In Trinidad and Tobago, roti has many different meanings due to the fact that there are many different types of roti; sada roti, dhalpuri, paratha, dosti roti, and more. Roti also refers to the prepared meal of a wrapped roti. As the main staple of most roti shops, a wrapped roti is typically made by placing curried potato on top of a dhalpuri, adding other fillings like curried chicken or curried bodi, and then folding the dhalpuri so that it resembles a less elongated burrito.
Since the complete meal is often called a roti, local parlance has lead to the dhalpuri being referred to as a roti skin.
For example, the patron of a roti shop who asks for a chicken roti expects to receive a dhalpuri with curried chicken and curried potato. If that same patron wants an extra dhalpuri, they will most likely ask for a roti skin.
The Cutlass, a podcast and platform dedicated to the Indo-Caribbean community recently tweeted a statement;
Anybody who says “roti skins” needs to be cancelled. How dat does sound appetizing to allyuh?The Cutlass
The tweet sparked some debate and different views on the term “roti skin”. One user said that it’s a reference to the outer covering of a wrapped roti, while another said it implies that a plate of curry aloo and curry chicken is a skinless roti.
Roti skin, waiting for the cancellation………. It’s a reference to the outer covering to all the good stuff inside.nothing is wrong with itRedsean08Mahon
roti skin implies that a plate of curry aloo and curry chicken with slight pepper is a skinless roti.QDRoss
As different views were shared, The Cutlass expanded on the original tweet;
To clarify, my issue with “roti skin” has nothing to do with it being ‘broken’ (never said it was) and everything to do with redundancy (e.g. naan bread, chai tea). It also shows a confusion about how many types of roti there are and that roti exists as a stand-alone dish.The Cutlass
To which Food Business Consultant and Executive Chef Brigette Joseph responded;
Since the wrapped roti originated in Trinidad, I think we can call it what makes sense to us, in our local culture and parlance. “Skin” = the outermost layer of <insert item> So it’s not quite redundancy,it’s that we have our own context and meaning. Culturally. And that’s ok.chefbrigetterj
Author Shivanee N. Ramlochan weighed in;
The roti (skin) discourse that interests me is the legacy of shame attached to humble East Indian food, wrapped in warm cloths, brought from agrarian homes into the capital city to be mocked, eaten in secret, called ‘oily’, ‘low class’, ‘smelly’. That was only a generation ago.novelniche
For better or for worse, the term “roti skin” is now a part of local language, but its use instead of the word “dhalpuri” is seen by many as the long-term result of the lack of acceptance of Indo-Caribbean culture in the country.The roti skin debate demonstrates the need for more discussions on Caribbean culinary culture.