Over the past couple years I’ve shared a few recipes which I’ve coined as being “Ultimate” and with the popularity of this roti and the amount of requests for the recipe over the last few months I strongly believe it deserves to join the other cast members in the ultimate series. Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago dhalpuri was one of those special dishes which was made the occasional Sunday morning or when the first choice – pelau wasn’t made for a beach lime. I still recall the strong aroma of geera (cumin) roasting before it was ground and added to the dhal filling for the roti, emanating from my great aunt’s house next door. Not sure if I was one of her’s faves, but I do recall always having a portion reserved for me (her curry potato was ah bess). When I wasn’t causing trouble with my brother… I was a good boy and everyone loved me 🙂
For this recipe I got my mom’s help , so let’s give moms some props!
There are a few steps in making dhalpuri roti, so I do hope my explanation below is not too confusing. We’ll start with the filling, then the dough and close off with putting everything together and cooking the actual roti.
For the filling
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground roasted geera (cumin)
2 cups split peas (dhal)
1/4 of a scotch bonnet pepper (or any hot pepper you like)
For the dough (actual roti)
3 cups all purpose flour
pinch fast acting yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon baking powder
water (see note below)
* 5 tablespoon vegetable oil (for brushing the roti while it cooks)
Notes: We ended up using close to 1 and 3/4 cups of water when making the dough. Start with about 1 cup and add as necessary… the goal is to achieve a smooth, tender dough which is a bit firm (hold it’s shape). With the roasted geera, traditionally that’s roasted the same time the roti is being made (grains are roasted then ground) to really release the oils and aroma. But in my case I used the pre-packaged ground (roasted) one.
Making this roti can be a bit messy, especially if you have any break while cooking and with the use of the oil you’ll be brushing onto it it cooks… it may splatter onto your stove. Be prepared for some cleaning when the stove cools.
The first thing we need to do is prepare the dhal, since it needs to cool before we can work with it. Quickly sort through the 2 cups of split peas to see if there’s anything foreign among them (twigs etc – remove), then give it a good wash. Place about 5-6 cups of water to boil in a deep sauce pan and add the split peas and turmeric to the boiling water. Reduce the heat so it’s at a rolling boil and cook for about 20 minutes. NOTE: If you’re using a food processor as I did, allow it to cook for about 25-30 minutes. If using a traditional food mill, cook for the 20 minutes I mentioned.
Then drain and set aside to cool.
After you’ve put the boiled dhal (split peas) to cool, it would be a good time to start working on the dough. In a large bowl (I’m sure you can use a food processor as well – providing it can make dough) add the flour, salt, yeast, baking powder and start adding water. Knead to a firm consistency… keep adding water as necessary. Work to form a huge dough ball, then cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and allow it to rest for about 20 minutes. (pay attention to time as you don’t want the dough to over-rest)
Let’s now work on the split peas filling. I used a food processor and ran into some problems as I tried to work all at the same time and it just wasn’t happening. So I then divided it into 3 batches which was a lot easier to get to the consistency I wanted.
Place all the ingredients for making the filling into the food processor or food mill and work until you have a no whole peas or large pieces. I guess the ground peas should look similar to bread crumbs… if you have any full grains of dhal in the mix it may rip the roti while cooking. If you’re using a food mill it will have a soft, smooth consistency as the mill really grinds it in a way the food processor can’t duplicate. If you’re not familiar with what a food mill is, see below- it’s the traditional device used in preparing the dhal filling.
The next step in to break down the main dough ball into six smaller balls, then fill them with the peas filling we just made. You will have enough filling left over to make about 4 more dhalpuri so you can either freeze this or make some more dough (or cut back on the amount of split peas you prepare).
Divide the main dough into 6 pieces and form six smaller dough balls. Here’s where it may get a bit messy… flatten out each dough ball in your hand (see pics below) to form a 6 inch circle, then dust with flour and add 4 tablespoons of the filling to each. You will have to make a sort of bowl shape as you keep adding the split peas filling. Then using your fingers, form to a ball shape and pinch to seal. I do hope the pics below helps with explaining this step.
