A roti and a red Solo

Imagine I had to come all the way to Brooklyn to get this classic Trini combo but at last I was able to satisfy my curry craving.  I was a bit skeptical at first when I approached Ali’s Trinidad Roti Shop on Fulton Street.  From the outside, the establishment did not look very promising – a bit dingy and run down.  Desperation and hunger won out though and I ventured inside to surprisingly clean surroundings, warm and welcoming Trini accents and the delicious smell of curry, cumin and ghee.

It wasn’t the best roti I’ve ever eaten but it was huge, the skin was light and fluffy and the chicken was tasty and well seasoned. It was a nice reminder of home and will tide me over until my next trip home.  Forgive the less than stellar pics but I was ravenous after a day of shopping and only remembered to take some snapshots halfway through the meal!

Corn on the cob (Tobago style) a.k.a “boiled corn”

A recipe for boiled corn? Surely you jest! But we’re not talking any old boiled corn here.  You see, when Tobagonians prepare corn it’s more than just some salt and pat of butter.  Our corn is boiled in a savoury concoction of herbs and spices giving it a totally unique flavour.  We typically enjoy it as snack rather than as a side to meal.  In Trinidad, you can purchase it from street-side vendors on the way to the beach, on the side of the road after a party and all through the day on Carnival.

What to use

4 freshly husked ears of corn

water

shadon beni or culantro (chopped)

thyme (chopped)

chive (chopped)

1/2 white onion (chopped)

2 pimento peppers (chopped)

parsley (chopped)

4 cloves garlic ( finely chopped)

2 tbs salt

1 tbs black pepper

1 cup coconut milk

1 hot pepper (whole)

What to do

Place corn in large pot  with enough water to cover corn.   Add remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat for about 2 hrs or until corn is tender.   Serve hot sprinkled with some sea salt and chopped parsley.  Enjoy.

Get those toothpicks ready!

Homemade Doubles

Aaaahhh…. doubles! The most popular and revered street food in Trinidad!  How I missed thee! Who would have thought that bara and curried channa (chick peas) would be elevated to such a status?  Needless to say, there are no doubles vendors in the Cayman Islands.  Sigh…  My Saturday routine usually involves running errands, shopping,  getting the nails done etc. If I were at home, these errands would be punctuated by a trip to my favorite doubles man for two with slight pepper.  So in the midst of my running around today I had the bright idea that I would make my own doubles. Three hours, one smoky kitchen and two burning eyes later I am proud to say that I was able to treat myself to three tasty doubles.  Here’s the proof!

First things first, the recipe (taken from my cooking bible, the Naparima Girls’ High School Cookbook).

What to use

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin (geera)

1/4 tsp sugar

1 tsp instant yeast

1/2 lb channa (chick peas) soaked overnight ( I used canned chick peas).

1 tbsp vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic (minced)

1 onion (sliced)

2 tbsp curry powder

1 1/4 cups water

inch of ground cumin (geera)

1 tsp salt

1 hot pepper to taste

1 cup oil for frying

pepper sauce

What to do

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, turmeric, cumin, sugar and yeast.  Add enough lukewarm water to make a soft dough, mix well, cover and let rise fro 1 1/2 hours.

Boil soaked channa in salted water until tender.  Drain well.  Heat oil in a heavy skillet or iron pot, add garlic, onion and curry powder mixed with 1/4 cup water; saute for a few minutes.  Add channa, stir to coat well and cook for 5 minutes; add 1 cup water, geera, salt and pepper. Cover, lower heat and simmer until channa is soft; add more water if necessary.  When channa is finished, it should be soft and moist; adjust seasoning to taste.

Punch down dough and allow to relax for 10 to 15 minutes.  To shape bara, take about 1 tbs of dough, pat with both hands to flatten to a circle 4″ or 5″ in diameter; use water to moisted palms of hands as dough mgiht stick to hands.

Fry a few at a time in hot oil; turn once and drain on kitchen paper.

Assemble doubles.

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So everything was going swimmingly until I tried to roll out the doubles to fry them.  At first the dough was too sticky so I added more flour.  Then the dough would tear apart when I tried to flatten it with my hands. Grrrr…. So  then I decided to resort to my rolling pin.  The first few attempts were not inspiring! It is harder than it looks people!  My first few baras came out looking like  misshapen fried bakes. lol

First failed batch!

Then I figured I better fry them one at time.  It only takes seconds for the bara to be done so you have to move very quickly.  Eventually, I was able to get a decent batch of six. Yay!

They were still looking a little too fat for my liking but they eventually deflated a bit and looked more like the real deal.

 

Then I put together my toppings – mango chutney, mango kutchela, and cucumber.  The cucumber I did myself.  I just grated some cucumber with the skin on and added salt, pepper and minced pimento peppers.

 

And finally, I was able to dig in!

 


 

 

 

 

Maracas Bake and Shark

This lovely sandwich is a must have when you visit the famous Maracas beach on the North Coast of Trinidad. Freshly fried fish, a light fluffy bake and a variety of toppings.  I always get the works – lettuce, tomato, cucumber, shredded cabbage and pineapple.  And you can’t forget the condiments! Tamarind sauce, chadon beni (a variety of cilantro) sauce, mango chutney, kuchela and the usual suspects of ketchup, mustard, pepper and garlic sauce. Are you drooling yet?

 

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