Tag Archives: Caribbean

Vendors selling produce at a booth in the Afro-Caribbean Farmers' Market in Toronto

An Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market is Helping Revitalize a Toronto Neighbourhood

Farmers’ markets have become a draw in cities across Canada, offering fresh, locally grown produce, baked goods and other artisan products, but the price points make them cost-prohibitive for those on a fixed income. Toronto’s newest market is changing its surrounding community for the better, breaking down barriers and making it a welcoming place for all.

The Afro-Caribbean Farmers Market is located in the Little Jamaica-Afro Caribbean Cultural District at Eglinton West and Oakwood. Anyone familiar with the area knows that it has been a sea of construction for close to a decade because of the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown light rail line. Shops were shuttering even before the pandemic, and it’s only gotten worse since.

We spoke with Lori Beazer, Market Manager for the Afro-Caribbean Farmers Market, about its origins and how it’s already making a difference by injecting life back into the neighbourhood and reminding the city that this important cultural hub is still open for business.

The Afro-Caribbean Farmers Market in the York-Eglinton West neighbourhood of Toronto, Canada

The market first ran as a pilot project in 2017 in a different area of the city, but it didn’t have a home until a chance encounter between Beazer and Toronto City Councillor, Josh Matlow. “I bumped into Councillor Matlow in 2020, introduced myself and pitched the market,” Beazer told us. “He loved it, so we started working on it.”

Related: Food Activist and Dietitian Rosie Mensah Looks at Nutrition Through a Social Justice Lens

Fast forward to the market’s July 2021 launch in partnership with Councillor Matlow and the York-Eglinton BIA, where it found a home in Reggae Lane and the adjacent parking lot on Eglinton West. “Here we are, a year later, and it’s been well-received. Its success shows what the area was craving for so long,” said Beazer.

Visitors to this unique market can shop for clean, culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables from the Caribbean and continental African countries along with clean produce grown by local urban farmers, baked goods, fresh juices, sauces and other artisan products. “We use the word clean instead of organic because this produce is clean of any pesticides, and is grown using diatomaceous earth,” Beazer explained. “The market features clean foods that are locally grown by people that look like them. And I think for them, that’s important.”

Vendors selling homemade condiments at the Afro-Caribbean Farmers' Market in Toronto, Canada

Until this point, many farmers’ markets across the city exude a sense of exclusivity and elitism, but this is where the Afro-Caribbean Farmer’s Market is breaking the mold. “In having conversations with many of our vendors, they’ve felt a sense of racism when shopping at or even vending at other farmers’ markets,” Beazer disclosed. “We have created a platform where they’re not only able to sell their products, they’re selling out.”

Related: The World’s Biggest Rooftop Farm is in Canada — and Growing Fast

They’ve even gone as far as providing a program for those facing food insecurity called Callaloo Cash, making this farmers’ market accessible to more people, especially those in the neighbourhood. From the earliest stages of planning, the program was always going to be an important facet of this market, according to Beazer.

“I understand this area and a good majority of our population of the African diaspora rarely go to farmers’ markets because they can’t afford it. But we have urban Black farmers who need a space to sell their wares. They’re not travelling a long distance and can get to the site using less mileage and expense, which lowers the cost of their produce. Having the Callaloo Cash subsidy program allows people from the community to walk out of the market with bags of food that they paid little or nothing for. They can go home with all of these wonderful things that they know are local and clean.”

Related: Allison Gibson Talks Launching Food Businesses and Reclaiming the Term “Ethnic Food”

Since the July launch, the market is quickly becoming a destination for people in the neighbourhood. “It has become important to the community,” Beazer shared. “They’re grateful to have something to do on a Sunday in this area. They can invite family to their homes and go to the market together for coconut water and sugar cane, or some jerk chicken with rice and peas.”

Vendors selling produce at a booth in the Afro-Caribbean Farmers' Market in Toronto

A market does so much more than provide food and a sense of community. Farmers’ Markets Ontario, the organization that represents over 180 markets across the province, has researched and proven that real estate values increase in neighbourhoods following the launch of a farmers’ market, something that Beazer has already witnessed in the area. “The community members, homeowners, and business owners have already seen the benefits of the farmers’ market being mentioned in their postal code. And that’s incredible.”

