Trinidad doubles is by far the most popular street food in T&T. It is most often enjoyed for breakfast but you can find a doubles vendor anytime, day or night.
Here’s how to make your own Trini doubles from scratch. If you’re here just for the recipe and not the lime, use the skip to recipe link above.
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What is Trini doubles
Doubles is a popular vegan street food that consists of two soft, yellow, flat, deep-fried dough called bara with a runny, flavorful chickpea topping (called doubles channa). Additional toppings like cucumber chutney, pepper sauce, roasted pepper sauce, sweet tamarind sauce, mango sauce, chadon beni sauce, and coconut chutney can also be added.
When buying doubles from a street vendor, you can request the number of doubles and what toppings you prefer.
My doubles order is usually “Two with sweet sauce, no pepper” meaning two doubles with channa and a spoon full of sweet tamarind sauce. Hubby’s order is often “Three with slight bandhania, plenty pepper, and some sweet sauce” meaning three doubles with a hint of chadon beni (aka bandhania) sauce, a lot of pepper sauce and a spoonful of tamarind sauce.
If you’re a foreigner or don’t like pepper, you should know there is nothing mild about Trini pepper and roasted pepper sauces so if you cannot handle spicy food, it is best to tell the doubles vendor no pepper.
One other thing, most doubles vendors move fast when making orders so they often use the same spoon for most of the condiments. That means you could end up with some bitterness in your doubles even though you asked for sweet sauce only.
Also, ordering sounds something like this:
- Doubles with no pepper – which tells the doubles man to leave the pepper spoon alone.
- Doubles with slight – meaning less than a spoonful of the condiment you asked for
- Doubles with – meaning a full spoonful of the condiment you requested
- Doubles with plenty – meaning a lot of the topping
- Triple – meaning three baras instead of two
Doubles is served on wax paper and is often eaten on the spot, roadside with your hands. After eating one doubles, you can signal to the vendor to have another and pay after when you are full.
If you are taking away the doubles, the vendor usually rolls the wax paper up and places them in a brown paper bag.
How to eat doubles
To eat doubles, you lay the wax paper on one open palm and use the fingers of your free hand to lift the bara to your mouth. Or you can use your fingers to break a piece of the bara and scoop up some chickpeas before placing in your mouth.
Here’s Jadee on Foodie Nation enjoying a Curepe doubles on the spot:
Now, let’s get into making our own doubles.
Trinidad doubles ingredients
To make Trini doubles at home, you’ll need ingredients to make the bara, channa, and sauces. In this post, I’ll go through making the bara and channa only. For the other condiments, check out these posts on cucumber chutney for doubles and tamarind sauce.
To make Trini doubles bara, you will need:
- all purpose flour
- yeast: acts as a raising agent for the dough.
- sugar: helps with activating the yeast.
- turmeric powder: adds that characteristic yellow color to the bara.
- ground bandhania: also called chadon beni or culantro. You can find these at your local Asian and Caribbean supermarkets or on Amazon.
- water: for kneading
- oil: for frying
For a more filling, slightly chewy bara, you can add ground urdi to the dough. Find my urdi bara recipe here.
To make Trinidad doubles channa, you will need:
- channa or chickpeas: I usually use dried chickpeas for my recipes but you can skip the soaking and pressure cooking and use the canned chickpeas instead. Be sure to rinse the peas a few times before cooking.
- dhal or yellow split peas: again, I use dried split peas for this recipe. If you are using canned chickpeas, you can probably boil the dhal separately before making the doubles channa.
- baking soda: adding baking soda when soaking the dried chickpeas softens their skin which helps the peas to rehydrate faster.
- chadon beni: this is the backbone flavor in Trinidadian cuisine. It adds great, sharp, herbaceous flavor to the dish. You can find this at Caribbean supermarkets or on Amazon.
- garlic: further adds to the sharp flavors of the channa.
- pepper: fresh pepper like pimento and scotch bonnet peppers are preferred here but any type of pepper you have on hand will work for this dish.
- geera or cumin powder: this adds wonderful roasted flavors.
- amchar masala powder: another great addition to the taste.
- turmeric powder: as with the bara, turmeric adds that characteristic yellow color to the channa.
How to make bara for Trinidad doubles
Step 1: To a large bowl, add the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, yeast, salt and turmeric powder. Mix well to evenly distribute everything.
