The idea of tracing connections between cultures through food has always fascinated me a lot. It’s the simplest way to know how similar we human beings are and the differences are really just there to add colour and diversity to our planet. I chose flatbread/Roti as an example to build a bridge between my South Asian meal time staple and its many variants enjoyed world over by different names.
Unleavened flat bread/Roti is the simplest and most certainly the earliest form of bread. More than 12,000 years ago, primitive people made flat breads by mixing flour and water and placing these cake like shapes in the sun to bake. Later bread was baked on heated stones or under hot ashes of fire. Traditional griddles evolved from a stone or brick slab or tablet to metallic and wrought iron disks and the plain Roti made over these griddles or tawas travelled far and wide in every corner of the world with our nomadic ancestors. Simple flat bread evolved into many variations and adapted to ingredients availability, economic and social conditions, advances in technology and local taste.
I was introduced to the Caribbean cuisine by my good friend Larry Fournillier, who is a chef par excellence from Trinidad, an expert in the Caribbean cuisine and a social media rock star. Check out his You Tube Channel for more authentic Caribbean recipes. Fortunately for me, he shares my passion to connect people through food. It’s an honour for me to work with him on his exciting upcoming project where he is planning to bring together foodies from all over the planet.
Caribbean cuisine is an exquisite melting pot of African, Asian, European, and Carib Indian (the area’s original inhabitants) foods. Trini Roti Paratha, popularly known as Buss Up Shut is a beautiful specimen of cultural fusion in the region. In both Trinidad and India, griddled flatbreads are popular breakfast food, since South Asian immigrants introduced many food traditions to the West Indies.
Soft and light, but at the same time crispy and flaky, this yummy flat bread closely resemble South Asian style layered paratha and pooris but has a distinct identity of it’s own.Buss Up Shut is made using white flour instead of the wheat flour used in India and is leavened with baking soda. It’s kneaded and set aside to rest before being folded into layers. But the key difference is in the way it’s cooked. As soon as the Roti is light golden, it’s taken off the heat and is gently crushed that makes it look a lot like a torn, busted-up shirt —thus the popular name…Buss Up Shut.
The Trini Roti Paratha served as street food is at times quite thick. I made two parathas with different thickness to experiment with the texture. The thinner one turned out more flaky and crispy, while the thicker paratha was softer and melted in the mouth. One Buss Up Shut is usually enough for two people. And it’s so versatile that it can be enjoyed with any vegetarian or non vegetarian curry. I served mine with Aloo Chana (potato and chickpeas curry). Stay tuned to get the recipe for the Trini style curry in my next post.
1+1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter or ghee (clarified butter)
Water to knead the dough
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee for frying
This Is What You Do:
Make a well in the centre of the flour mix. Add a little water and bring in flour from the sides and keep mixing. Keep adding water as needed till all the flour comes together. Knead the dough till it becomes a solid ball. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and knead again.
Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or damp towel and leave for 30 minutes.
After the dough has rested, break it into 2 equal portions. Dust a work top with flour, roll the dough portions into a little flour so that they don’t stick to your hands. Make well rounded dough balls/peras or loyas with them.
Dust the work top again with flour. Take one dough ball and roll it out into a big full circle, flip and roll out again. Brush the Roti with butter or ghee.
Make a cut with a knife from the middle of the Roti outwards. Take up one of the cut ends and start rolling it in a clock wise motion towards the other cut end to form a cone shaped roll.
Make the cone stand on the work top, fat side down. Press the pointed peak of the cone down and flatten the centre of the cone, once again making it a dough ball. Repeat with the other dough ball.
Leave the dough balls to rest again for 15 minutes.
Roll out again on a floured surface into thin, round rotis.
Generously grease a tawa/griddle with ghee or oil. Place the Roti on it. While one side is cooking, spread the upper side with ghee/oil. Flip to cook the other side.
When cooked on both sides to golden perfection, wrap in a clean cloth and break with your hands to enhance its flakiness.
Serve hot with any vegetarian or non vegetarian curry.