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Roti is originally a Hindi word and is the general name for all forms of bread in large parts of India, Pakistan, all of Indonesia and all of Malaysia. More specifically, this only refers to the unleavened flat Indian breads such as the Indian naan, alu paratha and chapati.

In Thailand, roti usually only refers to the pancake-like breads, but often also to the risen breads (depending on who one speaks to) while kanom paang (“kanom” means pasta and “paang” is derived from the French word “pain”) only refers to on risen bread. These types of flat breads date back to the Neolithic Age. In the case of what is now northern India and southern Pakistan, this period began around 7000 BC.

The Indian variants of roti are enjoying increasing popularity in all countries where groups of Indian immigrants have settled: Canada, Guyana, Malaysia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, etc. In Suriname, it is no longer eaten only by Hindus, but is loved by all population groups. In the Netherlands, it has become a popular takeaway dish since the waves of emigration from Suriname to the Netherlands in the mid-1970s.

With the emigration of Hindustani from India to Suriname, the roti also came along. The “pancake” called roti in Suriname (and the Netherlands) is also called chapati in India. It is a kind of unsweetened bread pancake that can have various additions: in the Surinamese variant, mostly ground yellow split peas (roti dalbharie) or potatoes (roti alubharie) and with seasonings such as cumin and chili pepper.

For the preparation, balls of dough (possibly with additional ingredients) are rolled out into thin “pancakes” that are baked on a so-called roti plate. The Surinamese roti is served with a number of side dishes such as long beans, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, garlic, onion and various types of meat (chicken, duck, sheep), which side dishes are usually seasoned with masala, a mixture of ground spices similar to curry.

Roti is not eaten with tomato in Suriname. It is customary to eat the roti with your hands. One breaks off a piece of the roti sheet to grab the roti with the piece in hand and eat it. Roti wraps, which can also be eaten with a fork and knife, are on the rise.