Written by: Priya Balakumar
“Two doubles, plenty peppa please!”
That’s my order each time I land at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad. It’s the first thing I want to eat as soon as I arrive on Trinidadian soil. Nothing beats fresh doubles from the doubles man in Debe!
Doubles is by far one of the most popular street foods in the Indo-Caribbean community and can be found in the Caribbean, Canada, the U.S and even Europe.
What is Doubles?
Doubles is basically a sandwich made up of two baras (flat fried bread) and filled with channa (curried chick peas). These one of a kind delicacies are not complete without being topped with mango chutney, bandanya, cucumber, tamarind, and pepper sauce!
Doubles is a dish that is eaten at all hours of the day, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time!
How was Doubles created?
Doubles originated in Trinidad and was created in 1936 by Emamool Deen (a.k.a. Mamudeen) and his wife Rasulan in Fairfield Princes Town. While working on an estate taking care of cattle in 1933, Mamudeen decided to try and enter the food industry by selling fried channa on the road. Over the years he experimented with seasoned channa and eventually curry channa. His friends advised him that the curry channa was too soft to package and suggested that he try selling it with “bara'' which is a traditional Indian soft bread. This bread was first brought over by indentured Indians and was called “bhatura.”
The dish got its name “Doubles” when Mamudeen’s customers would ask him to “double up” on the bara, hence making it a sandwich.
Indian influences brought over by indentured labourers
Many historians also believe that Doubles was heavily influenced by a dish called Chole Bhature that originated from Northern India. It is a combination of chana curry served with a side of bhatura (fried bread). Similarly to doubles, it is eaten throughout the day as part of different meals. It is often accompanied by onions, pickled carrots, green chutney or achaar.
What I love most about the Indo-Caribbean culture is our ability to preserve aspects of our history while blending in new traditions—and all the wonderful dishes that have evolved over the decades! From Pholourie to Saheena to Aloo pie, our culture is ultimately a melting pot of delicious food.