Guyana situated on the northern mainland of South America is the only English speaking country in the continent. It gained independence in 1966 and officially became a republic within the British Commonwealth of Nations in 1970.
It is a member of the Caribbean community (CARICOM), which has it’s headquarters in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown.
Guyana means “land of many waters”. 80% of the country is made up of rainforest. Kaieteur Falls is the world’s widest single drop waterfall, located on the Potaro River in the Kaieteur National Park and is about four times higher than the Niagara Falls.
90% of the population lives in a narrow coastal strip, which makes up approximately 10% of the nation’s total land area.
In 1973, Jim Jones, founder of ’The People’s Temple’, leased some land in the Guyanese jungle and set up the Jonestown compound. Hundreds of People’s Temple members flew to Guyana and moved in to the compound. It was meant to be utopia, but it was overcrowded and cabins were segregated by gender, meaning married couples were forced to live apart. It was run like a prison encircled with armed guards. On Nov 18th 1978, Jim Jones congregated the group and urged them to commit ‘revolutionary’ suicide. Cyanide and valium were mixed with a flavoured powder to make the lethal drink. The Jonestown massacre resulted in the deaths of 912 people, 276 were children. Jones himself died from a single gunshot wound to the head – it is unclear if he did this himself.
The cuisine of Guyana is diverse, taking influence from Africa, Creole, Indian, Portugese and Chinese among others. Popular dishes are curry, cookup rice (rice & peas), Pepperpot (Guyanese spicy stew) and black cake. I decided to make Roti (flatbreads).
As Mum & Dad were joining us for dinner, I served the Rotis alongside the South African sosaties, Lebanese tabbouleh and salad & raita. Overall the meal was rated 9/10.
Makes 6 rotis
Prep time: 10 minutes + 45 minutes standing time for dough
Cook time: 40 minutes
1 cup self raising flour
2 cups plain flour
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup melted butter
Mix flours, salt and water to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth and let sit for 15 mins.
Roll dough into a rectangular shape about 1/8 inch in thickness.
Place oil and butter together in a bowl. Spread oil and butter mixture liberally over the dough, making sure entire surface of dough is oiled.
Starting from the longer side, roll up the dough tightly.
Slice into six pieces. Scrunch the oily ends of the dough together (like making a pork ball) and then tuck them in so you end up with a round ball.
Place on a tray with the joined side down.
Let them sit for at least half hour.
Place a crepe or omlette pan over a medium heat.
While the pan heats up roll out the dough to a flat, thin circle, one at a time.
Place the dough into the ungreased pan and cook for 1 minute, then flip.
Liberally brush the oil mixture on the roti and after 30 seconds, flip again.
Now brush the other side of the roti with the oil mixture and flip again.
Cook for an additonal minute, then take off the heat and place in a covered bowl.
Shake in covered bowl vigoruously.
This will make the roti fluffy and should reveal the layers.
Continue this process until all the roti is cooked.
Kneading the roti dough
Resting the roti dough
Rolling out the roti
Rolled up roti