There’s been emails, Facebook wall messages and tons of comments from avid readers who are all interested in learning how to make one of the most popular roti on the islands. As I’ve mentioned in the past, our cuisine is heavily influenced by the many cultures that make up the cosmopolitan islands of the Caribbean, especially Trinidad and Tobago. When most people outside the Caribbean think about roti, they immediately associate it with being Indian, but if you’ve ever had the pleasure of eating any “Indian” influenced food from the Caribbean… you’ll know that we took their idea and perfected it Not just Indian food, but the same can be said for Chinese as well. Over the years we’ve taken these wonderful ways of preparing foods and added a unique tropical twist to it and it’s become part of our culinary heritage. Don’t take my word for it… go into any Caribbean restaurant if you live outside the Caribbean and order any of their curry dishes and you’ll ‘taste” what I mean.
Personally this is my all-time favourite roti so when I make it, it’s usually done in batches so I can freeze some for days I don’t feel like cooking.. The recipe below will make 6 fairly large buss up shut roti. You have the option of placing (portion size) in freezer lock bags and freezing any leftovers. They can last up to 2 months and all you have to do is pop them (in the bag) into your microwave and heat on high for 50 seconds, then flip and nuke for another 40 seconds and they’ll be pretty close to the day they were originally made.
5 cups of flour (all purpose)
3 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups of water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (to work into dough)
mixture of 1 tablespoon margarine and 5 table spoon vegetable oil
You’ll also need (for cooking)
– tawa or non stick skillet (frying pan)
– 2 wooden spatula
– pastry brush (grab a cheap 1 inch paint brush from the dollar store)
– rolling pin
* I’ll try to explain each step as best as I can with pictures, so you may find that this page will take a bit longer than usual to load. It’s due to the number of pics I have to include. Additionally, I’ll update the FaceBook fan page as well as the Youtube Channel with a video showing how to work the dough properly, so you can log on there to check it out as an added resource.
Start by getting the base dough ready. In a large bowl add the flour, salt and baking powder. Then add the water (add 2 cups first and add as needed) and knead. If you have a good food processor you can use that as well. After you’ve got a solid dough ball (large) add the 1 table spoon of oil and knead again. This entire kneading process should not take more than 5 minutes. Now cover the bowl with the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.
Now that the dough is rested, we’ve got to separate the dough into the size we’ll need for each roti. Break the big dough ball into 6 even-sized balls (keep some flour handy to dust your work surface and hands to prevent sticking). All you’re doing is breaking into 6 pieces, then go back and work into a well rounded ball as in the pictures below.
In a small bowl, place the margarine and 5 table spoons of oil and mix together (the margarine must be soft). Now take one of the small balls we just created and get ready to work a bit more. Dust your surface with flour and roll out into a full circle (the size of your tawa … about 10-12 inches in diameter), flip and roll as needed to form a complete circle. The next step is to use a knife and cut from the middle out … a straight cut (see pic below). Then using your fingers or brush, dip into the oil/ margarine mixture and rub onto the rolled out dough (lightly). Then we’ll take up one of the cut ends and start rolling in a clock-wise direction to form a roll (sort of log). As you come to the end of the roll, pinch the edge so it sticks together. Then using your fingers (refer to pic below and video mentioned above) press to tuck in both ends and place back onto the counter surface. Gently tap down onto the ball of dough to flatten a bit and set aside. Do the same for the remaining 5 dough balls.
Again cover with plastic wrap so it’s somewhat air tight and allow to rest for at least 1 hour. Typically, for best results I’d allow it to rest for about 4 hours. The step above will give you layers that buss up shut is so famous for and by adding the oil/margarine layer before we rolled it, it will have that sort of silky pastry-like texture. I’ve tested using butter, but I find that using margarine gives better results. Traditionally, I believe some people use ghee (clarified butter), but I’m quite happy with the results I get from the oil/margarine combo I use.
Let’s get to finally cooking now. (after the dough is full rested)
- place the tawa on medium/high heat and brush a layer of the same oil/margarine mixture we made earlier onto it
- dust your work surface with flour and roll out one of the dough balls we had resting
- make a complete circle to fit the size of the tawa or pan that you’re using., then place onto the now hot tawa
- brush the top (uncooked surface) with some of the oil mixture
- cook for about 25 seconds, then flip and brush this side with the oil now .. cook for another 25 seconds or so.
- flip one more time and cook until you get a sort of light golden colour happening on both sides (about 1 minute or so)
- take the 2 wooden spatulas and crush the now cooked roti (see the action in the pics below)
- repeat the process for the remaining 5. Brush tawa with oil, place rolled out dough, brush with oil, flip, brush with oil..flip a couple times more .. then beat with spatula.
That’s it! You’re done. Place onto a paper towel and wrap in a kitchen towel to keep warm. If you leave it open for too long, it may go a bit stiff and loose it wonderful “silky” texture.
Some of you may be asking what’s with the name “Buss Up Shut”. It’s due to the finished texture of the roti. Basically we’re comparing it to a torn or ripped shirt. So buss up shut is our island dialect or accent at work.
So what is a tawa? It’s basically a flat steel round pan that’s used to cook roti on the stove top. You can also search online for chapati tawa if you’re looking to purchase one. A stove top skillet or large non-stick frying pan works just as well.
TIP! If you find that “beating” the roti on the stove is difficult, simply place a kitchen towel into a large bowl and drop the cooked roti into it and with tongs (it will be hot) repeat. By dropping it, it will get to the right finished texture as if you “beat” it on the stove with the 2 spatulas. You don;t have to be gentle.. beat that roti!
I really hope you give this a try as not only is it very simple to make, it’s one of the best roti you’ll ever eat. Growing up I was intimidated by the prospect of making this, but Ive learn that it’s very simple to make, as long as you follow the stops I outlined above.
Please leave me you comments below.happy cooking