Dhal Puri And Curried Potatoes – Caribbean Style
We enjoy good food so long as it is vegetarian. While we have always tried to go beyond the boundaries of the food we have grown up with, food blogging has really opened up a whole new world of food and cuisine. The past year has been an adventure involving trying out new recipes or re-inventing familiar ones, though not always with success I must add.
Cynthia's Taste Like Home, a blog I read regularly, has been my window to Caribbean cuisine. Caribbean cooking is true "fusion" cuisine with a lovely mix of French, Spanish, Dutch, Indian and African flavours. Due to this, I find it very easy to identify with a lot of the vegetables and fruits she uses in her cooking. What is more interesting to me, is that many dishes which seem familiar to me as an Indian, have taken on a new identity with very different flavours.
When I first saw Cynthia's Dhal puri post, I thought of deep-fried unleavened dough (which is what Indian puris are) stuffed with lentils (dhal). In fact, in my traditional Palakkad cooking, we make a stuffed roti with a jaggery-sweetened lentil filling. On reading her post, it turned out that this popular Caribbean street food was more like seasoned lentil stuffed parathas (which are stuffed north Indian flatbreads).
I bookmarked the post with plans to try that out but somehow never got around to it! This is the story with my long list of bookmarked recipes which seems to be growing like Jack's Beanstalk (but no ogres here)!!
So I first did some reading up on the dhal puri. The one thing that struck me was that dhal puri differed slightly in how it was made and eaten in different parts of the Caribbean, which is a group of many different islands. Rather than my discussing the varieties and differences to a roti in the Caribbean (because I'm sure to get it wrong), I would definitely suggest a visit to Musings On Roti at Lifespan Of A Chenette.
Then I wrote to Cynthia asking for her recipes, and she very graciously sent me her recipes for Dhal puri and Curried Potatoes. I knew it wouldn't be difficult to make them as I am used to making stuffed parathas and the technique for filling both parathas and dhal puri were the same.
I was expecting a recipe similar to one for parathas, but I was surprised to see a few differences as far as the ingredients for the dough and filling were concerned. The method of mixing, kneading and preparing the dough, on the other hand, reminded me of the way the cooks make dough for "porottas" in roadside food stalls in Cochin!
Similarly, while all the ingredients for the Curried Potatoes are what I routinely use in my cooking, I found Cynthia's combination quite different. According to Cynthia, dhal puri is usually served a dab of achar (typical Indian style pickles) or sour ( a tamarind, mango and bilimbi chutney)
I read somewhere (couldn't find the link) that dhal puri is also served with curried potatoes, chana or curried chicken. We had a satisfying dinner of dhal puri with curried potatoes, my version of sour (which was a store bought sweet and sour mango chutney) and some plain home-made yogurt.
As Cynthia has just had her "My Caribbean Cookbook" published, she has requested that her recipes not be posted for reasons I'm sure everyone will appreciate. So you will only find my pictures of both the preparations at this post.