I can ascertain that persons who are ‘trinicentric’ and die hard fanatics of ‘trinibagonian’ culture can attest that they have experienced this thing called ‘curry favor for curry flavour’ at some point in their life (if not everyday). So I now share with you some history of our “curry culture” and this discourse on “curry favor” for curry flavour.
Curry has been a household spice used throughout Trinidad and Tobago for as long as I can remember (that’s almost three decades ugh I’m getting old ugh -_- so not enthused). The East Indian immigration via the Fatel Razack ship brought new ways of life to Trinidad such as cooking techniques, produce and recipes. When the immigrants arrived on May 30th 1845 there were many other ethnic groups on the island at that time and so fusion foods became inevitable. Many of their traditional Indian dishes were altered. The cuisine became part of the culture of Trinidad and Tobago. After indentureship many Indians sought to open shops and sell their culinary bounty of delicacies. Soon a fondness and demand for this type of food developed which were quickly matched with accessibility and affordability for this cuisine by all social classes that existed in the then society.
Today, there is still a strong demand for ‘Indo Trini’ cuisine as roti shops are almost never scarce on the island neither is there a shortage of customers. These shop owners have even gone the extra mile to do additional marketing and branding for their product. This is a sustainable business after all. Hosein’s Roti Shop is one example of such an owner. They have done radio, television and print advertising. They also own their own space on the internet. Their packaging is also branded for customer take away orders. Their shop is patronized everyday by almost everyone and on special occasions like this Divali 2015. This year they received such an overwhelming crowd of customers overflowing from their restaurant capacity.
Admittedly, I am not really a curry fanatic ( yeah my palate is kind of ‘unique’ ). Although, I must say every time their curried shrimp promo catches my undivided attention. Hosein’s Roti Shops are located in Tunapuna, Arima, San Juan and Port of Spain. It was pure luck that I was passing by their Tunapuna branch a few months ago when I saw their shop. I knew I had to return to relish in “the truth” behind this cuisine. It is worth mentioning that the shop was clean, the service was attentive and there was sufficient parking.
On stumbling into the shop (literally since my feet were tired in my wedge heels). There were dhal, rice and other vegetables but those were not on my agenda. They were out of curried shrimp (you can imagine my facial expression of dismay). That evening I inquired whether they would be doing more shrimp or not. I believe that’s when I realized I had “curry favor” for curry flavour. I expected that my curry favor for curry food would appease the “food gods”. It was the mere thought that my purchase for this type of food would bring me the blessings of bountiful and beautiful food adventures in the near future (albeit I am not supposed to neglect my diet). Moreover, the visuals from the television advertisement were indeed too challenging to let go from the bran positioned in my mind. The owner offered to cook some more shrimp just for me if I would wait. I think the “food gods” smiled in that moment and of course I waited in anticipation for my order to be filled.
My orders of one dozen of phoulouries with mango sauce and three portions of curried shrimp were filled very soon. Nonetheless, I was quite content with my pursuit for happiness (however short lived it may have been). They were phenomenal in taste and texture. My food adventures take me to so many undiscovered places, people and cuisines that I guarantee you they have all been worth it (whether the experiences were good or bad I would have either learned or shared a thing or two with them ).
I am not the only one who can attest to “curry favor for curry flavour”. Foreigners, international celebrities and socialites who visit Trinidad and Tobago curse any missed opportunity to taste local cuisine. Those who have shared in curry delights have become immediate ‘aficionados/as’ of the cuisine. Recently, Mandy Moore international celebrity actress, singer and humanitarian visited Trinidad for some much anticipated human rights work. She enjoyed it so much that she shared the photo of her first taste of a curry dish from Shiann’s Roti Shop via social media. Mandy had her roti with slight pepper. She was also quoted saying, “I’m hooked.”
(Photo Credit : PSI Caribbean)
Just two weeks ago Divali celebrations were in full swing and can you guess what was on the most coveted menu in almost every household and if not every then maybe your neighbour’s house?! This destination definitely has ‘curry favor for curry flavour.’
There are many more contributions that make this destination exotic and most tempting for the international as well as domestic tourists. The ability to indulge in this local Indo Trinidadian cuisine is definitely one of them and a gift to the people of Trinidad and Tobago worth celebrating everyday!
See here is the local tribute:
Click the link to see Nebula 868 (local group) and their ode to curry
in their Justin Bieber’s “Sorry- Parody”