She continued, “The community wants the market here because they see the benefits. The stores see the benefits and open if they’re not typically open on a Sunday. The foot traffic has been close to a thousand people every Sunday since it started, many of who wouldn’t have normally visited Eglinton West. Our vendors sell out of their products, which has never happened to them at other farmers’ markets in the city. It’s a great place to be with a fantastic vibe.”

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

Despite support from Councillor Matlow and Ontario MPP Jill Andrew, the Toronto Parking Authority, which owns the lot where the market takes place, hasn’t been supportive according to Beazer. “Every farmers’ market has its challenges and we have ours. This market is dealing with some really ugly things because of this space that we’re in. The Toronto Parking Authority is not doing what they need to do for the space. They’re disrespecting the vendors by not keeping the lot clean for us.”

In fact, Beazer has taken on the site clean-up since the first day of the market and tearfully described the human waste that she faces each week when she arrives. “Every Sunday at 8AM, I head to the market site with anxiety because I don’t know what I’m going to find. Without fail, I have to clean it up myself before the vendors arrive.”

An assortment of freshly baked bread for sale at the Afro-Caribbean Farmers' Market in Toronto, Canada

Ideally, Beazer wants this market to happen annually, and as part of that, she would love to see this space returned to the community. She envisions it as a hub for art shows, yoga classes, movie nights, children’s activities and so much more beyond the farmers’ market. “This project was really supposed to help change the attitudes of people that live in the area that haven’t come to Eglinton West for 15 years because they were afraid. By bringing food and culture to this neighbourhood through the Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market, we can start to change that footprint.”

Related: Vegan West African Peanut Lentil Stew: The Comfort Food You Need

Beazer also believes that there is magic in this space, especially in the Reggae Lane mural created by artist Adrian Hayles. “When the sun comes out and hits the mural, it comes to life. The talk of the community is that the elders from the mural that have transitioned join us at the market.” She added, “Hayles is creating another mural on the opposite side. Should the market happen again next year, the whole space will be filled with beautiful art.”

The Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market runs every Sunday from 11AM to 3PM until October 3 in Reggae Lane and the Green P Carpark at 1531 Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto.

Curry shepherd's pie in serving platter

Classic Shepherd’s Pie Gets a Spicy West Indian Makeover

This Dining In dish combines two of our favourite comfort foods for the ultimate feel-good meal: a chicken curry shepherd’s pie inspired by the chicken paratha at Ali’s Roti in Toronto. Comforting and rich, this version has all the components of a classic shepherd’s pie, with a simple swap of lamb for chicken. We seasoned the chicken with spices traditionally found in a West Indian curry, tossed it with peas and carrots and topped it with a thick layer of the fluffiest potatoes before baking it in the oven.

Curry shepherd's pie in serving platter

Chicken Curry Shepherd’s Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp curry powder
1 ½ Tbsp garam masala
½ tsp roasted geera (cumin)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 wiri wiri or Scotch Bonnet pepper, chopped
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
2 lbs ground chicken
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 Tbsp tomato paste
¾ cup chicken stock
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter

Curry shepherd's pie ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a small bowl, whisk together curry powder, garam masala, geera and ⅓ cup water until smooth. Heat a deep skillet or medium pot to medium-high heat. Add the oil and once it begins to smoke, pour in the spice mix. Stir constantly until it becomes a deep brown colour, about 2 minutes. Add a splash of water if it begins to stick to the pan.

2. Stir in the onions until coated in the curry and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic, peppers and thyme, cook an additional 2 minutes.

Related: Caribbean Recipes That Will Liven Your Dinner Table

3. Add the chicken to pan and season with salt and pepper. Break up and stir the chicken until completely coated in the curry and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, mixing occasionally, until browned. Stir in the carrots, peas and tomato paste. Pour in chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

Ground meat cooking in pan

4. Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pot with 2 tsp of salt and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring the pot to a boil and cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the water and transfer the potatoes to a bowl.

5. Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the milk and butter. Once hot, add the potatoes and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Transfer the curry chicken to a 9×13-inch baking dish. Dollop potatoes on top and spread, adding divots and ridges for ultimate presentation. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are hot and peaks beginning to brown.

Curry shepherd's pie being prepared for the oven

Like Philip and Mystique’s chicken curry shepherd’s pie? Try their leftover fried chicken nachos or their caramelized onion risotto.

Watch the how-to video here:

 

This Smoked Herring and Green Plantains Appetizer is Haiti in One Bite

This vibrant appetizer — full of plenty flavourful ingredients — is “Haiti in one bite,” says Nahika Hillery.  “Smoked herring (aranso) and green plantains are staples in our cuisine. They’re versatile ingredients and found in many other popular Haitian dishes,” Nahika says. “Can’t find smoked herring? No problem. ‘Chiktay’ means to shred and you can shred any cooked fish or meat to use in this recipe (just skip the desalting) and still enjoy the bold Haitian flavours.”


Chiktay Aranso Stuffed Plantain Cups

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

4-6 smoked herring
½ cup olive oil
1 finely diced carrot
1 finely diced red onion
1 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 cup finely diced orange bell pepper
2 finely chopped Scotch bonnet chiles (including the seeds), plus 1 whole Scotch bonnet chile
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 whole cloves
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder or to taste
½ tsp adobo seasoning (optional based on saltiness of herring)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 sprig fresh thyme
Roughly chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp lime juice
3 cups frying oil
2 green plantains
Kosher salt
Finely diced tomato, finely diced avocado and sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Equipment:

Tostonera (plantain press), optional

chiktay stuffed plantain cups

Directions:

1. Remove the saltiness of the herring by placing it in a bowl of cold water and allowing it to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the water, then place the herring in a pot of water and boil for 10 to 15 minutes. The herring should taste no more than mildly salty; if it is still salty, boil for another 5 minutes and drain. Shred the herring with 2 forks, removing any large bones.

Tip: Salt is used to preserve smoked herring, so desalting is crucial to avoid an overly salty dish.

2. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet and set over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and red onions and cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Add the green pepper, red pepper, orange pepper and chopped Scotch bonnet chiles and cook, covered, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook an additional minute.

Related: Last-Minute Party Appetizers That Are Beyond Easy

3. Add the shredded herring. Puncture the whole Scotch bonnet chile with the 2 cloves and add it to the skillet. Add the chicken bouillon, adobo seasoning, garlic powder, thyme, some parsley and lime juice. Mix everything well. Cover and let cook down for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Discard the whole Scotch bonnet and thyme sprig.

4. Pour the frying oil into a large skillet and set over medium-high heat. Peel the plantains and cut each into 4 to 5 pieces. Fry the pieces until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and press each piece of plantain flat; you can use a plantain press or the bottom of a small heavy pan or a plate. Mold the plantains into cup shapes (you can use a lemon squeezer or a tostonera with a rounded shape). Carefully fry the plantain cups again for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the cups on a paper towel-lined plate or on a wire rack and sprinkle lightly with salt (optional).

Related: Top Pescatarian Dinner Ideas That Make Seafood the Star

Tip: Green plantains, not ripe ones, are best to use to create sturdy cups.

5. Fill the fried plantain cups with the smoked herring mixture. Garnish with diced tomato, avocado and sour cream if using and enjoy!

Like this recipe? Try this Guyanese roti or Peruvian cebiche.

Want Layers of Flavour? This Flaky, Crunchy Guyanese Roti is a Meal-Time Must-Try

It’s a truth (nearly) universally acknowledged that bread on the table makes a meal more delicious, but this mouth-watering spin on a global staple is sure to elevate your table — whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. While North Americans generally think of roti as an Indian food, the traditional flatbread is also a Caribbean staple. In this Guyanese-style twist on roti from Tavel Bristol-Joseph and Kevin Fink, Sonora flour (a nutrient-rich milled grain) adds tons of texture and bite to each crunchy, flaky morsel.

