I I love everything about street food. I love moving like part of a crowd, getting carried away by smells and sizzles. I love eating with my hands and portions that are small enough to leave room to try something else, another smell and another sizzle, later on. I love trying new things, traveling the world through my palate. I love the vendors, the energy, the chats with the other diners. While silence weighs heavily on our street food scene today, set up a booth at home: I’m going to Mauritius (again) and Brazil this week, Ghana and Venezuela next.
Jackfruit kati roll (pictured above)
Jackfruit grows wild throughout Mauritius and is freely gifted to neighbors, friends and family. Fortunately, canned jackfruit works very well in this dish, but you can use canned chickpeas if needed.
Homework 15 minutes
Cook 40 min
It serves 4
For the roti
330 g all-purpose flour, plus an extra 25g for dusting
1½ teaspoon carambola seeds (AKA ajwain), or anise
45 g butter, melted, plus an extra 50g for brushing
200 ml of boiling water
For the jackfruit curry
150 ml clarified butter
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced (200 g net weight)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
10 g fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium green chilies, thinly sliced (marrow and seeds are discarded if you prefer less spicy)
10 fresh curry leaves
60 g fresh coriander, leaves collected, stems cut into pieces
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons mild curry powder
200 g cherry tomatoes
2 x 400g jackfruit in salted water, drained (450 g net weight)
1 lemon – finely grated zest, to obtain 1 teaspoon, and squeezed, to obtain 1 tablespoon; save the rest for another use
300 ml of boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
250g unsweetened coconut yogurt, or plain plain yogurt
Put the flour, carom seeds and a teaspoon and a quarter of the salt in a medium bowl and mix well. Make a hole in the middle, add the ghee and water, and mix with a wooden spoon to form a dough. The mixture will be hot at this stage, but it will handle well, so tilt it on a lightly floured work surface and knead for a minute, until the dough forms a smooth ball. Return to the bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, start with the curry. Place a large saute pan for the one you have a lid on over medium heat, add the ghee, and melt. Add the chopped onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, curry leaves and coriander stalks and fry, stirring frequently, for 12-14 minutes, until the onions are tender. Add the cumin seeds and curry powder, cook, stirring, for another two minutes, then add the tomatoes, jackfruit, lemon zest and juice, boiling water, and a teaspoon of salt. Cover with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed, and the jackfruit is tender and has mostly broken into threads (don’t worry if the piece is still whole).
While the jackfruit is cooking, divide the roti dough into four and use your floured hands to roll each approximately 140g piece into a ball. Sprinkle a work surface very well with a little extra flour, then using a floured rolling pin, roll out each ball of dough into a 24cm circle, pressing the pin into the middle of the dough and pushing out while rolling it into a circle . It is essential to have a well floured surface to prevent the dough from sticking and to make it easier to roll.
Put a large frying pan (or roti) over high heat. Once the skillet is very hot, remove the excess flour from a roti and place it in the pan. Generously brush the top of the roti with melted ghee, let it cook for two minutes, until bubbles form and the bottom is golden in patches, then flip, brush the cooked side with more ghee and cook for another minute. Remove the cooked roti and set aside in a warm place, wipe the pan with kitchen paper, then repeat with the remaining roti and ghee.
To assemble the kati rolls, spread some yogurt on a roti, then pour a quarter of the curry mixture on top. Sprinkle on a few coriander leaves and then roll the roti tightly, like a burrito. Serve hot with any remaining yogurt on the side for dipping.
Prawn and cream cheese empanadas
This (very untraditional) version of a classic Brazilian bar snack combines prawns and cream cheese within a deep fried batter. I have used store bought puff pastry for ease, Philadelphia for accessibility (the most used brand in Brazil is Catupiry, which you can buy online) and we bake the empanadas, especially so you can make more at the same time. In Brazil, these are called pasteis, but I have called them empanadas as a nod that they are a similar concept.
Homework 15 minutes
Cook 50 min
1 sheet of 320g butter puff pastry ready to use, cooled
Flour, to sprinkle
1 egg, defeated
Hot sauce, to serve
2 lemons, Cut into pieces to serve
150g of precooked and peeled prawns, chopped into ½ cm pieces
1 green chilli, finely chopped (discard the marrow and seeds if you prefer less heat)
2 chives, trimmed and finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
125 g cherry tomatoes, finely chopped, then squeezed to remove excess liquid
100 g of Philadelphia cream cheese (or Brazilian Catupiry, if you can get it)
Heat oven to 220 ° C (200 ° C fan) / 425 ° F / gas 7. Mix the first six filling ingredients in a bowl with 1/3 teaspoon salt, then add the Philadelphia but do not mix thoroughly : you want chunks of cheese spread throughout the mixture, rather than a homogeneous mass.
Lay the puff pastry sheet on a floured surface and roll it a couple of rolls with a rolling pin to thin out a bit more. Using a 10cm round cutter, cut out as many pastry circles as you can (you should get about seven) and place on a large baking sheet. Gather up the leftovers, re-roll, and slice again, for three more dough circles, and 10 total. Also place them on the tray.
Place about 30g of the prawn and cheese filling in the center of each dough circle, brush the exposed dough with beaten egg and fold the dough to form half moons. Press the edges of the dough with the back of a fork to seal, then place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing well apart. Cut a couple of small slits in each patty for steam to escape, brush patties with beaten egg, then bake for 25 minutes; turn the tray halfway once, so they color evenly.
Serve the empanadas hot from the oven with lemon wedges and your favorite hot sauce on the side.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism