above) I would be happy to help them out.

  • Sharon

    I can make my own curry, but I don’t know how to make the skin. I am craving roti something fierce. I have some goat just waiting to be cooked up. can anyone help me out? with or with out the crushed peas, I’m not too picky. I’m just loth to use tortilla skins. thank you!!!

  • Sharon

    I can make my own curry, but I don’t know how to make the skin. I am craving roti something fierce. I have some goat just waiting to be cooked up. can anyone help me out? with or with out the crushed peas, I’m not too picky. I’m just loth to use tortilla skins. thank you!!!

  • Sophia

    Hello,
    I am a trini and live Germany. I need some Dhalpuri roti skins, do you know of anyone who can ship this to me. I am craving some roti. Also, is there a way I can purchase the big round Iron thing the roti is made on, so I can try to make my roti.

    Anxiously waiting a reply.
    Thanks!

  • Sophia

    Hello,
    I am a trini and live Germany. I need some Dhalpuri roti skins, do you know of anyone who can ship this to me. I am craving some roti. Also, is there a way I can purchase the big round Iron thing the roti is made on, so I can try to make my roti.

    Anxiously waiting a reply.
    Thanks!

    • cherri

      Hi, I saw tawas on ebay shopping site .I'm going to get one too.There is a seller that has a cheap one but it is made out of aluminium metal and the seller is; seller online name ; sdentertainment

      seller online store name ; SD Entertainment LLC

      the seller is away until march 15, 2010 so shipping can be delayed.

    • cherri

      Hi, I saw tawas on ebay shopping site .I'm going to get one too.There is a seller that has a cheap one but it is made out of aluminium metal and the seller is; seller online name ; sdentertainment

      seller online store name ; SD Entertainment LLC

      the seller is away until march 15, 2010 so shipping can be delayed.

    • cherri

      now it says that the seller is away untill april 25 i don't know what's going on but there are other sellers.

  • Sophia

    Hello,
    I am a trini and live Germany. I need some Dhalpuri roti skins, do you know of anyone who can ship this to me. I am craving some roti. Also, is there a way I can purchase the big round Iron thing the roti is made on, so I can try to make my roti.

    Anxiously waiting a reply.
    Thanks!

    • cherri

      Hi, I saw tawas on ebay shopping site .I'm going to get one too.There is a seller that has a cheap one but it is made out of aluminium metal and the seller is; seller online name ; sdentertainment

      seller online store name ; SD Entertainment LLC

      the seller is away until march 15, 2010 so shipping can be delayed.

    • cherri

      now it says that the seller is away untill april 25 i don't know what's going on but there are other sellers.

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  • OhSweetPea

    RE: The pronunciation of "V's" and "W's" in that part of the Eastern hemisphere is reversed, hence the spelling of tava & Divali.

  • OhSweetPea

    RE: The pronunciation of "V's" and "W's" in that part of the Eastern hemisphere is reversed, hence the spelling of tava & Divali.

  • OhSweetPea

    RE: The pronunciation of "V's" and "W's" in that part of the Eastern hemisphere is reversed, hence the spelling of tava & Divali.

  • jackychang

    Does anyone remember butch roti shop in couva?.

  • jackychang

    Does anyone remember butch roti shop in couva?.

  • Sue

    You have made me mega hungry. I am from Barbados but love Trini roti especially dhalpourie. I live in the West Midlands UK and haven't seen sight or smell of a roti. The Chapatis just are not the same. Maybe i'ts a good thing as I'm not sure my blood sugar would thank me for giving it multiple doses of carb. Later this year when I hit Barbados, sorry carbs -first stop even before home – some good roti!

  • Sue

    You have made me mega hungry. I am from Barbados but love Trini roti especially dhalpourie. I live in the West Midlands UK and haven't seen sight or smell of a roti. The Chapatis just are not the same. Maybe i'ts a good thing as I'm not sure my blood sugar would thank me for giving it multiple doses of carb. Later this year when I hit Barbados, sorry carbs -first stop even before home – some good roti!

  • Robert

    Does anyone know where to party to SOCA in Oakland, CA?

  • Robert

    Does anyone know where to party to SOCA in Oakland, CA?

  • Winnie-the-Trini

    Well, at least you people can buy roti – most of you. The only way I will get roti is if I make it as I live in New Zealand. Been trying to get the Indian people here to make it but they don't have a clue about making it the Trini way. There is a Roti Hut in Gold Coast, Australia and I have one every day practically when I go over on holiday. Can't make it to Trini stds but it is good enough. I was there Dec. gone and had one around the savannah and they put curry mango in it – THAT IS ABSIOLUTE HEAVEN – The yummiest roti I have ever had. Whoever is going to Trinidad – try one.

  • Winnie-the-Trini

    Well, at least you people can buy roti – most of you. The only way I will get roti is if I make it as I live in New Zealand. Been trying to get the Indian people here to make it but they don't have a clue about making it the Trini way. There is a Roti Hut in Gold Coast, Australia and I have one every day practically when I go over on holiday. Can't make it to Trini stds but it is good enough. I was there Dec. gone and had one around the savannah and they put curry mango in it – THAT IS ABSIOLUTE HEAVEN – The yummiest roti I have ever had. Whoever is going to Trinidad – try one.

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  • http://www.strawbellcats.co.uk donna

    Do you know where I can buy Roti skins in the uk and get them shipped to me?

  • http://www.strawbellcats.co.uk donna

    Do you know where I can buy Roti skins in the uk and get them shipped to me?

  • Roni

    Does anyone know where I can get true trinidad roti made with split pea shipped to me?

  • Me

    Try www.easycaribbeanshop.com. I haven't tried them but read about it in Time Out

  • Drew52877

    The big round thing is called a tawah. If you do not have one you can use a heavy iron frying pan or skillet or a griddle.

  • Angelmds74

    hey Winnie theres a roti hut on the gold coast? OMG! didnt know where abouts is it? ive been living on the gold coast 6yrs and like u from New Zealand But born in T+T,my mum is still in New Zealand and she makes the best roti but of course only have tht when i go back to NZ.