My last few recipes have been more Caribbean-inspired than Caribbean, so today I’m doing something more traditional, hence this Doubles recipe.
“Doubles” are a common type of street food in Trinidad consisting of fried dough (called “bara”), filled with curried chickpeas (or “channa”). Depending on the vendor, your “doubles” might be channa sandwiched between two pieces of bara shaped like two round disks (resembling a pita pocket), or it could be channa wrapped in roti (resembling a burrito). The first is more common, hence the term doubles. Since it would take a whole post to explain the intricacies of Trini roti (affectionately called “buss up shut”), that’s for another day. Today is about doubles!
I’ll start by saying that I was a little scared to post this recipe.
Ok, correction: a lot scared.
I have a lot of Trini friends and I know they are very very critical when it comes to their food. It has to be genuine and it has to taste great in order to get their stamp of approval. Apart from being from Trinidad, I think eating doubles is the next best way to be qualified to make a doubles recipe. So on the basis of the amount of doubles I’ve had, I feel like this doubles recipe will make my Trini friends proud.
I spent the entire week testing recipes and trying to recreate the feeling of comfort that I have each time I eat doubles. Though I have never been to Trinidad and Tobago (yet!), I have had a lot of doubles. The best doubles I ever ate was from a tiny Trini restaurant located off Nostrand Ave in Brooklyn, NY. There are a few essential things to know about this restaurant. When I walked in, I was greeted by the smell of delicious food. But that was the only greeting: no one said hello, and no one asked me for my order. There wasn’t even a menu – you either had to go online to see what they offered or look around to see what others were getting. If you dared to ask what they had, the woman taking your order would look at you like you had two heads. And I loved it! These were all signs that I was entering a genuine Trini establishment. After I ordered my roti and paid (of course, the restaurant only took cash), I sat back and listened to the cooks in the kitchen banter with one another in English accented with that beautiful sing-song lilt unique to Trinidad. Hearing them laugh and joke while they prepared my food was confirmation that it would taste amazing, because food is a reflection of the emotions of the one who cooks it. When I received my order and started eating, I felt like I was having the best comfort food ever. Doubles are inherently very simple to make and I think the simplicity is what makes it so comforting.
Now, about this recipe.
Today’s doubles recipe keeps things simple and healthy by replacing the traditional fried dough with whole wheat pitas. You can also use naan, if you prefer. This substitution keeps the character of doubles, but also makes it healthier and greatly reduces the amount of time it takes to prepare. This doubles recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes! It’s easy to make, flavorful, and good for you! It’s also VEGAN! While I am not vegan or vegetarian, I’ve consciously chosen to make 3 of the first 4 recipes on the blog vegan to combat the myth that Caribbean food is all meat. While meats play an important role in many Caribbean recipes, much of our food incorporates fresh fruits and vegetables.
But don’t be fooled, this recipe is packed with flavor, thanks to the curry and turmeric spices added to the channa. While doubles can be pretty spicy, especially if the recipe uses scotch bonnet peppers, this channa recipe relies on hot curry powder for spice. The spice level should be tolerable for most people (but this is coming from a Jamaican, so my perception of spicy is skewed…but it’s not killer spicy, I promise!).
Traditionally, doubles are served with various accompaniments. The most popular are a sweet chutney made from tamarind and a hot pepper sauce made from scotch bonnet peppers (are you beginning to sense that Caribbeans love heat?!). To be honest, the sauces are not necessary at all, since the channa is already so flavorful.
Since the curry chickpeas keep well, this recipe is a great meal prep option, as you can cook up a big batch of chickpeas and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, just re-heat the chickpeas and toast the pita/naan and you have a delicious portable lunch option!
I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you try this recipe, leave a comment below and be sure to tag #SweetandSorrel.
- 1 15.5 oz can of low sodium chickpeas
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 of a medium sweet onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp hot yellow curry powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 cup vegetable stock, plus more if needed
- salt and pepper to taste
- your choice of whole wheat pita or naan
- Drain and rinse the chickpeas and set aside.
- To make the channa: In a medium-sized pot, saute diced onion over medium heat until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute for 1 minute. Add curry powder, cumin, turmeric, and thyme and saute until spices become fragrant. Add chickpeas and stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until chickpeas become tender. Add more stock if the mixture begins to dry out. (Note: be careful not to add too much liquid to the chickpeas, as they will become mushy).
- Once the channa is done, warm your choice of pita or naan and arrange the channa mixture on top for a traditional doubles. Or you can form a wrap, with the channa inside. Whichever you prefer!