It’s always been Debbie Deoraj’s dream to open a roti shop that offers the best tastes of Trinidad.
By Denise Bacon
On November 1, Debbie Deoraj opened the door to JJ’s Roti Delight in Centennial Plaza. “It’s always been my dream to open a roti shop and to offer the best tastes of Trinidad,” she said. Debbie catered weddings and house parties from her home kitchen for many years, all the while honing her culinary skills.
When the retail space became available to rent beside the LCBO, Debbie jumped at the opportunity. She quickly made a special trip to Trinidad to learn how to make doubles from the generational masters of this savoury snack, which is one of the restaurant’s specialties.
The original snack was spicy chickpea curry and sauces spread on a small flat pastry called a bara. This snack evolved to being served almost like a sandwich with a second bara on top. The double bara snack, doubles, won a place on the palates of millions. Therefore, even a single order is called a “doubles.”
Roti is to West Indians as tortilla is to Latin Americans or as pita is to Mediterraneans. It’s basically a flatbread that is mostly eaten with a curry. Trinidadians boast three types of roti that are all served at JJ’s.
Parathas are a slightly heavy but flaky flatbread. Bussup shot is a “beaten up” paratha. The name comes from the slang term “busted up shirt.” Dhalpuri is the most common bread that is used to make chicken roti or other curry filled rotis. Dhalpuri is a light, pillow soft two-layered roti filled with a dusting of seasoned ground split peas. Imagine a burrito made with this soft flatbread folded over a delicious, savoury curry.
Debbie said that all her curries are offered with any roti or rice combinations. “Our top sellers are curry chicken and curry goat rotis and doubles. I make everything from scratch, from A to Z,” she beamed. The restaurant has many other menu items including snacks, Trinidadian-style fried rice and chow mein, vegetarian and vegan dishes, and sweets.
Marilyn White, a first-time customer, tasted her curry chicken with rice and peas right at the counter and she said the food was delicious and exceeded her expectations. Marilyn was happy to not have to make long drives elsewhere to get good Trinidadian food.
The business is truly a family affair with Debbie’s husband, son, daughter-in-law, daughter, son-in-law and sister all doing their part to serve up the restaurant’s delights. They are thrilled to be in the neighbourhood serving the local community, including Mowat students who have discovered this new takeout restaurant for lunch.
JJ’s Roti Delight, named after her two grandchildren, Jayla and Jaylan, is in Centennial Plaza at Lawrence and Port Union. Give your tastebuds a boost!