Doubles are one of the iconic snacks from Trinidad, where my husband is from. In fact, they were invented in 1936 in Princes Town, Trinidad, quite close to my husband’s village in the South of Trinidad. Doubles are basically a snack-sized sandwich made of two flatbreads (hence “doubles”) known as bara, filled with a curried chickpea (or channa, as it is known in Trinidad) filling. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Trinidad’s cuisine, many of its popular dishes are Indian in origin, as is nearly half the population. Doubles are most commonly eaten at breakfast (and the best vendors will sell out by mid-morning), but they’re also sometimes eaten as a late-night snack. They can be eaten as-is or further customized with condiments, most commonly Trinidadian pepper sauce (made of Scotch bonnet peppers), kuchela (green mango pickle spiced with amchar masala) or a thin tamarind sauce. It’s worth seeking out a Caribbean market to get these ingredients and condiments, or second best an Indian grocery. In a pinch, Mexican habanero pepper sauce (my husband’s favorite is el Yucateco) can be swapped for Trinidadian Scotch bonnet pepper sauce and Indian mango pickle (not chutney) will give a similar tart-spicy flavor as the kuchela. This photo was taken of doubles we ate on a recent trip to Trinidad– served as they are normally sold, wrapped in paper. And after you’ve had your doubles, join me on a stroll through Debe Market, not far from the birthplace of doubles.
This recipe is adapted from the Naparima Girls’ High School Cookbook, a classic community cookbook from Trinidad.
Makes 8 sandwiches
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder (ideally Trinidadian) or ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup Canola oil (for frying)
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, curry powder or turmeric, and cumin.
2. In a separate small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and warm water. Set aside for about 5 minutes, until it foams.
3. Add the yeast mixture to the spiced flour mixture and enough additional water to form a slightly firm dough. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about 60 to 90 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the chickpea filling (recipe follows).
5. After the dough has risen, punch down and then allow to rest for 10 minutes. Then dampen hands with water or oil and pull off tablespoon sized pieces of dough and roll into 4 1/2 inch rounds. Repeat until you have used up all the dough and have an even number of rounds.
6. Heat oil in a deep frying pan over medium high heat (should be about 3 inches deep). When oil is ready, fry the baras until puffed an golden, about 15 to 30 seconds on each side. Drain on paper towels or a wire rack.
Curried chickpea (channa) filling
1 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed with cool water
1 tablespoon curry powder mixed with 1/4 cup water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon Scotch bonnet or Habanero pepper sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Canola oil
1 cup water
1. Warm a large frying pan or skillet, add oil and warm until shimmery. Add garlic, onion and the curry mixture and sauté for a few minutes.
2. Add the drained chickpeas and stir to coat with the spice mixture and cook for another five minutes. Add cumin, salt, pepper and another 1 cup of water and stir. Then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes, covered, until the chickpeas are very soft. There should still be sauce. If not, reconstitute with enough water to form a medium-thick sauce. Add pepper sauce and stir.
3. Finally, assemble your doubles by placing one bara on a plate, spooning one tablespoon of the chickpea filling on it, topping with additional condiments as desired (see my notes above). Enjoy at once!
shado beni (culantro)
pimento (sweet, not spicy);
not to be confused with
Scotch bonnet peppers
eggs and fresh turmeric root
Thanks for coming by! If you’ve enjoyed this tour of Trinidad, please leave a comment and share with your friends! I’ll be back next week with more from Trinidad.