xmlns:fb='http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml' Trinidad Pepper Roti (Peppah Roti)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Trinidad Pepper Roti (Peppah Roti)

Trinidad Pepper Roti, pronounced "Pep-Ah Ro-Tee", is a rather recent addition to the food scene in Trinidad and Tobago-most likely in the past two decades. If it existed prior to that time, I never encountered it. I first tasted it at a Diwali Nagar several years ago in Chaguanas, Trinidad. 

If you think one paratha is amazing, try having two at the same time! A pepper filling made with carrots, hot pepper/s(which can be roasted), bell pepper, pimento peppers, seasoned with garlic and culantro(bandhania/shado beni) is sandwiched between the two flaky layers of roti. Melty, Trinidad cheese(New Zealand Cheddar) is placed over the carrot filling, or sometimes mixed into the filling, to help seal the deal.

While it is called Pepper Roti, when making it at home you can control the heat or eliminate the pepper, which defeats the purpose, however, we all have individuals in our household/family who can't tolerate pepper. Trinidadian food is flexible and not necessarily uncontrollably "spicy", even though the people are. 

You may use Trinidad cheese(traditional version), white sharp cheddar, a mixture of cheddar and mozarella, pepper jack or your favorite cheese. With everything else you can control the amount of cheese you use. 

A special thank you to my cousin Sunita, a caterer, who recently visited from Trinidad, for inspiring the creation of this recipe and kindly sharing her ingredient combo, techniques and method. Also a special thanks to my friends on CookingwithRia FB page, whose desire for an immediate recipe, prompted me to learn the art of video filming and editing in one week! This recipe is in a different format and requires you to view the video on YouTube.

Click here to view on You Tube.

Trinidad Pepper Roti
Makes 3 (on a 10 inch tawa/flat iron)

Serves 6-8


3 large potatoes ( 1 & 1/2 lbs), peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt (to boil potatoes)

1 medium carrot, chopped small
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped, optional
4 large cloves garlic (use more if very small)
4 pimento peppers, stems removed
Hot red pepper (habanero, scotch bonnet, cherry), or to taste (1 Mild, 2 Hot, 3+ Fire in de hole/Burn)
6-8 leaves bandhania (culantro)
1-2 teaspoons Himalayan salt, or to taste

1/3 cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee) or organic sweet cream butter

8 oz grated cheese (Trinidadian, white or yellow cheddar), or to taste

Prep Work:

1. Peel, dice and rinse potatoes. Place in a pot over high heat and cover with water. Stir in salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain completely and cool.
2. While potatoes are cooking, place the remaining ingredients(make sure they are dry) in a food processor and mince until fine(alternately you can grate the carrot with a grater).
3. Add minced veggies to potatoes, mash with a fork or masher until lump free and thoroughly combined. Add salt to taste.
4. Grate cheese 
5. Mash butter into oil and mix until fluffy.


4 cups organic unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1 tablespoon raw brown sugar
2 cups lukewarm water (sometimes you may require a little less)
1 tablespoon oil
Flour for dusting (also known as partan)


Knead flour

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
2. Gradually add water to make a shaggy soft dough.
3. Rub 1 tablespoon oil over dough and Keep covered until ready to use.. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 15-30 minutes. 
4. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes. 
Tip: You want a soft sticky dough, if it’s too sticky and unable to handle well, add 1 tbs flour at a time-until you are able to handle.

Wrap dough

1. Using one dough at a time, press into a large circle using fingers or rolling pin. Using your fingers (or the bottom of a spoon) rub the surface of the dough with the butter-oil mixture.
2. Sprinkle on flour. Cut dough downwards from the center of the dough downward. Roll clockwise into a cone. Take the end of the dough and tuck it under the base of the cone.
3. Push the tip of the cone downwards into the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.
4. When ready to cook the roti, heat tawa, dry cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat until hot and brush with the butter oil mixture.
5. Working with one ball of dough at a time (keep the remaining dough covered) and using just enough flour to prevent sticking to counter and rolling pin, press dough into a small flat circle (about 4 inches).
6. Using the rolling pin, roll the dough. Flip, rotate and roll until it becomes a thin, even 10 inch round(or as wide as your tawa/griddle), making sure that the edges are not thick. If you can't make it round, don't worry, it tastes just as good and you have the opportunity to stretch and fix once it's on the tawa.

Fill Dough

1. Divide filling into thirds and place 1/3 on dough and spread evenly with a fork or your hands, leaving one-inch edge all around. 
2. Sprinkle on 1/3 cheese or to taste(I prefer less cheese if using yellow cheddar). 
3. Moisten edges with water.
4. Using another loyah, roll out dough into a 10 inch round (or same size as the previous) and place on top of the filling. 
5. Seal edges by pressing with your fingers or with a fork.

Cook Dough

1. Heat tawa over a medium flame.
2. When hot, pick up the filled dough gently, place it on the palm of your hand and lay it gently on the tawa.
Tip:Press with the palm of your hands to flatten and disperse filling that may have moved while       transferring. 
3. Brush about 1 tablespoon butter mixture over the surface of the roti and cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip when the bottom is golden brown.
4. Drizzle or brush oil over the other side. Flip.
5. Cook for a minute more, spinning roti slowly in a clockwise direction to allow the oil to spread and the roti to cook evenly. Press edges to hasten cooking. Repeat flipping and cooking if necessary until roti is fully cooked.
6. When the pepper roti is fully cooked and is a nice golden brown on both sides and crispy, use two wooden spatulas to transfer to a flat surface (lined with parchment paper) and cut into quarters or eights. 

Wrap immediately in a clean, dry cloth, however, I like to eat it while it's hot and crispy.

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For the love of cooking,

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