“Roti is an Indian flatbread that’s enjoyed around the world,” says Tavel. “In places, including the Caribbean, it’s traditionally eaten with curry or other types of stew. In this recipe, I make it with a combination of all-purpose flour and Sonora flour, a flour made from one of North America’s oldest wheat varieties.”

Related: Caribbean Recipes That Will Liven Your Dinner Table

Sonora Flour Roti

Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 5 roti

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups white Sonora flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup plus 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for oiling and frying
¼ cup melted unsalted butter

Related: Can’t Find Yeast? You’ll Love These Yeast-Free Bread Recipes

Directions:
1. Mix the all-purpose flour, Sonora flour, baking powder and salt by hand in a large bowl.

2. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil and 1 1/2 cups water. Mix together until fully incorporated and you can form a dough ball. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces, each weighing about 120 grams. Form each piece into a ball. Lightly oil a rolling pin and a work surface. Roll each ball out into a circle about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Combine the melted butter and the remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small bowl. Brush the rounds with the mixture.

4. One at a time, make a cut from the centre of a round out. Roll the round up like a cone. Take the tip of the cone and push down towards centre. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes or up to 12 hours.

5. Place a piece of dough on a lightly oiled cutting board and press down on it with your palm until it’s an even circle 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Heat a 9- or 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom. When the skillet is very hot but not smoking, add a roti. Cook until the bottom is golden brown and air pockets start to form, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side. After each roti is cooked, place it in a bowl, cover with a lid and shake the bowl up and down. This creates texture in the roti. Repeat with the remaining roti, adding more oil to the skillet as necessary. Serve hot.

Cook’s Note: It’s important to shake the roti in an up-and-down motion while the roti is hot.

Want to try more takes on flatbread? This vegan za’atar manaeesh is full of flavour.

Curry shrimp and rice in white bowl on top of green tea towl

This Easy Jamaican Curry Shrimp Recipe Takes Just 35 Minutes!

Jamaican curry shrimp is a fast and delicious way to spice up your lunch or dinner routine. The bright flavours of Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme and colourful bell peppers can make even the coldest winter days feel a bit less gloomy. This recipe includes some unexpected additions like lime juice and ketchup that add a delicious tang to the curry shrimp. Ketchup is often used in Caribbean kitchens and is perfect when you need a bit of tang and sweetness or if you’ve run out of tomatoes like me. Serve this up with a bowl of rice or fresh paratha and enjoy.

Curry shrimp and rice in white bowl on top of green tea towl

Jamaican Curry Shrimp

Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 to 40 minutes

Ingredients:

500 grams shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2 bell peppers (green and red)
½ onion
1 Tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves garlic
2 sprigs green onion
1 Scotch bonnet pepper
3 ½ Tbsp Jamaican curry powder, divided
3 sprigs thyme
½ cup coconut milk
½ vegetable bouillon cube (optional))
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 lime
Salt to taste
1 tsp cornstarch (optional)

Curry shrimp ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Place cleaned, deveined and peeled shrimp in a bowl.

2. Cut the bell pepper and onion into thin slices and set aside. Then grate the ginger, mince the garlic and finely chop the green onions and Scotch bonnet pepper.

Curry shrimp ingredients on kitchen countertop

3. Season the shrimp with 2 Tbsp of Jamaican curry powder and half of the ginger, garlic and green onions. Feel free to add some of your favourite spice blends as well (I have a Caribbean all-purpose seasoning mix that I sometimes use or even some Cajun spice mix — it’s not traditional, but adds a nice flavour).

Raw curry shrimp in glass bowl

4. In a hot pan, sautee the onions then add the remaining Jamaican curry powder with a bit of oil so that it does not stick or burn. Cook the curry for just a few minutes. Then add the remaining garlic and ginger, along with the thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper — stir well.

5. Next add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer, add water as necessary then add the vegetable bouillon and ketchup and stir.

Related: Slow Cooker Curry Recipes That Deliver All the Comfort

6. Finally add the shrimp and a squeeze of lime (taste and adjust salt and lime as needed). The shrimp should cook pretty fast so be sure to keep an eye on your curry and remove pan from the heat as soon as the shrimp is cooked to prevent it from overcooking. If you’d like a thicker curry gravy, mix a tsp of cornstarch with water and pour into curry before it’s finished cooking to thicken up your curry shrimp.

