My wife was showing very little faith in me. For years I’ve wanted to make doubles, and have only heard “They’re hard to make.” Now I know better.
For those who don’t know, I will explain. Doubles are in Trinidad what donuts are here in the U.S. The perfect mid-morning snack that everyone craves. Also, just like donuts here, everyone has their own favorite spot to purchase these little creations. They are different from donuts in that they are not sweet. At all. Doubles consist of curried chick peas (hereafter called channa) in a very flavorful sauce, between two pieces of bara bread.
In Trinidad, often you need to tell the food vendors how much pepper sauce to add. Once again, this is in addition to the hot peppers already used in cooking the food. There are three choices when asking for pepper: “no pepper” (that’s what I always say), “slight pepper,” and “heavy pepper” (also known as “plenty pepper”). When ordering your doubles with heavy pepper, don’t forget to also ask for the 2-gallon jug of ice water that you will need to deaden the pain you will be inflicting on your poor unsuspecting palate. And please, please, don’t forget to wash your hands before doing something stupid like rubbing your eyes or you will be introduced to an all new kind of pain.
This weekend, since it has been so cold here lately, I suggested to my lovely wife that we have a Trinidad weekend, meaning of course that all the food we eat this weekend will be Trini food. A much better idea would be, of course, to go to Trinidad and eat all this great food on the beach, but since that’s not an option, we’ll settle for this. Karen is making curry chicken and pelau for dinner tonight for us and our guests, and tomorrow we are having bake and shark for Sunday lunch (with tilapia).
So this lovely Saturday morning I decided to tackle Trinidad’s favourite breakfast. Using the official cookbook of T&T, the Naparima Girls’ High School cookbook, I set to work early this morning right after Benjamin woke me up. I haven’t used or needed an alarm clock in 5 years. The dough needs to rise for an hour and a half, so I started on that first. The recipe said “Add water until it forms a soft dough.” Remember how great I am at judgement calls with dough? I woke up Karen. She added the water, and we let it rest. In the meantime I cooked the filling. I formed the baras and it became apparent that we would need more, so Karen made a second batch with rapid rise yeast. We were glad we made two batches, because we learned some things during the first batch:
- They were a bit too thick
- They were a bit too big around
- We fried them for a bit too long
But the second batch came out very close to perfect. The result is here, but it’s from the first batch:
That second piece of bara goes on top to finish the sandwich. They were very tasty, and next time I think I’ll put some chopped serrano chiles in with the channa.
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. tumeric powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. instant yeast
- 2 cans of chick peas
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tbsp. curry powder
- 1 1/4 cups water
- pinch of ground cumin
- 1 tsp. salt
- hot pepper to taste
- fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste
- In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, tumeric, cumin, sugar, and yeast.
- Add enough lukewarm water to make a soft dough; mix well, cover and let rise for one and a half hours.
- Punch down dough and allow to relax for 10-15 minutes.
- To shape the bara, take about 1 tablespoon of dough and flatten roll out to a circle 4 or 5 inches in diameter.
- Fry a few at a time in hot oil; turn once and drain on paper towels.
- Heat oil in a heavy pot. Add garlic, onion, and curry powder mixed with 1/4 cup water; saute for a few minutes.
- Add channa, stir to coat well. Add 1 cup water, cumin, salt and pepper.
- Cover, lower heat and simmer until peas are soft; add more water if necessary. When channa is finished it should be soft and moist; adjust seasoning.
- Add cilantro and serve
To serve, make a sandwich by placing some cooked channa between two baras.