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Riaz Phillips: Trinidadian culture in London
Andy Parsons

Roti, soca and Notting Hill Carnival: it’s the best of Trinidadian London

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Think of Caribbeans in London and you’re probably picturing Jamaicans. But there’s a sizable populace from Trinidad & Tobago in every corner of the capital, and although it’s often assumed that the twin islands’ cultures are similar to that of Jamaica, bear in mind that the two countries are more than a thousand miles apart: the distance between London and Budapest.

The food of Trinidad & Tobago gives an insight into its ethnically diverse nature. If you’ve ever wondered why the menus at certain Trini outlets look like a boiling pot of African, Caribbean and Indian food, it’s because its people have roots across three or more continents.

This calabash of cultures also shows up in the island’s music. The steel-drum-infused sounds of calypso and soca give frenetic vibrancy to Trini parties known as ‘fetes’: a pivotal part of the history of Notting Hill Carnival, where you’ll see Trini culture on proud display every year. Riaz Phillips

Did you know? The Trinidadian calypso singer Lord Kitchener emigrated to London on the Empire Windrush in 1948. His optimistic signature song ‘London Is the Place for Me’ was written during the voyage from the Caribbean.

Riaz’s favourite Trini spots in London

The choice of fillings at Roti Stop in Stoke Newington is huge – from pumpkin and calaloo to curried goat and saltfish. The fresh roti here are made on a traditional tawah.

Between Thursdays and Sundays, Horizon Foods in Edmonton opens its doors to the public. Queues quickly ensue for big bags of freshly made soft aloo potato pie, chickpea dahl puri and flaky ‘buss up shot’ paratha (the recipe is a family secret).

Trinidadian Brian Danclair draws on food from across the Caribbean at Fish, Wings & Tings in Brixton. The buzz of the outdoor seating area is matched by the vividness of his sauces.

Non-stop soca music adds to the vibe in Clapham’s Roti Joupa. The open kitchen lets you watch as soft chickpea doubles and sweet dough pholourie bites are made in front of you.

Find more Caribbean hotspots in Riaz’s book ‘Belly Full: Caribbean Food in the UK’, published by Tezeta Press.

The best of Trinidadian London, according to you

A post shared by Busspepper (@busspepper) on

‘All Trinis know about Busspepper club events – they help me survive the winter!’ Crystal L via Facebook

‘Roti Masters in Croydon: proper Trini attitude, service, dahl puri and doubles.’ Michael S via timeout.com

‘Chapie Trini, a market stall on Saturdays at Ridley Road Market.’ Frank M via timeout.com

Now check out our pick of London’s best Caribbean restaurants.

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