Today, we are headed to St. Lucia for its famous chicken roti.
The cuisine of St. Lucia and the Caribbean
St. Lucia, which is nicknamed La Belle Helene was the subject of a tough fight between the French and the English. The island is also known as the Helen of the West in comparison to Helen of Troy (Helen of the East), which was in ancient times the subject of a tug of war between Greek princes and Trojans.
The history of Caribbean cuisine is a story of encounters, exchanges and cultural syncretism. It is the result of indigenous, African, Creole, European and Asian influences that bring to the table simple, fresh, colorful and fragrant ingredients that blend in order to give life to mouth-watering recipes with the exotic touch that sets apart the typical dishes of the Caribbean. Ingredients such as yuca (cassava), black beans and plantain are the undisputed staples of good Caribbean cuisine.
Caribbean cuisine also reflects Spanish and Portuguese influences: traditional dishes are full of herbs, spices, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers, beans and a wide variety of tropical fruits. The cuisine is also very rich in fish.
Strongly influenced by West African, British, French and Indian cuisines, the tasty gastronomy of St. Lucia is a cuisine you should not miss. Stews, soups and pies are regularly prepared and accompanied by fresh vegetables produced on the island. The influence of eastern India on the island’s cuisine has created a number of unique curries and, because of the ingredients available in St Lucia, most curries have a distinctly Caribbean twist.
What is chicken roti?
The Caribbean bread called roti is clearly of Indian origin and is very often used in Caribbean cuisine to accompany curries and stews.
Caribbean cuisine is the result of a tasty melting pot from all the people who came ashore. The Indian influence is manifested by the rotis, pancakes stuffed with meat or fish and vegetables. Rotis in the Caribbean cuisine, including St. Lucia, are pancakes similar to tortillas but lighter, stuffed with a variety of ingredients including chicken curry, shrimp or lamb.
What is roti?
Roti or rotti is a typical South Asian type of bread eaten in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It is also widespread in parts of South Africa and the southern Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname.
The roti and its smaller version, the chapati, constitute a very important part of the Indian and Pakistani cuisines.
In India, there are three main methods of preparation of roti: one consists in baking it on a tava (a flat, convex or concave plate), without fat, or with a little ghee or oil. The second method is to fry the dough in a karahi (a type of pan). And the third is to bake it in a tandoor (oven).
In most cases, the roti is not fermented. However, it is sometimes necessary to let it rest before baking for at least 30 minutes.
Unleavened roti, cooked on a tava, include chapatis, rumals and phulkas, a special type of chapati, which is seasoned by burning it briefly on hot coals. Those which are baked with fats are called paratha, they can be plain or stuffed with a wide range of fodder.
Yeast roti include naan, kulcha and sheermal. These types of bread are typical especially in areas such as Punjab, Hyderabad and Kashmir, where tandoors are the most used.
In the four corners of the world, people bake flat breads similar to rotis. I was born in Morocco and preparing these rotis reminded me of the making of m’ssemen and moflettas.
The chicken roti of Saint Lucia encloses a deliciously fragrant chicken curry, simple and quick to prepare!
Chicken roti are typical flatbreads from the West Indies, and particularly Saint Lucia that are stuffed curried chicken.
- 3 chicken breasts , diced
- 1 onion , diced
- ½ green bell pepper , diced
- ½ red bell pepper , cut into strips
- 1 carrot , peeled and diced
- 2 potatoes , peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic , crushed
- 1 cube chicken bouillon
- 1 cup hot water
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- ½ bunch parsley , finely chopped
- A few basil leaves (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 3½ cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup water (warm)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- Sunflower oil (for frying)
Add oil to a pan and sauté garlic and onion for 2 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and sauté until cooked but tender.
- Add bell peppers and carrots and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken bouillon cube, dissolved in water.
- Bring to a boil and add the potatoes, salt, pepper, and cover.
- Simmer over medium-low heat until the potatoes are tender. If necessary, increase the heat to reduce the broth.
- Halfway through cooking, add the herbs and curry powder.
- Set aside to cool while preparing rotis.
- Sift flour and baking powder.
- Mix flour, salt, garlic and baking powder.
- Make a well in the middle, pour in water and oil and mix all ingredients. Knead at least 3 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
- Cover the dough and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Drop the dough on a floured surface, divide it into 10 or 12 balls.
- Cover to prevent from drying .
- Brush a little oil on a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Lightly flour the work surface. Take a ball of dough, flatten it with the palm of the hand, turn it over and flatten again.
Roll out with a rolling pin and form a thin disk of 6 to 8 inches (15-20cm) in diameter.
- Cook about 1 minute on each side. Be careful not to overcook as the rotis should remain flexible and white.
- Repeat until all the batter is done.
- Stack rotis and cover with a cloth until the end of the baking.
- Warm roti if necessary and place on a platter.
- Put a generous amount of stuffing.
- Fold according to the chosen shape (cone, tube, square, triangle, etc.)