Roti aloopuri with tempeh
Roti with potato filling, sweet potato and string beans curry, aubergine curry, sweet marinated tempeh, for my father's birthday in Tilburg, 2022.
As I wrote earlier in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean cuisines are inspired by Hindus from the Indian subcontinent. Aloo refers to potato dishes in Indian cuisine. Roti aloopuri is then chapati flat bread filled with potato and cumin.
I had been eating and preparing Caribbean roti's for a while now together with Noemi, and I wanted to properly introduce my family to the food that had been co-opted by Dutch culture as a result of its colonial history. It was my father's birthday, and I figured I would prepare a nice feast for the four of us.
Our meal consisted of the following dishes:
- Roti aloopuri (flat bread filled with potato and jeera/cumin) (this woman has the best recipe)
- Sweet potato and kousenband curry
- Fried aubergine curry
- Sweet and fried tempeh
For the roti, use wheat flour, 50% water, 25% potatoes, 1.5% yeast (baker percentage). Mix flour, water, yeast, a few tablespoons of oil, 1% salt. Knead thoroughly until the dough is supple and smooth. It will go from too wet to too dry to crumbly, until finally it starts to become smooth. Let rest for an hour+, covered (don't want it to dry out) and away from drafts.
Boil potatoes until they are nice and soft. Let cool and mash really finely (or even better, grate really finely). Mix with cumin, salt, pepper.
To fill and fold the balls of dough, specifically see 6:32. It is very important not to overfill the dough with potato filling. When rolling them out later, we don't want the filling to squirt out through cracks. Dust a ball of bowl with flour, press it out slightly with the palm of your hand, and form a small crater in its middle with your thumbs. Spoon a bit of the potato filling in there. Now, fold its sides over the top and merge the dough shut again. Slightly press it out. To finish these off later, roll them out and fry them (ideally on a tava) on both sides with a bit of oil.
For the potato and kousenband curry I just combined the cooked vegetables in a pan, with some garlicky oil and masala / curry spices.
Aubergine should first be soaked in salty water for half an hour. Thoroughly pat it dry. Fry it in oil in batches. Finish in tomato paste sauce.
The tempeh is a true star. I had never really enjoyed tempeh, up until the moment I tasted some good, sweet, marinated tempeh from Roti King Aarti in Amsterdam. Truly amazing. I've been practicing to recreate its addictive crunch and taste ever since.
Cut tempeh in small strips and fry in lots of oil. This is really important, because the taste of slightly burned tempeh is not what we want, but nonetheless something that we would get with too little oil. Fry in batches again, no crowding of the pan, otherwise some pieces are just going to be steamed, leading them to become soggy. Now, finish off the fried tempeh altogether in a simmering sauce of ginger and ketjap manis (caramelized soy sauce).
Definitely serve this with a spicy madame jeanette chutney. Incredibly flavorful pepper. Blend them with some onion, vinegar, and sugar. Dolop on top. My mother was so enthused by its appealing bright yellow appetitiveness that she forgot she couldn't handle that much spice. Good times.