Doubles Trouble…..

Street food with the highest cred.

Seething in envy, many Trinidadians, either born abroad or living there now, are only too happy to relay the ire they feel when locals even mention the word ‘doubles’. God forbid you post photographic evidence; that just seems to irritate (and cause lots of face-palming) them even more!

Such is the love for this national dish; the not-so-humble doubles. It’s not entirely a Trinidadian invention as some believe, rather, a variation on an Indian street food dish called channa bhatura found in many Indian restaurants. Like the toppings (chutneys, chows and pepper sauces) of late, the name tends to vary depending on the region; however, as is with all our local cuisine, doubles is still a localised invention.

For the sake of keeping the local history consistent, it is said that Mr Emamool Deen, sold his products in Princes Town Trinidad, when the doubles craze really got going. The ‘doubles’ part, purely a local thing, went from ‘channa bara’ to ‘gimme ah double please’. Today, what we have all around Trinidad is a dish so revered, there are constant debates on thin vs thick bara to runny channa and whether or not cucumber chow is a good idea or not.

Some vendors have taken to adding curried chicken, goat, shrimp and other meat varieties to either staunch support or responses of a blasphemous nature. Either way you look at it, this complex dish doled out in wax paper in rapid, surefire moves by experienced vendors, is and will always be a dish that holds a special place in the hearts of many.

The fandom of doubles has gone global as well. A recent CNN Eatocracy written by a CNN employee relayed quite well the underpinnings of the doubles ‘obsession’.

Friends who were asked to chime in on their favourite spots in Trinidad were only too willing to oblige. In fact, doubles are now so popular, satisfying and somewhat still affordable, that many vendors are expanding their hours, locations and also offering catering services as well. One local grocery chain even added a doubles vendor in every store during the day, just so that shoppers could have a snack in between.

Here’s a roundup of the doubles vendors our readers suggested with their feedback, around Trinidad that you may want to pay special attention to.

North and West

  • Who: Captain’s Doubles
    Where: Maraval, opposite Chaconia Hotel.
    Why: Flat, thin bara with a fabulous sweet sauce.

 

  • Who: Rodney’s
    Where: Corner of French St and Kitchener St, Woodbrook, 7-10am Mon-Fri.
    Why:“The sauces on point!” says one fan. 

 

  • Who: Chatterbox Doubles
    Where: Chacon Street (Mon-Fri mornings) and Aranjuez Savannah (Mon-Thurs evenings).
    Why:Thin bara, not greasy with soft channa and a home-made ‘dragon’ pepper sauce (Aranjuez spot only).

East: 

  • Who: Frank’s Doubles
    Where: UWI shed, St Augustine
    W
    hy: Another vendor to get several mentions.

 

  • Who: Ulies Doubles
    Where: Eastern Main Road, Sangre Grande, opposite Picton Road.
    Why: “So good, they sell out fast!”

 

Central

  • Who: Joe’s Doubles
    Where: Waterloo, Charlieville.
    Why: Made fresh in a food truck and comes with several chutneys including coconut chutney.

 

  • Who: Ravi’s Doubles
    Where: Chaguanas Main Road, Chaguanas.
    Why: It’s all good apparently.

 

  • Who: The Guys under the Blue Umbrella
    Where: Opposite Medford Gas Station, Chaguanas.
    Why: These guys got several mentions and all of them said, “it just real bess”.

 

South

  • Who: Johnny’s Doubles
    Where: M2 Ring Road, from 4:00 p.m., -6:00 p.m., on weekdays and 7:00 a.m.,-9:00 a.m., on weekends.
    Why:“They get rushed as soon as they open.” They’re that good it seems.

Tobago

  • Who: Airport Doubles
    Where: At airport entrance
    Why: “It’s the easiest place to get doubles in the area and it taste good”.

 

  • Who: Patsy’s Doubles
    Where: Scarborough
    Why: “You can get some amazing doubles at anytime of day”.

 

Photo courtesy: Tourism Development Company, Trinidad.

Photographer: Richard Cook

Discuss Doubles Trouble…..

  1. March 25, 2014 at 9:07 am

    channa bhatura is NOT the same as Doubles. Likewise, a Trinidadian of Indo Ancestry, is a Trinidadian. So please give credit where it is due. Mamool Deen didn’t go to India, neither was he aware of Channa Bhatura, so he could not have copied nor plagiarized the Indian concept. Doubles, like Buss Up Shot & Saada Roti, is wholly Trinidadian, like Dhantal . Nonetheless, happy that you are giving added exposure to “Doubles”, indeed the fastest growing “street food” in T&T and thanks to the DEENS.

  2. March 28, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    The term ‘variation’ alludes to the fact that channa bhutara and doubles aren’t the same, but it is similar in taste. Indian dishes in Trinidad are all derived from the cuisine that indentured labourers brought to Trinidad by way of India. So, by extension, many of our dishes are inherently Indian, but with a local spin. The ‘doubles’ part is totally local, and the lack of raw onion and yogurt also makes Trini doubles different as well.

    Both paratha and sada rotis are also variants of the rotis made in India and have been made for a long time. It wouldn’t exist in Trinidad if the Indian labourers didn’t bring their knowledge so man years ago. Punjabi Indians also make paratha the same way we do, they just don’t call it ‘buss up shut’. Only dhalpuri roti can be said, like curried mango, to be solely Trinidadian.

    While the feeling of pride is appreciated, there is a clear indication that the local Indo-Trinidad cuisine is a variation of the initial Indian influences. We should all be proud of our region’s cuisine, but it also means paying homage to its genesis as well.

    In the end, it’s all about love for local cuisine!

  3. March 28, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Really good article, loving the suggestions of the country tour, doubles style! :) Definitely worth trying out different locations – especially the ones in my beloved ‘Bago!

    I think what the author is getting at in the article here is that our “Trini-indian” dishes – whether it’s street food or not – are all variations of some that one would find in India. The knowledge came from somewhere, and that’s with our ancestors. Being Trini’s we have adapted it, and branded it as our own. Nowhere in the article does it state that channa bhatura is the SAME as doubles, the wording used is “Variations”. There’s a huge difference between “same” and “variations”.

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