West-Indian Chickpea Roti (Vegan)

If you are not familiar with this meal, get ready for your taste buds to sing... small disclaimer: WE LOVE ROTI! It is a rich, hearty meal that you can either go out to any Caribbean or West-indian restaurant to grab, or if you have the time, make it at home: the recipe is below! 

What Is Roti

Roti is a very common meal in the West Indies and predominantly eaten by the people in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname. West Indian style roti is primarily made from wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and water, and cooked on a tawa, a pan that looks like a skillet. Certain rotis are also made with butter, so if you are eating out and want to keep it plant-based, ask your server.

Roti Recipe

To make roti at home, here are the ingredients: 

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water (apprx.)

Cooking The Roti

Simply combine all the dry ingredients above in a large bowl then slowly add the water and oil, mixing and kneading as you go. You want to make sure the dough is not so wet that it sticks to your fingers, but should hold together when pressed into a ball. Form the dough into a ball and let stand for about 15 minutes.

The fun part about roti is then what you decide to put in it! (Keep reading... we will tell you!)

Inside The Roti

The inside that is wrapped in the roti can vary in many ways. We'd like to share with you a simple amazing recipe that consists of chickpeas, and sweet potato and pumpkin called Channa-aloo roti. It's a Caribbean version. 

Eating out: Alert for Vegans: Be sure to confirm this is suitable for you as butter is sometimes added to recipe variations throughout the Caribbean.

Channa-Aloo Roti Recipe

Here is our recommendation for Channa-aloo roti: (inspired from the Invincible Muffin's Secret Underground Vegetarian Recipe Bunker)

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander or cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups diced winter squash, such as butternut or pumpkin, or 2 cups of squash and vary it with 2 cups of regular potatoes or sweet potatoes.
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • oil for frying

Cooking The Channa-Aloo

Heat oil in a skillet and sauté onion, garlic, and jalapeño for 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Add the seasonings and cook for 1 minute more. Add the potato/squash and water and cook for about 15 minutes until tender. Add the chickpeas and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until filling is chunky and thick. Set the filling aside.

This delicious filling mixture can be served wrapped in a roti, served over rice or quinoa, or even eaten by itself. The chickpeas give you plant protein. If you combine it with quinoa in lieu of bread, it becomes a delicious gluten-free meal.

Roti: Divide the dough into 4 to 6 equal-sized balls. Flatten each ball and roll out into thin, 8-inch squares. Fill the middle of each square with about a 1/2-cup of filling. Wrap the dough around the mixture, burrito style and seal the filling inside 

Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat until the oil is hot. Reduce the heat to medium and carefully place roti packet into the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Turn with a spatula and cook the other side the same way. I'll even go so far as to hold to roti on its sides to cook the edges completely. Repeat process with the remaining rotis. Of note: some styles of Channa-aloo roti do not seal the roti; they just pan fry the dough on its own like a tortilla and then add the filling after... folding it up so it doesn't drip... a different style, but both equally as yummy!