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 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.
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.
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):
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!