So I decided yesterday that I wanted Tacos. Tacos? In Fiji? Really? So I made the next best thing- roti stuffed with delicious things I found in town that morning. So here are the results!
First you have to make roti. For those of you who don’t know, roti is an Indian flatbread used for curry but is essentially a flour tortilla.
Making roti is fairly simple and a really great way to pass some time in the afternoon. I don’t really measure things but its approximately a 2:1 ratio of flour to hot water. Make sure the water is hot! Cold water will leave you with a weird lumpy and dry thing that does not look edible. Warm water results in a pliable dough that rolls out well and creates a delicious vector for your food! The great thing about roti is you can make 10, then use them for lunch and dinner, then breakfast lunch and dinner the next day! Its really difficult to keep them beyond 2 days as they tend to get moldy, or attacked by rats, ants, etc.
So to make roti.
- Put 2 cups normal flour in a bowl.
- Slowly add about 1 cup of warm/hot water mixing with a spoon until the dough seems damp, not overly wet, and holds together.
- When the mix cools down a bit (hot dough sticks to your hands and BURNS) knead it with your hands adding flour as necessary to create a solid ball of pliable and smooth dough that doesn’t crumble and doesn’t stick too much. It’s a fine balance.
- Let the dough rest about 10 minutes while you get your roti rolling pin and board. I won my roti pin and board in a contest we had during our pre service training here in Fiji for being the “Roti Queen” AKA making the best roti! I have long since fallen from that title and my good friend Alicia has taken over as the true roti queen :)
- Break the dough into small balls and roll them smooth.
- One at a time, roll them out on the floured surface. Try to make them as circular as possible!
- Heat up your skillet on medium high heat.
- Dab a bit of oil around the edges of the roti and place it on the griddle. When the bubbles come up, dab with a tiny bit of oil and flip until brown.
- Place on a plate, to ensure heat retention and softness, cover with a dishrag.
- Continue until all your roti are made!
So after I made my roti, I had to decide what to put inside. Beans are really expensive on Ovalau, so that option was out. I’m a vegetarian so meat was out. Its not tomato season, lettuce is as hard to find on this island as a 10 meter stretch of decent road, and cheese is $10 a block. So what on earth do you stuff fijified “Tacos” with?
The “Meat”: here in Fiji we have this stuff called Natrala which I guess is what TVP is back in the states. Its basically dehydrated soy chunks. So I place them in boiling water to rehydrate them, squeeze out the excess water and chop them up a bit. Mix that with diced garlic, onion, salt, cumin, and cayenne and it passes!
The Veggie Fillers: Cyclone Evan really did a number on our crops here on Ovalau so the presence of fresh veggies as of late has been disappointing to say the least. I found some not yet rotted carrots in town so I shredded one and added that with some purple long beans.
The “Cheese” Issue: Yeah I’m not spending 10 bucks on cheese that will mold and go bad in two days… but I DID find an avocado in town! They are big and pretty watery, not like the compact deliciousness of a California Avocado, but it does just fine. So I mashed up 1/4 of the avocado, added some salt and cayenne and called it good!
So that was it, my version of Fijian Tacos. They were absolutely delicious and well worth the time and preparation!