Shalama's Halal Roti Shop

On first glance, Shalama's Halal Roti Shop looks like the sort of dicey hole in the wall where you might find yourself at 2 a.m. after a night-long drinking binge. But look closer and you'll catch a glimpse of the kitchen located just behind the front counter. Inside, you'll see a handful of hard-working matriarchs doing the same sort of time-tested home cooking that goes on in households all across Trinidad and Tobago. Those ladies have all the techniques down: making dough by hand and cooking flatbreads to order; sweating down garlic, onions, and Scotch bonnet pepper in a giant wok; gently coaxing flavor out of fatty, marrow-filled bits of lamb and chicken, then rendering those slow-cooked ingredients into curries bursting with character. When it all comes together, the results are magical. There's the spicy-sweet interplay of stewed meat and curried squash. And the textural variation of soft filling and chewy flatbread wrapping it all together. It's perfect drunk food, no doubt, but that's largely because it's also perfect soul food. And that's something that makes sense no matter what country you call home.

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