7. Serve with a lime wedge and rice or paratha and enjoy!

Like Eden’s Jamaican curry shrimp? Try her vegan jerky or her quick and tasty guava tarts.

These Vegan Sloppy Joe Sliders Are Your Answer to Healthy Entertaining

This unconventional take on the sloppy Joe is inspired by the popular chickpea-filled Trinidadian street food, doubles. Like sloppy Joes, doubles are a deliciously messy, sweet and savoury snack. They’re typically made of channa (a curried chickpea filling) sandwiched between two pieces of fried dough with tamarind sauce, chutneys and pepper sauce.

For this Can You Vegan It? sloppy Joe recipe, the fried dough is replaced with mini sesame-seed buns. The savoury curried chickpea filling is topped with a spicy and crunchy cucumber chutney, as well as a tangy pineapple jam rather than tamarind sauce. It’s an unlikely combination, but if you enjoy sweet, savoury and spicy flavours, this recipe is calling your name. It’s perfect for pleasing picky kids or entertaining guests. Plus they’re veg-friendly for everyone to enjoy!

Vegan Sloppy Joe Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 70 minutes
Servings: 12 sliders

Ingredients:

Channa (Chickpea Filling)
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
3 stalks green onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp turmeric
2 Tbsp geera (ground roasted cumin)
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 can drained chickpeas (28 oz)
4 tsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 scotch bonnet pepper
Salt, to taste

Spicy Cucumber Chutney
½ large field cucumber
⅓ scotch bonnet pepper
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

Additional
Pineapple jam or guava jam (you can find this in the Caribbean section of the grocery store or at a Caribbean grocery store)
12 sesame buns (or any type of slider buns you prefer)

Directions:

1. Finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and green onion. Add a few spoons of oil to a large pot at medium heat. Then saute the onion, garlic and green onion.

2. Once the onions become translucent, add the turmeric, geera and curry powder and stir — add a bit of water if necessary to keep the ingredients from sticking to the pot.

3. Add the drained chickpeas and chopped cilantro and stir. Then pour enough water to cover the chickpeas and add in the scotch bonnet pepper (do not cut the pepper). Let the ingredients simmer on medium heat until soft, adding more water when necessary to keep the mixture from burning or sticking to the pan.

4. Once the chickpeas have softened and the mixture has a thick consistency, take it off the heat and let cool.

Related: Our Most Popular Vegan Recipes Ever

5. Use a grater to shred half the field cucumber and place in a bowl.

6. Finely chop the ⅓ scotch bonnet pepper, removing most of the seeds (this pepper is incredibly spicy, so be careful when handling) before adding to the bowl of grated cucumber.

7. Add the lime juice and chopped cilantro to the bowl. Mix the ingredients together and place in a mason jar.

8. Lightly toast the sesame buns and spread a generous portion of pineapple jam to the bottom of the bun, then add a few spoonfuls of the chickpea channa mix, top with a bit of the spicy cucumber chutney — and enjoy!

Like Eden’s vegan sloppy Joes? Try her sweet potato blondies or cardamom teff apple muffins.

Published June 11, 2018, Updated December 13, 2020

Roti

The Tasty History of Roti in Canada

Here’s some good news for Canadians from coast to coast: you don’t have to travel 11,000 kilometres across the ocean to get your roti fix. “Everywhere we go [in Canada], there is a roti shop to be found,” say Marida and Narida Mohammed, co-owners of Twice De Spice. Born in Trinidad, sisters Marida and Narida Mohammed grew up eating this delicacy on a daily basis, calling it the “equivalent of what sliced bread is to Canadians.” But with a gazillion and one ways to make and eat this warm, chewy flatbread, what exactly is “roti?”

