Hey Mon! Da’ cold winta weatha gotcha down na’? Try dis warmin street treat from Trinidad – Talkin bout da Shrimp Roti na’, ya know…
This Shrimp Roti and Rum Punch post is the first in a new Wine-y-Wife series – Street Food from around the world (from the book Street Food). I am pleased to be the guest Chef, Photographer, Culinary Historian, and Writer for this weekly series – as I’ve been promised to be paid in kisses from the Wine-y-Wife herself!
I’ve always been fascinated by local street cuisine, the kind of food you grab while running from point A to point B on any given day. I feel that in most American small towns we cheat ourselves by making “fast food” McClowns, Red Pig Tails on a Bun, or Monarch Burger but larger urban areas, especially places like New York, Portland, LA, and Seattle have thriving street food cultures that give me hope for the dream of great food everywhere.
Outside of the US, street food is not pretentious, not fancy, most often not expensive, and it is what the locals eat; so very often it is super fresh, and nearly always fantastic. I’ve never been to most of places I will be researching and preparing food from, but by learning about and creating a dish from a far off land I can get a peek into the culture and people – I can close my eyes, savor the bite, and transport myself to a bustling bazaar, or a busy market. I can come home from work on any given Wednesday night and suddenly be in India, France, Spain, wherever…
So come with me! Today we are going to Trinidad…
In Northern India, roti is the collective word for all breads, but both name and concept have migrated around the world, especially to the islands of the Caribbean, where the word now means the whole dish – the bread plus the curry served with it.
In Trinidad, roti are sold from colorful stalls set out under the coconut palms during the day, or at night from lantern-lit kiosks beside the beach, with steel drum music as a background.
- 1 and ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 and ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ¾ cup of milk
- ¾ cup of melted butter
- 4 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
- 4 inches of fresh ginger finely sliced
- 8 scallions, chopped
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 1 pound (16 oz) peeled raw shrimp
- 8 tablespoons toasted, dried coconut
- 4 tablespoons cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Rum Punch: (makes 2 and ½ quarts)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 cups simple syrup
- 3 cups good quality dark rum
- 4 cups water
- 1 (man sized) thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into about 4 chunks
- The rinds from at least two of your juiced limes
- Mix the flours and salt in a bowl. Pour the milk into a large bowl and stir in 18 tablespoons of warm water. Add 1 tablespoon of melted butter, then mix in the flour gradually to form a soft dough. Gather the dough together into a ball in the bowl and knead for 2 minutes. Clean the bowl with the ball of dough as you go. Remove the dough, brush the bowl with oil, replace the dough, and then turn it over so it is coated with oil on all sides, Transfer to a plastic bag and let sit for at least 1 hour.
- When ready to cook, divide the dough into 12 equal balls. Roll one ball to a circle 8 inches in diameter.
- Brush with melted butter and fold in half. Press the edges to seal. Butter the top surface and fold in half again to form a triangle. Press the edges to seal. Roll out into a larger triangle with sides approximately 8 inches. Repeat with the other balls to form 12 roti.
- Heat a cast iron pan or griddle and brush with butter. Add a roti and cook 4 – 5 minutes, turning often until aromatic, firm and speckled with brown, place on a cookie sheet covered with a tea towel to keep warm as you repeat with the remaining roti.
- Heat a skillet, add the curry paste, ginger, scallions, and coconut milk. Cook uncovered at a simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Add the coconut and shrimp and cook until the shrimp is firm but not rubbery (5 – 8 minutes). Spoon into bowls and add the cilantro and salt to taste.
- Combine all the ingredients in a 3 quart pitcher or punch bowl, stir and serve in glasses filled with ice.
I think if you are trying this dish for the first time – go for broke and make the Roti so you can get the full experience. However, my opinion is that a really good store bought pita or nan bushed with butter and warmed on the stove would be just as good and turn this from a 4 hour meal into a 30 minute meal.
The curry is simple, fast, flavorful, and easily outmatches pretty much any take out. The star of this meal however is the Rum Punch. It is one of those drinks that goes down WAY too smooth and can get you into trouble fast – definitely an adult entertainment staple at DiMercurio parties from now on. If you want to make less or try out different variations just remember this formula:
1 of sour
2 of sweet
3 of strong
4 of weak
If you happen to give it a try – let me know what you thought! Did it whisk you away to tropical paradise or have you trapped in a never ending hell of Roti dough?
Farewell for now, I hope your week is filled with culinary travels and wonderful food. See you all next week when nibble on warm pissaladiere wrapped in brown paper as we tour the food market in Nice, France.
~Vito DiMercurio – Husband to the Wine-y-wife