Many different variations of flat breads are found in many cultures across the globe, from South Asia to the Americas. The traditional flat bread originating from the South Asia is commonly known as roti; pronounced "rho tee". It is normally eaten with cooked vegetables or curries as in the goat roti; it can be called a carrier for curries or cooked vegetables. It is made most often from wheatflour, cooked on a flat or slightly concave iron griddle called a tawa. It is similar to the tortilla in appearance. Like breads around the world, roti is a staple accompaniment to other foods, and may be spread with ghee (clarified butter). In Iran, the two variants of this bread are: khaboos and lavash. These two breads (the former of which is almost exactly prepared like Indian roti) are quite similar to other South Asian rotis.
In Sri Lanka, probably the most popular type of roti is pol roti (coconut roti), made of wheat flour, kurakkan flour or a mixture of both, and scraped coconut. Sometimes, chopped green chillies and onion are added to the mixture before cooking. These are usually thicker and harder than other roti types. They are usually eaten with curries, or some types of sambol or lunu miris and considered a main meal rather than a supplement.
In the West Indies, roti is referred to in two ways, the roti itself and the roti used as wrap with any sort of savory stuffing. The traditional way of eating roti among Indo-Caribbeans at home is still to break the roti with their hands and to use it to sop up curry or stew.
The roti wrap is the commercialization of roti and curry as a fast-food item in the Caribbean. The wrap roti originated in southern Trinidad. It was first created in the mid-1940s by Sackina Karamath who later founded Hummingbird Roti Shop in San Fernando, Trinidad, to make it easier and faster to eat the items, as the individuals' hands would not get as dirty. In Trinidad and Tobago, various wrapped "roti" are served, including chicken, conch, beef, and vegetable. Shrimp and goat are also available. Because the roti acts as a wrap, numerous combinations can be made, but the most popular tend to be curried items.
Later, when Guyanese and Trinidadians moved to other Caribbean islands or to North American cities like Toronto, New York City, and Montreal, the wrapped roti is the version that most non-Indo-Caribbean people know as roti. It has also become popular among non-West Indians. As the popularity of the West Indian style roti grew in more recent times, some individuals and restaurants/commercial companies may now refer to a plain roti by itself as "roti shell or skin" to avoid confusion.
Roti features prominently in the diets of many West Indian countries, especially Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname. West Indian roti are primarily made from wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and water, and cooked on a tava. Certain rotis are also made with butter. Several types of roti are made in Guyana, Trinidad, and where ever else they settled.
Guyanese roti, clapped and ready to be eaten.
Depending on where Indians settled in Guyana, foods can be different. In some parts of Guyana, Dosti Roti is made. Indo-Guyanese food as a whole can be different from their Trinidadian brothers, including the names of many items.
A small amount of fat is placed in each piece of dough before it is rolled out to make the roti softer. Usually vegetable oil is used, but butter, or margarine can also be used. Ghee is not used in everyday Guyanese cooking, and is only used by the Hindus on religious occasions. The Roti is usually clapped by hand or beaten a bit, hot off the tava, so it softens but does not break.
A good roti in Guyana is one that is very soft, with layers (almost like pastry layers if possible), which remains whole. An individual would be ridiculed if the roti breaks apart.
The type of roti one gets is determined by what is placed in the dough before it is rolled out. Various types include Dhalpuri, aloo (potato) roti, and even sugar(to keep the kids busy, while the mother finishes cooking).
Among the Indo-Guyanese, a rolled out thin flat dough like a roti that is deep fried in ghee is called a puri, and is only made for Hindu religious gatherings. Therefore a Dalpuri is not really a puri, as a puri and a roti are two different things.
Another item prepared like roti is bake or bakes or floats. A Guyanese or Trinidadian fry bake seems to be more similar to an Indian puri. Bake is made with butter or margarine and has a different ratio of flour to fat. It is made much quicker than roti and is usually made in the mornings. Dough is rolled out and cut into shapes or rolled into small rounds. Guyanese bakes or floats are fried, but bakes from other parts of the West Indies can be baked in an oven. Bake are usually paired with a quick fryup for breakfast or dinner, stewed saltfish, or eggs (western style — onions, tomatoes, green peppers). Bakes are also made in other parts of the West Indies including Trinidad, Barbados and St. Vincent.
In Suriname roti refers mainly to roti dahlpuri or roti aloopuri. It is most often eaten with chicken curry. Roti can also refer to a dish of stuffed and spiced roti wraps. It is custom to eat this dish by hand. Due to mass emigration of Surinam Hindustani in the 1970s, roti became a popular take-out dish in the Netherlands. It usually includes chicken curry, potatoes, a boiled egg and various vegetables, most notably the kousenband or yardlong bean. Another variation includes shrimp and aubergine. The meat with gravy, potatoes, egg and yardlong beans are served side by side on a plate, with the aloopura folded in fours on top. One then has the option to spice the dish with a very hot chutney made of Madame Jeanette peppers.
Roti, pronounced "Rooti" in Cape Town, is also a staple food source amongst many of the Indian, Asian and Cape coloured communities living in South Africa and is either eaten as a flat bread or a wrap with locally made curries.
This is a plain roti, made of white flour. Because it is the simplest roti to make, it is the most commonly consumed roti in Trinidad. It is a popular breakfast option in Trinidad, in combination with tomato and eggplant, and other vegetable dishes.
A roti made with butter, usually ghee (Clarified Butter) but any butter can be used with it, the roti is put onto the tawa and butter is spread out onto it, partha eventually turns brown, and has more taste than the plain traditional roti, paratha is traditionally eaten with fried eggs and/or a cup of tea. Ghee is rubbed on both sides, then it is cooked on tawa (a round, flat metal griddle used in Indian cooking). This gives the roti a crisp outside. When it almost finished cooking, the cook begins to beat the roti while it is on the tawa, causing it to crumble. It is also called 'Buss-Up-Shut' in Trinidad.
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 eaten in Guyana with a special halva when a child is born.
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.
A popular sandwich made by folding a curry stew inside of a Dhalpuri roti skin. Curry stew normally contains potatoes and a meat of some sort like chicken, goat, beef or shrimp.
A wrap roti that usually contains only potatoes and gravy, and scrap meat. Piper roti got its name by being a cheaper alternative to purchasing a regular roti. The term "piper" is the local slang used to describe a drug addict; most of his money is spent on drugs and the little he has remaining will purchase food.
A roti similar to a Dhalpuri but with aloo (potato) substituted for the dhal. The aloo is boiled, milled and spices and seasonings are added before being sealed in the dough. This aloo filling is also used when making aloo pie or aloo choka.