One of the most beautiful aspects about living in New York is that before leaving on a trip to a foreign country, no matter how remote or exotic, I can find the food of that place being prepared in much the same way as I would find it in that country. Before heading to Trinidad and Guyana and having minimal knowledge of the food from either of those countries, I did a google search for Trinidadian or Guyanese Roti shops. Surprisingly, a half dozen popped up within a few miles of my apartment in Brooklyn. Ali’s T&T was the closest, and from what I could tell, one of the most recommended. Roti is a rather strange concept to many when thinking of the food of a Caribbean Island or South American country.
Roti (and counter part chapati) is an integral part of Indian and Pakistani cuisine. The unleavened bread made from stone-ground whole meal flower. In the West Indies there are a variety of roti preparations and accompaniments. At Ali’s T&T (the T&T stands for Trinidad and Tobago) they serve Roti stuffed with chicken curry, beef, goat, liver, shrimp, conch, potato & channa, kingfish stew, or oxtail stew. Unless you ask it comes mixed with curried potatoes.
My chicken curry roti was the size of a Chipotle burrito with a strong taste of tumeric and cumin. Chicken was left on the bone (don’t just take a bite of the entire roti before looking inside). I missed out on the Tamarind sauce, but I don’t think it was necessary. A doubles, a sort of fry bread sandwich with a spicy chickpea concoction and really inexpensive, was my dessert, along with a glass of Sorrel, a type of hibiscus flavored juice that is one of T&T’s many unusual drinks, most of which sound like neighborhood rappers (Busta, T. Dad OJ, P-Nut Punch) was like an exceptionally sweet prune juice.
Misses: Aloo pie (a potato filled pastry), Phoolori (fried dough balls with tamarind sauce), and the pumpkin filling.
Ali’s T & T Roti
1267 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11216
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.