Trinidad Doubles (recipe)
As I’ve written in the past, Trinidad doubles is the ultimate local street food. It’s cheap. Usually hot/warm. Hearty. Filling. And, as an extra bonus for non-meat eaters, it’s completely vegan!
Originating and evolving from the Indian street food chole bathura, Doubles is often cited as being “invented” by the Deen family of Princes Town in 1936. As the story goes….
Doubles as a dish was created in Fairfield, Princes Town by Emamool Deen (a.k.a. Mamudeen) and his wife Raheman Rasulan Deen in 1936. Mamudeen used to sell the bara (flat fried dough) and channa (chickpeas) separately. When people buying these two items began requesting to double the bara in their orders the name “doubles” was coined.From Wikipedia
And now? Well now it’s literally everywhere, even in gourmet establishments such as the Hyatt Trinidad. So why not try giving this recipe a turn at home for yourself?
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that you will get it right on a first try. Unless you have watched someone for a while, and even then, it’s going to take you a few tries. But, believe me, even those mistakes will be pretty delicious, and hopefully inspire you to keep trying.
By the way, I’ve seen online several people mentioning that their bara tends to come out like fried bake (bready?) … So I should let readers know that done right bara should be spongy and pillowy, light and chewy and very flexible/bendable. The trick? The one-two punch of flash frying and then steaming, explained below.
ETA (April 14, 2022): This recipe is one that I have used for many years with some tweaks along the way but I will be updating it -very- soon to one that I have been developing on and off my Twitch stream for the past year. If you want to be one of the first to be notified when my updated recipe for Trinidad Doubles goes live, join my FREE newsletter!
(adapted from a recipe in the Naparima Girls’ High School Cookbook)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon geera (cumin)
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 teaspoon yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 tsp sugar
Oil for frying
Filling (Curried Channa):
1 14 oz channa, tinned
1 tablespoon curry powder
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tsp ground geera (cumin)
1 tsp Pepper sauce
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1. In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, curry powder and gheera.
2. In a separate small bowl place the warm water, sugar and yeast and set to sponge for 5 minutes.
3. To the flour, add the yeast mixture and enough water to make a slightly firm dough.
4. Mix well, cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
5. For the filling, heat the oil in a heavy skillet, add onion, garlic and 1 heaped tablespoon of curry powder mixed with 1/4 cup water.
6. Sauté for a few minutes.
7. Add the channa, stir to coat well and cook for five minutes.
8. Add 1 cup water, geera, salt and pepper; cover, lower heat and simmer until the peas are very soft (20-30 minutes).
9. When the channa is finished it should be moist and soft.
10. Add pepper sauce and season to taste with additional salt if desired.
11. For the bara: The dough should be punched down and allowed to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
12. To shape the bara, take 1 tablespoon of the dough and flatten to a round, 4 or 5 inches in diameter.
NOTE: Pay particular attention to how thin, flat, and oily/sticky these rounds are. If your rounds are thicker, dryer or heavier than this they will -not- come out with the right texture
13. Use oil to moisten palms of your hands so that the dough won’t stick to them 🙂
14. Fry the baras in hot oil until puffy (about 15 seconds per side), turn once and drain (covered) on kitchen paper. I like to use a plastic storage container. This allows the bara to steam as it cools and stay soft
15. When all have been fried place 2 bara so that they overlap. Cover them with the channa sauce and top with your choice of “chadon beni/green” sauce, tamarind/mango chutney and grated cucumber. I’ll leave the amount of hot sauce up to you!
Makes 6 servings