Now it’s time to heat your tawa (baking stone) on medium/high heat and brush some oil onto it’s surface. On a flour dusted surface, roll out one of the stuffed dough balls we made. Turn, flip and keep rolling until you have a pizza like shape that’s about 12-14 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Remember to consider the size of tawa you’ll be using, so you don’t end up with a roti that’s too big to fit on your tawa. I assume you could use a large non-stick frying pan if you don’t own a tawa but you may encounter a problem when trying to flip with the edges of the frying pan.
Be careful when placing the rolled out dough onto the tawa as it will be hot. After about 30 seconds, using your hand if you’re a pro or a couple spatulas flip the roti. Now give this side a quick brush with the oil. You may have to flip this a couple times. It will take a bout 4-6 minutes to fully cook and you’ll notice that it will start to “swell” or inflate as cooks. That’s a sign that it’s ready to be removed off the tawa. Repeat this step for the remaining 5 roti.
Yes, there are a few steps involved and you’re probably saying “this is exactly why I buy my dhalpuri”, but I assure you that it’s rather simple and I do hope the combination of my description and pictures above is easy to follow along. I would suggest placing these on paper towels to absorb excess oil and do wrap in paper towels or tea towel to keep them soft (the air tends to make them a bit stiff). For those of you who make dhalpuri may find that the instant yeast is a bit strange.. but I assure you that you’ll have a nice tender roti which will reheat as if they were just made. I’ve seen my mom not only wrap them in a tea towel, but place that into a plastic shopping bag to eat later that day. If you make a couple batches you can certainly freeze them. I usually place them (folded) into freezer bags and they keep for at least a month in the freezer. Then it’s just a case of nuking them in the microwave to reheat. However when reheating in the microwave, don’t put the full time at once. I usually do 45 seconds on high and depending on hot it is I then flip over and heat an additional 40 seconds.
— Winner Wanted!—
It’s that time again – we’re giving away the following book (see below) to one lucky person for the month of September. All you have to do is leave me a comment in the comments section below (please say something about this recipe) and your name will be automatically entered to win this extraordinary book written by Ramin Ganeshram. About a year ago a reader called me (fella was like FBI finding my home number) to tell me about the wonderful work Ramin did with her book “Sweet Hands – Island Cooking From Trinidad And Tobago”. After some research I not only found out that this book is a best seller on Amazon.com, I was able to make contact with Ramin via Facebook. Long story short, she sent me this copy of her book to give to one lucky reader (along with an autographed copy for moi). Note: This is the 2nd edition so you can expect even more recipes.
There are two bonus ways you can have your name entered in the contest, giving you 3 chances at winning. Along with leaving a comment below, go to the Facebook fan page and/or the Youtube cooking channel and leave a comment there. I don’t care what your comment is, but it would be nice if you could tell me what you like about Caribbean food and if the recipes I share are helpful.
Here are the rules pertaining to winning the copy of “Sweet Hands Island Cooking From Trinidad And Tobago”…
– contest is open to everyone globally
– there are 3 ways to enter your name (see above)
– 1 winner will be chosen at random (if you left 3 comments, your name will be entered 3 times)
– contest is open from September 23 – to midnight September 30.
– winner will be announced within 1 week of the official close date.
– the winner will have 1 week to contact us with mailing address
– we will cover all shipping expenses (standard mail)
I hope you take a moment to enter your name as I’d really like to mail this book out to you. It’s simple, free and a great way to experiment with some exotic and traditional recipes from Trinidad and Tobago in your kitchen. I’ not sure if you know how significant it is for someone to be a best seller (always sold out) on Amazon, but I assure you that it means that Ramin’s work is in great demand. Hopefully in the coming weeks I’ll be able to do a full review of this book, but there’s something more exciting from Ramin I’d like to share with you the first week of October. Stay tuned and good luck to everyone who enters.