Cooking in the Time of COVID-19: I Found Some Roti Skins in My Freezer … Ta Da!

Part of this odd kitchen adventure we are on takes us on expeditions to the frozen lands that are our freezers. Yesterday I found roti skins or roti bake as we Trini’s call them and people started saying whether they wanted beef or chicken.

The order was 2 beef for Logan and me and Adam and Tom opted for chicken. As I mentioned in my previous post, we seasoned quite a bit of meat this week so having chicken and beef thawed, seasoned and ready to go was a time saving bonus. Now, while I know how to make curry dishes, I am by no means an expert in roti. I don’t make my skins, I buy them and I buy the dhalpuri roti as my sons look forward to the dried split peas embedded in their roti bake. Fortunately, I had gone to the West Indian supermarket in mid February to get some ingredients to make food for my visiting guests but of course, typical me, I had so much food we never got around to making roti while they were here. So, tonight it’s roti for four, 2 beef no pepper, 2 chicken, 1 with pepper. Here’s how I did it:-

I  

I didn’t thaw the roti skins overnight as I had planned so in order to have everything ready in time for dinner, I placed them (with the parchment paper between each) on a sheet of foil, sealed them up and placed in the oven to warm at 200 degrees F in a pressure cooker like the Instant pot.for an hour. This would thaw them and warm them keeping them nice and soft.

With the skins in the oven, it was time to prepare the beef and the chicken curry. For the beef, I decided to use the Instant pot to cook it quickly and to give it that tenderness I like. No one ejoys having to gnaw on food that is tough, so for me, every time I cook stewing beef, I do it either in a slow cooker or a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot.

I am a little stuck for brands so when I stock up at the West Indian grocery I buy Chief curry powder as it is a flavor I am familiar with and I’ve been cooking with it for years. I add a little hot water to the powder, make the paste, melt some butter in my pots and added the paste in. For the chicken, I used my iron pot knowing that cooking the chicken in this would time out perfectly for when the beef was done in the Instant Pot.

     

Throw in a cube of coconut milk for flavor

So here, once the butter and paste cooked together, I added the chicken and potatoes, added a little coconut milk (I freeze coconut milk in an ice tray and put them in a freezer bag so I can use it in my cooking without having to run out and buy a can all the time) and covered the pot and reduced to medium heat, occasionally stirring. While this was happening, I did the same with the beef, covered the instant pot and let it do it’s thing for about 20 minutes.

     

Since I started cooking, from the moment I put the roti skins in the oven until the meat was done, about 40 minutes had gone by so I turned off the oven, took out the bakes and for the most part they were soft and warn. A couple of them tore in spots where they were a dry and some of the dhal spilled out a little but that was no big deal. I then put the meat on the roti bake/roti skin and folded it and wrapped it in wax paper and put them on the table labelled with one of the rotis (Adam’s) made to go because we told him we would walk it over to his apartment. That boy will not tolerate being excluded from enjoying a roti. In Trinidad, my family like many would accompany a roti with a red soft drink(pop), sweet drink or as we would call it (cutting off the last letter of the first word) a sofdrink or a sweedrink. Of course, I didn’t have one because a) I didn’t buy any when I was at the West Indian Shop, b) we don’t buy pop and c) we are supposed to be social distancing so I got creative and made a cranberry spritzer instead…Look, it red oui, and I was happy to pretend.

     

2 Beef no pepper & a Chicken with pepper to stay. One beef no pepper to go. 

Makeshift “Red Sofdrink”

I am certainly not as good as any roti shop I would ordinarily buy from and even further away from the  top quality of the roti shops in Trinidad. Roti is something that any of my cousins know they could give me as a gift when I go home for a visit because there is nothing more tasty, more special and no better way to say “I love you”, in my opinion than bringing me roti and doubles. The other thing my friends and cousins know I crave when I go home, is Kibbeh from our Syrian/Lebanese community and they never disappoint. Oh Lord, I digress thinking about all the good food in Trinidad. Like I said, I am not  great at roti – for crying out loud I buy pre-made roti skins.but in a time when we are stuck at home, it was nice to be able to make roti for my family and put a satisfied belly smile on their faces. It tasted great and filled us up and there is a little more room in the freezer. No need to go to the drive through for fast food. No need to expose ourselves to COVID-19. No need to go against protocol and go outside. Comfort food in the form of a roti brought the comfort we all needed even if just for a little while. Look in your pantry and your freezer and see what you have that you can make with your family. Cooking through this time of isolation is a great daily distraction. It is cleaner and healthier and it is a nice time you can share with your family. Stay home, stay virus free and share your recipes as well. Inspire others to do the same – Daniella and Family

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