Much of what I know about Trinidad I learnt through my Grandparents. Which is probably why almost everything I do here reminds me of them.
Eating doubles is no exception.
Doubles was always a ‘Saturday morning’ thing in my Grandparent’s house. Grampa would ‘go down d road for a papers (newspaper) and a doubles’ which would probably be somewhere around 7:00/7:30am (wayy too early for me!). So, I would always wake up to soggy..or cold doubles. But doubles nonetheless..
This is probably why I’ve always associated doubles with breakfast..coz that’s the only way I knew them. But after being here for a while, I’m now learning that people also eat doubles for lunch, and increasingly..a late night snack after a night of drinking.
I like to think of doubles as the Trinidadian equivalent of a bagels..or for my Lebanese readers, manouche.. They are undoubtedly the most common street food in Trinidad (although gyro vendors are trying their best to change that). They’re probably best described as ‘a “sandwich” made with two flat fried “breads“, called “bara” which are filled with curried chick peas, commonly called channa (from Urdu/Hindi/Bhojpuri “chanaa”) and topped with a variety of spicy chutneys (mango, cucumber, coconut, tamarind) and extra pepper sauce (ranging from a dash “slight” to much more).” source
According to my research,
“Some culinary historians plausibly assume that doubles evolved from the Indian dish Chole Bhature (also called Chana Bhatura), which is a combination of Chole (Chana masala), spicy chick peas and the Bhature (Poori), a fried puffy bread made of maida flour which is used in the making of Indian pastries, bread and biscuits.
The origins of this food began in Trinidad by the Deen family, Emamool Deen (a.k.a. Mamudeen) and his wife Rasulan in 1936 in Fairfield Princes Town. The name ‘doubles’ originated in 1937. When Mamudeen started the business, the products he sold were fried channa wrapped in cone-shaped packs. He diversified his product line soon after by adding curried channa with chutney. He then introduced a single bara with the curried channa. His customers would ask him to “double-up” on the bara hence the name “doubles” evolved and Deen’s Doubles became the pioneering brand.”
I KNOW I KNOW..for all of my non-Trini readers, doubles looks like the most disgusting thing you will ever eat (wait till you see how they’re prepared!). Doubles is just one of those things that doesn’t photograph well..I must’ve taken at least 10 pictures trying to get at least one that made doubles look the least bit appetizing! But I promise,,they’re delicious!
Since I moved to Trinidad, I’ve been having doubles for breakfast about once or twice a week..(which isn’t helping my carnival diet, that’s for sure). You see..there’s this doubles vendor, Captin Doubles, right by where I live..making eating doubles all to easy.
While his doubles are really really good (some would even say the best in the country)..I think it’s the captain hat that keeps me coming back time and time again.. I mean, how cute is he?!
You can see an online version of the article here. In it, he talks about his humble beginnings..his family..and his average day as a doubles vendor. (He wakes up at 2:00am every morning!) My favorite part of the article? This quote by the Captin: “I want my doubles business to be a tourist attraction. I want them to say, “Hey, I went by a doubles man in Trinidad and he had an automatic sensor bin”. Automatic sensor soap. With hand sanitizer, free mints, a call-in service, a drive-through service, and a smile. I want people to say, “Whey! I never see a doubles operation like this before!” I want other doubles and street food vendors to see we can take it to a higher level.”
Well said cap, well said.
After he places all of the ingredients into the barra..he then wraps it up into something looking like the below. Many people like to eat their doubles right then and there, at the vendor..but I prefer to wait until I get to work to have mine. As you can imagine, eating doubles is a bit of a mess (although some would beg to differ)..so I guess I like to make my mess in the privacy of my office.. 😉
A post about doubles wouldn’t be complete without this video I found by fellow Trinidadian blogger (and creative jefe) QD Ross.. in which he debunks the myth ‘that eating doubles is messy..’ A must watch for first time doubles eaters and people who are looking to perfect their doubles eating skills. 😉 (EPICWIN QD!)