I was visiting yesterday with my friend Roshani and we got to talking about Trinidadian food. Before long, I had a serious craving for something hot and spicy and Caribbean.
By the time I got home, the thing uppermost in my mind was to get into the kitchen and make something divinely Trinidadian.
I was in luck. My favorite cookbook, Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, had quite a few choices. What I really wanted to make was Doubles, the dish Roshani had been raving about and which is a fried bread topped with a spicy chickpea stew and mango chutney. But I settled instead on a healthier choice that required no deep-frying: A roti or a flatbread stuffed with a spicy lentil mixture.
I don't easily change other cooks' recipes the first time I make them because hey, how could I improvise on something when I don't know if the original tastes better? In fact, the only reason I do make changes when I cook a recipe for the first time is when I need to veganize it because this is, after all, a vegan blog, or to make a recipe healthier, or when I don't have the exact ingredients on hand.
I did healthify Jaffrey's recipe: for the roti, I cut down on the fat, used canola oil instead of butter (a much healthier alternative), and I substituted whole-wheat durum flour for the all-purpose. I didn't make any changes to the stuffing, however, which was delicious except--again--to cut down on the fat.
The great thing about these breads is not only are they exotic and delicious, but they are also very well balanced nutritionally-- the lentils and wheat together form a perfect protein, which is great for anyone looking to eat healthy. I served this with a gorgeous Green Beans and Potato Curry with Trinidadian Spices, and I'll be posting that recipe tomorrow.
Here, then, is the recipe. The process for making the stuffed bread is very similar to the way we Indians make parathas, but I included some additional pictures to demystify the process.
Trinidadian Rotis Stuffed with Split Peas
(Makes 8 7-inch rotis)
For the dough:
3 cups whole-wheat durum flour
2 tbsp canola oil
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Mix the ingredients and rub the oil into the flour with your hands to get a coarse, grainy texture. Using just enough water, knead into a soft, smooth, pliable dough that's NOT sticky. (You can do this in a stand mixer or a food processor). Place in an airtight container and set aside.
For the stuffing:
1 cup yellow split peas or tuvar dal, soaked at least 2 hours, drained, then covered with water and boiled until tender with 1/2 tsp turmeric.
1 onion, minced (you don't want large pieces of onion that will tear through the dough when you're rolling out the bread).
2 green chillies, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tbsp canola oil
Heat the oil in a skillet.
Add the onions, saute for a couple of minutes until they start to turn translucent, then add garlic and green chillies.
Stir fry until the onions begin to brown. Now add the split peas, cumin, salt and black pepper.
Stir well and cook another two minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
To put together the rotis:
Divide the dough into eight parts. Form 8 smooth balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Set aside covered with a kitchen towel.
Divide the stuffing into eight parts and again, form 8 balls.
Now roll out one ball of dough to a diameter of 4 inches. Place a ball of stuffing in the center.
Gather the edges of the dough around the stuffing and seal them at the top. Press down to ensure a tight seal.
Using a little flour, roll the ball out to a roti about 7 inches in diameter. Repeat for the rest of the dough and stuffing.
Heat a cast-iron or non-stick griddle.
Smear with just a tiny amount of oil or using a non-stick spray. Now place the roti on the griddle.
When you see bubbles forming on the underside, flip the roti over and let it cook on the other side another 1 minute.
Now flip over again and cook for another half minute. Repeat for the other side.
Serve hot with the Green Beans and Potato Curry With Trinidadian Spices, which I'll post tomorrow. Until then!
These rotis are heading over to Sia's place for the 15th helping of MLLA, that wonderful event started by Susan. Thanks, Sia and Susan!