I know what you’re thinking: What are those?! – And that’s okay. I thought the same thing when I first laid my eyes on this beige-on-beige Trinidadian staple called doubles. A doubles (always pronounced with the ‘s’ on the end, even when singular) is a palm-sized snack consisting of one or two slightly crispy fried dough pillows called bara and a spicy chickpea filling known as channa. This Trinidadian street food is usually topped with finely minced cucumber, shado beni (cilantro), hot pepper sauce, and my personal favourite, sweet and sour tamarind sauce. Doubles’ are always wrapped in wax paper, making them a portable snack to enjoy on-the-go.
I remember my first experience with Doubles. It was my first time visiting Trinidad and I was really impressed with how good the food was on this vibrant little island. One night, in the early hours of the morning after attending one of the many fetes (parties) throughout the island, my friends and I were starving. As we exited the venue we noticed an extremely long line-up of hungry locals. The slight smell of curry and deep-fried dough took over the island breeze, so we proceeded to hop into that line without question.
The ‘doubles man’ furiously worked around his small stand preparing endless amounts of doubles for all who waited and salivated. The line-up actually moved surprisingly fast as the young man pumped out doubles like a well oiled machine. After a few moments of anticipation and intrigue we were lucky enough to receive our fresh doubles. Others were not. Once the channa or bara runs out, the stand shuts down until next time. We stood there eating our doubles while the others who missed the ‘doubles boat’ jealously walked away.
As I took my first bite I remember experiencing a flavour combination like I’ve never had before. The channa was piping hot with notes of cumin, turmeric, and garlic. The dough had a slightly crisp shell to it while still remaining chewy on the inside. A dollop of cucumber chutney cooled down the bite from the hot sauce and a small splash of tamarind added elements of sweet and sour. It was the perfect blend of flavour sensations. Side note: if you only want minimal spice in your doubles ask for “slight pepper” – however the meaning of “slight” really depends on the chef. We ate around 4 doubles each. They did their job of soaking up the beverages after a long night of enjoying the local nightlife.
In Trinidad, doubles are eaten at any time of day; 24/7. During my many visits to the island, I continued to enjoy this snack for breakfast, lunch, mid-day snack, after-party eats etc… I invite you to try this unique food. It is not the healthiest of snacks, but it is vegetarian and something that will totally change the way you look at street food. They’re also very cheap and very filling; I’ve never paid more than $1.25 CND per doubles; now that’s what I call a carb-fuelled bargain. Who knows? They might even grow on you as they did with me.
I am lucky enough to have some great Trinidadian restaurants close to me that serve authentic doubles. Below are a few notes with links to some of my favourite places in Mississauga to bring back the wonderful memories of eating doubles in Trinidad. I’ve also added a link to the origins of this dish along with a recipe if you’re feeling adventurous.
Have you tried doubles and what do you think? Where are your favourite restaurants that serve this Trinidadian staple?? Comment below!
My Favourite Doubles in Mississauga:
Baras Caribbean Cuisine – Flagrant Channa & Fresh Bara. They have the best Tamarind and Pepper Sauce outside of Trinidad.
Leela’s Roti & Doubles – Always hot and spicy is Leela’s motto, and they live up to it! Great authentic doubles. Go easy on the pepper, it’s hot!!