This incredible "Doubles" recipe from Trinidad and Tobago made it to my top 5 favorite meals of all the dishes I've cooked so far since I started this project in April 2010. Partly because it's unique, delicious and captures the smells and flavors of this beautiful West Indian country, but also, because of the generosity of friends who helped make it possible. Props to: Gary Ottley, photographer extraordinaire (check out his site if you want to be inspired) for taking time out of his busy schedule to share favorite dishes from his country of origin; to Eric Ackerson, whose My Hungry Tum professional, international food blog (started way before mine and should be a book) for sharing his tamarind hot sauce recipe; to Ben, my husband's best friend my foodie soul-mate, for snagging a bag of tamarind, delivering it to my house and showing me how to peel (and eat) it; to my Facebook friends who passed on leads to various stores and food sources; and, last but never least, to my awesome husband and sons for always supporting my on-going journey. It's a diverse and spicy world we live in, and all of you make it that much sweeter - much love.
Cuisine in Trinidad and Tobago has it's roots in Spanish, French, British, Amerindian, African, Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern and Portuguese traditions. Therefore, traditional African stews, one-pot dishes, pelau, macaroni pie, plantain, callaloo and chicken and red beans are all part of the interesting and rich cuisine enjoyed on the islands. Creole traditions include oxtail soup, beef soup and cowheel soup. Curries and fish dishes of all kinds are popular, including two of my favorites, curried goat and duck. Loved by all (even here in the U.S.) is roti and the unofficial national breakfast, "Doubles", so named because 2 pieces of barra (bread) are always served with the chickpea filling and chutney. Still other foods that can be found include: bake and shark, pepper sauce, fruit chows, souse, chip-chip, conch and wild meat. Lastly, all kinds of tropical fruits such as coconut, mango, pineapple and papaya (to name but a few), round out this country's wonderful offerings.
Doubles Barra Dough
This dough is meant to be sticky, so don't panic! Let rise until doubled in bulk
Barra rolled into 32 balls - let rise another 10-15 minutes
Roll out - this was a little tricky because the dough was so sticky and quite elastic
Fried up to golden perfection - this is one of those things that you get better at with practice
Channa, chickpea filling - I used canned chickpeas because I ran out of time :)
Cooked down until nice and soft, but not too mushy
Cucumber Chutney - I used Persian cucumbers which are seedless and don't require peeling
Julienned and grated cucumbers
Tamarind for Eric's Hot Sauce - these are tricky and sticky to work with, but delicious
I used mango orange juice because that's what I had, but plain OJ or grapefruit works well too
Layer the chutney on chickpeas, then top with hot sauce ....... West Indian awesomeness
Barra (recipe courtesy of Amazing-Trinidad-Vacations.com) - Step 1
This recipe makes approximately 36 barra (18 doubles)
4 cups - all purpose flour
2 teaspoons - saffron powder
1 teaspoon - ground geera (cumin, preferable roasted)
3 teaspoons - yeast
½ teaspoon - sugar
1 teaspoon - salt (adjust to taste)
Cranola oil for frying
- Put 1 cup of lukewarm water in a small bowl, add sugar and sprinkle with yeast. Then leave mixture until it swells to twice its size.
- Combine flour, salt, saffron and geera in a large bowl.
- Add yeast to flour mixture along with 1¼ cups of water and mix into slightly firm dough. Mix well but try to handle dough as little as possible, cover and let it rise to double its size, then form dough into 36 small balls and then let rise for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Take a ball of the barra dough and pat into a flattened 4-inch circle with both hands. If the dough sticks to your hands dampen hands with water. Fry immediately after shaping in hot oil, turning once. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool to room temperature.
1 (16oz) can - channa (chick peas or garbanzo beans)
1 teaspoon - ground coriander
1 tablespoon - ground geera (cumin, preferably roasted)
2 tablespoons - cranola oil
1 small - onion
4 cloves - garlic
2 tablespoons - chive
½ teaspoon - turmeric powder ½ teaspoon each - salt and black pepper (adjust to taste)
- Dice onion, garlic and chive, keeping each separate.
- Put oil in a pot along with finely chopped onion and saute on medium heat until onion begins to caramelize.
- Add all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Add enough water to cover channa by about 1½ inches, and then boil channa until it's very soft. Depending on the type of pot you use, and how often you remove the lid to stir, you may need to add water during this process. When you are finished cooking there must be some liquid left in pot, don't let it dry out.
There are a variety of sauces and chutneys that can be used to spice up the basic Trinidad Doubles recipe, the most common of these are made from shadow benne, hot pepper, mango, tamarind, cucumber, and coconut. Try this Cucumber Chutney to add an extra dimension to your doubles...
1 large - cucumber
1 tablespoon - shadow beni (cilantro)
1 tablespoon - chives
1 - scotch-bonnet pepper (habanero pepper)
4 cloves - garlic
2 teaspoon - fresh Caribbean lime juice
½ teaspoon each - salt and black pepper (adjust to taste)
¼ teaspoon - brown sugar
- Julienne ¾ of cucumber into relatively small pieces. Cucumber seed and skin can be removed if you choose. We leave about a ¼ of skin to add color to chutney. Grate remainder of cucumber and add to mixture, which adds moisture to chutney.
- Finely dice garlic, cilantro and chives and add to mix.
- Finely dice pepper without touching it if possible, you don't want to inadvertently get this pepper in, or near, your eye.
- Gradually add the diced pepper to mix until it is spicy enough for your taste. Optionally, you may leave out some, or all, of the pepper, and use a tasty Caribbean pepper sauce to add the level of spice you desire when preparing individual Doubles.
Tamarind Hot Sauce (Recipe Courtesey of Eric Ackerson) - Step 4
1 peeled carrot
2-3 hot peppers (not deseeded)
1 tablespoon of vinegar
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup orange or grapefruit juice
5 whole tamarind pods peeled and deseeded or about 1/8 cup of tamarind pulp
Whirl that food processor till everything has reached a nice consistency and then allow 1/2 hour for the flavors to meld.
Trinidad Doubles - Final Step
With all the elements prepared, it is now time for the last step in the assembly of your Trinidad Doubles recipe. On a plate, place 2 barra side-by-side but overlapping slightly. Now, add a tablespoonful of channa and a liberal garnish of cucumber chutney, then finally, a drizzle of Trinidad pepper sauce to create the level of spiciness you desire. Enjoy.
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