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Buss up shut: The Caribbean roti with a catchy name

Buss up shut from Teddy’s Roti Shop in Washington. (Jennifer Chase/For The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick)
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There are many styles of roti — none of which should be confused with the fast-casual chain Roti Modern Mediterranean. In places serving the food of Trinidad and Tobago, you’re bound to find paratha, also called “buss up shut” (the vernacular for “busted-up shirt”), apropos of the bread’s remarkable resemblance to a torn shirt.

Roti — a generic term for flatbread, derived from the Sanskrit for “bread” — came to Trinidad and Tobago by way of indentured servants from the Indian subcontinent in the 1800s. After its arrival, explains David Nagar of Teddy’s Roti Shop in Washington, roti was revolutionized over the years, becoming a beloved and popular food on the islands. Buss up shut, in particular, is often found at parties, weddings and other celebrations. No matter the occasion, though, eat it with your hands: Tear into the flaky bread and use it to scoop up every last bit of your chosen accompaniment.

Or just eat it plain — it practically melts in your mouth, requiring no ceremony.

1. Bread

It’s the star of the show: Cooked on a tawa, or a flat griddle, the bread is extra flaky, thanks to liberal application of fat (ghee, butter, oil, margarine or shortening — it depends on the cook) as well as the cooking method, in which two spatulas are used to fold and beat the bread, creating texture and that signature busted-up appearance.

2. Sides

Curried chana (chickpeas) and potatoes add yet another boost of protein and starch. You will not be hungry after eating this.

3. Main

Buss up shut goes with anything, but you’ll usually find curried goat, chicken, shrimp or a mix of vegetables.

4. Condiments

Fiery pepper sauce, chunky amchar (a condiment made of spiced green mango) or tangy tambran (tamarind) sauce can be added.

Find buss up shut in the District at Teddy’s Roti Shop (7304 Georgia Ave. NW, 202-882-6488) and at Sunrise Caribbean Restaurant (5329 Georgia Ave. NW, 202-291-2949,; and in Takoma Park at Caribbean Palace, where it is wise to call ahead and confirm availability (7680 New Hampshire Ave., 301-431-1563,

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