I’m pretty surprised that it took us so long to try Trinidadian food, but since we are such fans of Caribbean food we knew we were in for a treat. One of our favorite Caribbean foods – after lechon of course – is the humble roti. Rotis are Indian-derived flatbreads filled with any number of toppings, and they are one of the staple of Caribbean street food. Taste of Trinidad (2045 Howard St, Chicago, IL) got high marks for it’s Trini-style rotis and since it was in our hood (before we moved at least) we knew we needed to give it a try.
Taste of Trinidad is a humble operation, with no air conditioning, and it is often closed during its stated hours, so be sure to call ahead. But don’t worry, this extra effort will be worth your while. We chatted a bit with who we presume is the owner and he was happy to offer his recommendations and tell us a little about Trini food. Beyond rotis, they also have curry goat, jerk chicken and the ever-popular macaroni pie. On the weekend they even have doubles, an emblematic dish made of fried flatbread filled with chickpeas!
We started out with an order of pholourie, a dish of fried chickpea dough fritters served with mango chutney. These reminded us of the Italian panelle and were a very addictive snack! For our lunch entrees we ordered a veggie roti and a chicken curry roti, which came out in short order. We appreciated that these rotis were not greasy at all, and both of the curries were flavorful and gently spicy. It was also nice to have a vegetarian option. To up the ante you can slather on some house made habanero/Scotch bonnet hot sauce, which got a hearty thumbs up from M. Neither of us were able to finish our rotis – but they were certainly delicious. Taste of Trinidad put out a high quality roti that definitely merits a future visit. We are especially looking forward to visiting on a weekend to get our doubles fix!
We love Caribbean/West Indian food, but our local options in Chicago are somewhat limited to Jamaican food and a Trinidadian spot or two. However, our trip to London provided us with the rare opportunity to sample Guyanese cuisine and we jumped at the chance. The ultimate Guyanese dish is the roti, an unleavened bread popular in Indian cuisine, which was brought to the West Indies by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent. The beauty of the roti is in its role as a wrap, that can be filled with nearly anything! We learned about a couple of roti restaurants in the Brixton area which seemed to be located in food trucks or markets, and were near-impossible to track down. However, we heard great things about Umana Yana (294 Croxted Road, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9DA).
Umana Yana is located south of the Caribbean-flavored area of Brixton, definitely off the tourist track. The name “Umana Yana” comes from a famous monument in Guyana whose name means “meeting house of the people” in the indigenous Wai-Wai language. The shop was tiny, but fully stocked with rotis and curries of every stripe, including chicken and eggplant, pumpkin, oxtail and goat (among many others). The curry was kept in small containers separately in the refrigerated counter, so you mix and match, or take your options to-go, which seemed to be a popular option. There was only one table inside, so we took advantage of the nice weather and waited for our food at a table outside. Aside from the huge variety of curries there were other Guyanese appetizers, including poulourie (fried green pea dough fritters) and bara (lentil fritters). We decided to split a Goat curry on dohl puri, at the behest of the chef/owner Deborah. We really enjoyed the dohl puri, a roti filled with chickpeas, which was unusual and different from a garden variety roti (we ordered one of those on the side too – see above). The rotis were made fresh to order, and were like thin, rich naan: soft and a little flaky, but not too greasy. Unfortunately the curry was not too photogenic, but it was certainly delicious. To finish, we recommend washing your meal down with a delicious, floral sorrel drink. It also bears mentioning that the owner of Umana Yana, Deborah is a sweet as can be, and made us feel incredibly welcome. If you are in search of Guyanese food in London, Umana Yana is the real deal.
136 Phra Athit Rd.
When you are in a different country sometimes you have to do things a little differently…. M’s breakfast in the US usually consists of cereal, and L’s consists of a bagel. However while in Thailand we opted for something a bit different (but still carbo-loaded) – Rotis – a typical indian flatbread. Rotis, though native to India, are very popular as a street food in Thailand and there are ton of great places to sample them in Bangkok.
In the shadow of a whitewashed fort from the 17th century sits a tiny store manned by an industrious woman with a supernatural ability to turn out hundreds of rotis. The menu at the place, unsurprisingly was mainly rotis, which we dug, and all fr less than 100B (about 3 dollars).
Feeling unconventional, even at 9 AM, we opted for a sweet and savory mix: one chicken Curry roti and two others topped with chocolate sauce and condensed milk. The rotis were literally piping hot of the griddle and were presented to us in no time. The curry was a good mix of sweet and spicy, and the chocolate roti was perfect in its simplicity. Nothing like a little curry and chocolate for breakfast!
Butter Nan, Tandoori Roti, Onion Kulcha – Photo by Silly Jilly
Indian cuisine, owing to the size and diversity of the country is completely eclectic and varied. We must confess that when we thought of Indian flatbreads the ubiquitous naan came to mind, but we are now diving deeper into the dizzying array of delicious Indian breads, and you can too! We found a brief but informative guide to Indian flatbreads, which lists the leaving agent and ingredients of each. For example, naan is leavened with bread, while kulcha is leavened with yogurt and baking soda. If you want to keep exploring, check out the list of Indian flatbreads on Wikipedia.