Doubles are a popular street food in Trinidad and Tobago. Doubles consist of a curry chickpea (channa) filling sandwiched between two spiced, fried flatbread called bara. The channa filling is topped with a spicy cucumber chutney and tamarind chutney (I use Indian mango chutney as I prefer it over tamarind chutney). Doubles are commonly eaten for breakfast and as a late-night snack, but they can also be served as appetizers. If you’re like me and you want an alternative to the same old cold cut sandwiches, then give doubles a try for lunch.
How to Make Doubles
Making doubles is a labour of love. This is not the type of food that you want to make on a busy weeknight. This is best for those days when you’ve got time to kill and want to have some fun in the kitchen. Since you have to make three separate foods (four if you decide to make your own tamarind or mango chutney) to make doubles, timing is important if you want to have everything done at the same time. My advice is that you start making the dough for the bara first and about 30 minutes before the dough is done resting, start making the channa filling. Leave the cucumber chutney for when you’re done making the bara and the channa filling and are letting them cool down before serving. If you’re making your own tamarind chutney, make that well ahead of time, like the day before.
Instructions for Making the Bara (Flatbread)
To make the bara, combine 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast with 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 cup of warm water in a bowl. Set the mixture aside until bubbles begin to form at the top, about 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, and 1 tablespoon of curry powder.
Add the flour mixture to the yeast and mix together to form a dough, add more flour to the mixture if the dough is too wet. Kneed the dough on a lightly floured surface for 2 minutes. Oil the inside of a bowl completely with 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Form the dough into a ball and place in the oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a wet dish towel and place the bowl in a warm place for 90 minutes, until the dough doubles in size.
Punch down the dough to release the air, then split the dough into 10-14 small balls; I like my doubles to be slightly larger than usual so I split the dough into 10 pieces. If you want regular sized doubles, split the dough into 14 pieces. Take one of the balls and roll it into a flat pancake. If the dough sticks to your hand as you’re flattening it, oil both sides of the dough and continue making it flat. Repeat this with the remaining balls.
Heat canola oil in a wok or deep frying pan to 350° F (175° C); use 3 cups of oil or enough to completely immerse the bara. Fry the bara one at a time until they’re puffed and golden, about 40 seconds on each side. Put the bara on a plate lined with paper towel once they’ve been fried.
Instructions for Making the Channa (Chickpea) Filling
For the channa filling, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Dice one medium onion and mince 3 cloves of garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the oil and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons of curry powder, mix everything together and cook for 1 minute. Drain 1 can of chickpeas (16 ounces) and pour the chickpeas into the saucepan.
Add 1 cup of water or vegetable stock as well as 1 teaspoon of black pepper and salt (to taste) to the mixture. At this point, I like to use the back of a large spoon to mash the chickpeas a bit so they don’t roll off the flatbread when I’m eating the doubles. Cover the saucepan and cook the channa until the liquid is completely reduced, about 15 minutes.
Instructions for Making the Cucumber Chutney
Wash 1/2 of an English cucumber. Use a coarse blade grater to grate the cucumber. Pour the grated cucumber into a small sieve strainer and completely strain the water from the cucumber; use the back of a spoon to press the water out of the cucumber. After draining the water, pour the cucumber into a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of diced cilantro, 1 teaspoon of diced scotch bonnet pepper (seed for a less spicy chutney), and 2 teaspoons of lime juice to the cucumber and mix everything together.
To assemble the doubles, take a bara, put some of the channa filling on top, garnish with some of the cucumber chutney and tamarind or mango chutney. Make a sandwich by placing a bara on top of the filling. You can also eat the doubles by folding the filled bara into a taco.
Doubles store well in the fridge, just keep them disassembled when refrigerating for later. When you’re ready to eat them, you can heat the bara in the microwave on high for 30-40 seconds. I’ve never tried to freeze the bara so I’m sure how they’d turn out after freezing.
This recipe for doubles is my own recipe. However, I originally learned how to make Trinidadian food from reading the Naparima Girls’ High School Cookbook. This cookbook is a classic, comprehensive guide to Trinidadian cuisine. I highly recommend it to those who want to learn more about Trinidadian food.
Doubles (Trinidadian Flatbread with Curried Chickpeas)
For the Bara
- 2 cups all-purpose-flour
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 cup warm water
- 3 cups canola oil (or enough to immerse and fry each bara)
For the Channa Filling
- 16 ounces canned chickpeas (drained)
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 cup water or vegetable stock (if using vegetable stock with sodium then consider omitting the salt)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
For the Cucumber Chutney
- ½ English cucumber
- 1 tsp garlic (minced)
- 1 tbsp cilantro (diced)
- 1 tsp scotch bonnet pepper (diced; seed for a less spicy chutney)
- 2 tsp lime juice
For the Bara
- Combine the active dry yeast with the sugar and warm water in a bowl. Set the mixture aside for 10 minutes or until bubbles form at the top.
- In a separate bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, curry powder, turmeric, ground cumin, and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and form into a dough (add more flour if the mixture is too wet). Lightly flour a surface and kneed the dough for 2 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a wet dish towel. Place the bowl in a warm place for 90 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.
- Punch down the dough and then split the dough into 10-14 small balls. Take one of the balls and form it into a flat pancake. Oil both sides of the dough if it sticks to your hand as you’re flattening it. Repeat this step with remaining balls.
- Heat the canola oil in a deep-frying pan to 350° F (175° C). Fry the bara one at a time for about 40 seconds on each side or they’re until puffed and golden. Line a plate with paper towel and place the bara on the plate once they’re done frying.
For the Channa Filling
- Heat the canola oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat.
- Add the onion and garlic to the oil and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the cumin, nutmeg and curry powder to the mixture and cook for 1 minute.
- Pour the chickpeas into the pot and add water or vegetable stock, black pepper, salt (if using), and scotch bonnet pepper.
- Use the back of a large spoon to lightly mash the chickpeas so they don't roll off the flatbread when eating the doubles. Cover the pot with a lid and cook the channa until the liquid is completely reduced, about 15 minutes.
For the Cucumber Chutney
- Grate the cucumber using a coarse blade grater. Pour the grated cucumber into a small sieve strainer and strain the water from the cucumber completely. Use the back of a spoon to press the water out of the cucumber.
- Pour the cucumber into a small bowl, add the garlic, cilantro, scotch bonnet pepper, lime juice and mix everything together.