I love everything about street food. I love moving along as part of a crowd, being led by the smells and the sizzles. I love eating with my hands, and portions that are just small enough in size to leave room to try something else, another smell and another sizzle, farther along. I love trying new things, travelling around the world via my tastebuds. I love the vendors, the energy, the chats with fellow feasters. While the silence currently hangs heavy on our street food scene, set up a stall at home: I’m going to Mauritius (again) and Brazil this week, Ghana and Venezuela next.
Jackfruit kati roll (pictured above)
Jackfruit grows wild all over Mauritius and is given away freely to neighbours, friends and family. Fortunately, tinned jackfruit works nicely in this dish, but if need be you could use tinned chickpeas instead.
Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
For the roti
330g plain flour, plus 25g extra for dusting
1½ tsp carom seeds (AKA ajwain), or aniseed
45g ghee, melted, plus about 50g extra for brushing
200ml boiling water
For the jackfruit curry
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced (200g net weight)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
10g piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium green chillies, thinly sliced (pith and seeds discarded if you prefer less heat)
10 fresh curry leaves
60g fresh coriander, leaves picked, stalks roughly chopped
½ tsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp mild curry powder
200g cherry tomatoes
2 x 400g tin jackfruit in salted water, drained (450g net weight)
1 lemon – zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 1 tbsp; save the rest for another use
300ml boiling water
1 tsp salt
250g unsweetened coconut yoghurt, or regular plain yoghurt
Put the flour, carom seeds and a teaspoon and a quarter of salt in a medium bowl, and mix well. Make a well in the middle, add the ghee and the water, and mix with a wooden spoon until it comes together into a dough. By this stage, the mix will be hot, but fine to handle, so tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for a minute, until the dough comes together into a smooth ball. Return to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, start on the curry. Set a large saute pan for which you have a lid on a medium heat, add the ghee, and melt. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, curry leaves and chopped coriander stalks, and fry, stirring often, for 12-14 minutes, until the onions have softened. 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 up into strands (don’t worry if the odd piece is still whole).
While the jackfruit is cooking, divide the roti dough in four and use floured hands to roll each roughly 140g piece into a ball. Dust a work surface very well with some of the 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 dough and pushing outwards as you roll it into a circle. It’s essential to have a well-floured surface to stop the dough from sticking and to make rolling easier.
Set a large frying (or roti) pan on a high heat. Once the pan is very hot, dust any excess flour off one roti and place it in the pan. Brush the top of the roti generously with melted ghee, leave to cook for two minutes, until bubbles form and the underside is golden in patches, then flip over, brush the cooked side with more ghee and cook for a minute longer. Remove the cooked roti and set aside somewhere warm, wipe the pan with kitchen paper, then repeat with the remaining roti and ghee.
To assemble the kati rolls, spread some yoghurt on a roti, then spoon a quarter of the curry mix on top. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves, then roll up the roti tightly, a bit like you would a burrito. Serve warm with any leftover yoghurt on the side for dipping.
Prawn and cream cheese pasties
This (very untraditional) take on a classic Brazilian bar snack combines prawns and cream cheese inside a deep-fried pastry. I’ve used shop-bought puff pastry for ease, Philadelphia for accessibility (the brand most commonly used in Brazil is Catupiry, which you can buy online) and baked the pasties instead, not least so you can make more of them at the same time. In Brazil, these are called pasteis, but I’ve called them pasties as a nod to them being a similar concept.
Prep 15 min
Cook 50 min
1 x 320g sheet ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry, chilled
Flour, for dusting
1 egg, beaten
Hot sauce, to serve
2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve
For the filling
150g ready-cooked and peeled king prawns, chopped into ½cm pieces
1 green chilli, finely chopped (pith and seeds discarded if you prefer less heat)
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
125g cherry tomatoes, finely chopped, then squeezed to get rid of the excess liquid
100g Philadelphia cream cheese (or Brazilian Catupiry, if you can get it)
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Mix the first six filling ingredients in a bowl with a third of a teaspoon of salt, then stir in the Philadelphia, but don’t mix it in completely: you want pieces of cheese dotted throughout the mix, rather than a homogenous mass.
Lay the puff pastry sheet on a floured surface and give it a couple of rolls with a rolling pin to thin it out a little bit more. Using a round 10cm cutter, stamp out as many pastry circles as you can – you should get seven or so – and place them on a large baking tray. Gather up the scraps, re-roll and cut again, to give you three more pastry circles, and 10 in total. Place these on the tray, too.
Spoon about 30g of the prawn and cheese filling in the centre of each pastry circle, brush the exposed pastry with egg wash, and fold over the pastry to make half-moons. Press together the edges of the pastry with the back of a fork, to seal, then arrange on a large baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper, spacing them well apart. Cut a couple of small slits into each pasty so the steam can escape, brush the pasties all over with the egg wash, then bake for 25 minutes; rotate the tray once halfway, so they colour evenly.
Serve the pasties hot from the oven with lime wedges and your favourite hot sauce alongside.