Mona's Roti in Toronto

“In the [Indian] subcontinent, ‘roti’ is a generic word for bread and is often a synonym for chapatti,” says Richard Fung. “In Trinidad, [the word] is used generically also: Indo-Trinidadians eat sada roti, alu puri and paratha, also known as ‘busupshut.’ Dal puri [generally refers to] what Canadians call ‘West Indian or Caribbean roti.’”

Fung should know: he grew up eating roti in Trinidad and produced Dal Puri Diaspora, a documentary exploring the roots of roti in Trinidad, India and Toronto. Eating his way across the “roti trail,” Fung’s film showcases just how diverse the dish can be.

Related: Want Layers of Flavour? This Flaky, Crunchy Guyanese Roti is a Meal-Time Must-Try

Many food historians believe that this ancient flatbread originates from the Indian subcontinent, where even today, no meal is complete without a side of roti. “In India, puris are deep fried — so what we call dal puris in the diaspora might perhaps more correctly be a dal paratha,” says Richard. “The cooking method and the ingredients (white flour, split peas) are the results of conditions on the plantations.”

The dish began to reach all corners of the earth in the 19th-century, when indentured workers from India introduced the recipe to southern Caribbean colonies of Britain and the Netherlands. Over the decades, the dish gradually garnered its own Caribbean flare.

“Caribbean roti is a large flatbread made with white all-purpose flour and stuffed with ground, seasoned split peas and cooked on a griddle,” says Richard. “In its commercial form, it’s wrapped in a style similar to a burrito around curried meat or vegetables.”

Cooking roti

Much like the origins of roti, the roots of roti in Canada are a bit fuzzy. With waves of immigration in the 1960s, the wrapped roti from Trinidad arrived in North America, where it was popularized in big cities like Toronto and New York and became known as “Caribbean” or “West Indian” roti. “A lot of people migrated [to Canada] from [Caribbean] islands and Guyana,” says  Marida and Narida. “Coming to Canada and the US, they brought their culture here to North America. As it travels, it changes and the spice levels.”

According to Richard, Ram’s Roti Shop was the first roti eatery in Toronto, opening in the 1960s (now closed) and serving Indian-style roti. Today, roti restaurants are scattered across the Greater Toronto Area and there are plenty of choices for hungry hordes eager to sink their teeth into this satisfying dish. “Toronto has a huge West Indian population,” say Marida and Narida. “In the Caribbean-populated areas like Scarborough, West Etobicoke, Brampton and Mississauga, you’re going to find a roti shop tucked in somewhere.”

While Marida and Narida name Ali’s Roti and Drupati’s as being among their favourites in Toronto, you can also mosey over to Mona’s Roti — a Scarborough eatery visited by Great Canadian Cookbook host Noah Cappe and that’s famed for serving mouth-watering roti. Here, the bread is stuffed with a slew of delicious fillings, such as tasty curries (chickpeas and potato, chicken, goat and shrimp), stews (beef and king fish) or veggies. The chicken curry is a bestseller!

Mona's Roti in Toronto

Of course, Toronto isn’t the only place to enjoy this delicious dish. As Marida and Narida say, no matter where you go in Canada, you’re bound to find “a roti shop tucked away somewhere.” Snag a spot at Calabash Bistro in Vancouver, where you can indulge in six types of Caribbean-style roti. A must try is the goat curry wrapped in a fresh busup roti served with organic mixed greens.

Plus, it’s impossible to tire of eating this favourite dish. There is no shortage of chefs across Canada who are making endless and ever-evolving variations on roti. As Richard points out, some Toronto chefs are adding new flavours and ingredients not found overseas. “Immigrants directly from the subcontinent began marketing rotis with fillings typical of North Indian cuisine, such as saag panir or butter chicken,” says Fung. “Places like Mother India Roti and Gandhi sell hybrid rotis that one wouldn’t find in India or the Caribbean, but are very much a result of an encounter in Toronto.”

Marida and Narida are kickstarting “dessert roti,” which they predict will be “the next big thing.” “You can never go wrong with Nutella and bananas with whipped cream on any kind of warm bread,” they say. “Sweet rotis — that’s a trend that we’d like to put out there!”

