Spice City Toronto: Roti Perfection



Spice City Toronto: Roti Perfection

A family-run Etobicoke restaurant makes rotis and doubles for a loyal clientele.

I knew it was going to be a good meal when a regular customer invited me to his table to try his food and listen to anecdotes about his love for the restaurant. Drupati Doubles & Roti Shop, located at 975 Albion Road in Etobicoke, inspires this kind of devotion in many of its loyal patrons.

“Five days out of seven I eat here or at the Drupati’s in Brampton,” enthused Trinidad native Vaughn Khan, who started going to the restaurant in 1994. “The food is just as good or better than what they serve in Trinidad. Servings are large, the food is excellent and the people are like family.”

Even with high expectations, I was impressed by the food. Normally I find that Caribbean roti can’t compete with my favourite Indian-style roti from Gandhi’s Indian Cuisine, but Drupati’s roti was just as good as—if not better than—the Gandhi classics.

Loyal customer Vaughn Khan enjoys the same food he's been eating since 1994.

The dough was made up of many thin layers dusted with bits of dahl (yellow split peas). Inside, the lamb was tender and lean, with a powerful spicy sauce. Regular sized rotis are $7.49 to $8.99; smaller versions sell for $5.49 to $7.25.

The doubles (two fried pieces of bara—a doughy bread—slathered with a chick pea curry) were excellent, and just $1.50. If you like it hot, they will add some sauce made with shado beni, a Caribbean herb.

The lamb roti at Drupati's.

Drupati’s started off as a struggling grocery store run by a Trinidadian family of Indian descent. Business was slow, explained Asha Ramlakhan, daughter of the founding couple.

Ramlakhan’s mother, whose first name is Drupati, started cooking up doubles in the tiny staff room and selling them. “The doubles took off and we started expanding from there.”

Then Asha’s father took up the cooking, and he’s never stopped. “My dad has done all the cooking since day one, and we’ve never had another cook,” says Asha. “He’ll be here until he is ready to retire, and I don’t know what will happen then.”

The menu boasts some other interesting items. Appetizers include saheena, a greasy spinach fritter, and pulourie, oily balls of dough that make Timbits look like health food, served with a wonderfully tangy tamarind sauce. Duck curry, goat tripe and fish soup are also available.

Drupati’s is located at 975 Albion Road. Tel: 416 745-4189. Hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m..

Spice City Toronto explores Toronto’s great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip-mall joints serving food from all corners of the world.

Photos by Sarah Efron.