Roti Around the World

In this post, our marketing intern Keilin Huang dishes on rotis around the world:

In one of our new LEE & LOW books released this October, Drummer Boy of John John, a young Trinidadian boy named Winston dreams of being in the best band in the Carnival parade, so he can get some of the Roti King’s famous rotis. As Winston puts it, “Carnival jus’ ain’t right without a roti.”

Winston craves these “folded pancakes filled with chicken and secret herbs and spices,” but what exactly is a roti? The word roti means “bread” in Hindi, Urdu, most other North Indian languages, and Malay, and is essentially a round, flat, bread that is cooked on a griddle:

Roti image

Roti is unleavened, meaning that no rising agents are used, so most recipes involve just mixing water and flour together. Oftentimes, rotis are stuffed with vegetables, meats, curries, or spread with butter.

Roti is a staple in three main regions: India, the West Indies (Trinidad, Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname), and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore). In India, roti is often accompanied with cooked vegetables or curries, but it can also be spread with “ghee,” a clarified butter.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji
from Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji

Similarly, in the West Indies, rotis are paired with different combinations of vegetables, herbs, and meats. In Drummer Boy of John John, the Roti King is probably making another popular roti called the “wrap roti.” The wrap roti is essentially the same as a normal roti, except it’s folded up with a curry stew inside of it.

Roti King
from Drummer Boy of John John

Southeast Asian countries often pair rotis with sauces and stews, using the bread as a dipping tool. And people with a sweet tooth will especially appreciate these rotis with ice cream or “kaya” (a rich, creamy, coconut jam):

Roti Kaya

For those of you who are aspiring chefs (or just need something easy and delicious to eat!), here’s a roti recipe for Indian roti from our book Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji. If you want to try Caribbean roti like what Winston eats in Trinidad, try this recipe. And of course, if you have your own family roti recipe, we’d love to hear it!

10 thoughts on “Roti Around the World”

  1. Hey there!

    Quite a nice post this was. Except, if I may suggest, in India at least, roti’s aren’t generally stuffed at all. It’s parathas, another kind of bread that’s often stuffed.

    But no matter. A nice post indeed.


  2. Hi Kabir,
    Thanks for the correction! I’ve had stuffed parathas before, and they are DELICIOUS.

    1. No problem! I absolutely, totally love parathas myself! And somehow no one can seem to make them as well as my mother does. 🙂

      Came across your post while I was looking for a drop of inspiration for my own post. Something which basically tells you how to make chicken biryani at home. It’s done, finally.

      P.S.: Have you had chicken biryani before?


  3. Hi Kabir,
    Haven’t had chicken biryani before, but will check out your recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  4. When I wrote Drummer boy of John John I was dreaming of the Caribbean and the music and the taste of a delicious roti. This post has brought back those beautiful sundrenched aromas and the Roti King’s famous chicken roti.. with secret herbs and spices!
    Thanks Hannah

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