Photos courtesy of Great Canadian Cookbook/Moni’s Roti

Canada’s Multicultural Food City Is…

With its soaring mountains and beautiful ocean views, Vancouver boasts an enviable landscape, but for You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci, big mountains are a small part of Vancouver’s appeal.

“Sure, Vancouver’s a beautiful city, but you can’t eat scenery!” he says. “Lucky for me, it’s also one of the country’s most exciting food cities. Vancouverites can enjoy food from all over the world without having to leave the Lower Mainland. When you’re this good looking, the whole world comes to you.”

Here, in no particular order, are some of the Vancouver eateries that inspired him to name Vancouver his favourite Canadian city for multicultural dining.

IMG_3459---Calabash_Jerk-Poutine

Calabash Bistro (Caribbean)
Fusion treats like the calabash poutine — jerk-dusted fries topped with melted Brie and jerk chicken — are washed down with delicious rum drinks at this laid-back Caribbean bistro. Visit late at night to enjoy your Caribbean meal with a side of live entertainment; Calabash hosts live reggae, hip hop, funk and poetry five nights a week.

IMG_1014---The-Reef---Island-Thyme-Chicken-SIG

The Reef (Caribbean)
Trini Roti, Domenica Beef, and Maracas Bay Mahi showcase the Caribbean’s diversity of flavours. Can’t get to The Reef? We’ve got their recipe for Island Thyme Chicken boasting juicy bone-in chicken breasts marinated in coconut milk.

Lemongrass-Chicken-Banh-Mi-2

DD Mau (Vietnamese)
Bahn Mi, or Vietnamese sandwiches, are the specialty at downtown Vancouver’s DD Mau. Favourites include the BBQ Roasted Duck, Crispy Roasted Pork and Lemongrass Tofu, washed down with an avocado smoothie. For a taste of DD Mau at home, try their recipe for Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi.

Enchiladas-Classicas---IMG_5799

La Mezcaleria (Mexican)
This stylish spot on Commercial Drive is beloved for its organic brunches and fresh margaritas. Serving inventive creations like BBQ Tamarind Squid and Barbacoa de Cordero (lamb shoulder roasted in banana leaves and served in volcanic rock) alongside favourites like Enchiladas Classicas and Queso Fundido, La Mezcaleria has something for everyone. Try their recipe for Enchiladas Classicas at home!

Nuba---Halloumi---IMG_6371

Nuba (Lebanese)
With several downtown locations, it’s easy to find a Nuba to satisfy your cravings for Lebanese treats. Favourites include standards like Chicken Tawook, Falafel and Hummus, as well as Grilled Halloumi Cheese served with fresh tomato, nuts and pomegranate mint dressing and Lamb Hushwie (sautéed minced lamb with onions and pine nuts, served on a creamy base of fresh hummus).

Campagnolo-Roma---Bucatini-all-Amatriciana---IMG_5451

Campagnolo Roma (Italian)
Simple, unfussy Italian is on the menu at Campagnolo, a busy East Hastings establishment serving comforting classics like Bucatini all Amatriciana (bucatini noodles with cured pork, tomato and Parmesan cheese), as well as fresh pizzas and house-made meatballs.

IMG_6504---Rangoli_Spicy-Pulled-Pork

Vij’s Rangoli (Indian)
Vancouver has many Indian restaurants, but Vikram Vij’s namesake spot, which features a fusion of classic Indian spices and local delicacies, is one of the most celebrated. Some favourites from You Gotta Eat Here!’s visit include Spicy Pulled Pork on Sautéed Greens with Sour Cream Chutney and Naan, and Split Pea, Lentil and Spinach Mash with Mogo Fries and Bengali Curry. For visitors on the go, Vij’s has an extensive menu of boil-in-the-bag takeout treats.

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Longtail Kitchen (Thai)
Fresh B.C. seafood meets classic Thai flavours in this New Westminster restaurant that serves modern versions of Thai street eats. Enjoy the variety of Thai curries, the classic Pad Thai with Prawns, or try the Som Dtam Green Papaya Salad at home.

Catch all new episodes of You Gotta Eat Here! Fridays at 9 E/P. Be sure to visit the location map to plan your next  multicultural dining experience.