Step 2: Next, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the ground chadon beni and half of the warm water. Knead and continue adding a little water at a time.
Step 3: You’ll want to form a very soft, smooth dough. At that point, coat the dough with some oil (about a teaspoon). This prevents the dough from drying out and forming a ‘skin’.
Step 4: Cover the dough and set aside in a warm spot to rest for an hour or so.
Step 5: After the time, coat your hands with some oil and divide the dough into 20 parts. Roll them into dough balls and place on an oiled baking tray. Cover and set aside.
How to make thin bara
Step 6: Add a large pot to the stove on medium-high heat. Leave for a few minutes to heat up and then add enough oil for deep frying – two cups of oil should be fine. Allow the oil at least five to ten minutes to heat up.
Step 7: Once, you’ve divided the dough, spread about a teaspoon of oil onto a flat surface like your countertop. Coat your hands too.
Step 8: Remove one dough ball from the tray. Press down and out to spread the dough as thin as possible. If a couple holes form, that’s perfectly fine. Make sure the edges are stretched out and have the same even thinness. It should be somewhat rounded in shape but it does not have to be perfect.
Step 9: Lift the stretched bara and place in very hot oil.
How to fry doubles bara
Step 10: Once the stretched bara is added to the oil, it will puff and float almost immediately. Flip over as soon as it floats. I’m talking about 2 seconds here – do not wait for much longer. Once flipped, wait another second or two then remove the bara from the oil. It is fully cooked at this point.
Step 11: Place the fried bara on paper towels in an airtight container and cover to trap the heat and steam. Straight out of the oil, the bara will be crispier. But, the covered bara, after trapping the heat and steam, will be pillow-soft and fluffy.
Step 12: Repeat the process for all the other dough balls. You could stretch out a few at a time since frying is so fast.
Now, let’s get into the doubles channa.
How to make channa for Trini doubles
I have an entire post dedicated to making doubles channa that you can check out. But, I’ll also summarize it here.
I used dried chickpeas so soaking is required. But you can use canned chickpeas and skip the soaking steps. I also pressure cooked the peas so it finished quickly.
Soaking the channa
Step 13: Place the channa in a large bowl, removing any odd or bad peas. Wash the peas several times until the water runs clear. Fill the bowl with water. Mix in the baking soda and cover. Set aside for the channa to rehydrate overnight (or at least 8 hours).
Step 14: In a smaller bowl, add the yellow split peas. Remove any bad peas and rinse a couple of times, again until the water runs clear. Then, half fill the bowl with water, cover and set aside (baking soda is not needed here).
Step 15: Once rehydrated, the chickpeas should more than double in size. Drain the water for both the chickpeas and yellow split peas and rinse several times.
Pressure cook the peas
Step 16: Add the rinsed and drained peas to the pressure cooker with the water, salt and baking soda. Place on the stove on high heat and cover to allow the cooker to pressurize. Once steam flows out of the top, reduce the heat to low and place the cooker’s weight.
Step 17: Leave to pressure cook for 15 minutes. By the way, I love my Hawkins pressure cooker! I use it for all my peas and beans recipes.
Add all the other flavors
Step 18: After pressure cooking for fifteen minutes, remove from the heat and allow the cooker to depressurize. Once fully depressurized, remove the weight and cover.
Step 19: Place back on the stove on low heat. Add all the other ingredients like chopped chadon beni, garlic, pepper, turmeric, cumin powder and amchar masala powder.
Step 20: Cook for another 5 minutes. Crush several of the chickpeas for a thicker consistency. Taste test and adjust the flavors to your liking. Serve with your hot bara and favorite doubles toppings.
Making Trinidad doubles
Step 21: Place two bara on wax paper or a plate with one slightly offset from the other. This is often done so the channa is covered by the second bara when wrapping the doubles for takeaway.
Step 22: Add a large spoonful of the doubles channa over the bara. And, on top of the channa, add your favorite toppings. I didn’t add any here but you can add homemade pepper sauce and some chadon beni sauce.
That’s it! Now enjoy this delicious street food with your fingers.
Are Trini doubles vegan
Yes they are. The bara in the doubles contains yeast but that does not disqualify Trini doubles from being vegan. The chickpeas and condiments are all plant based.
How to make Trinidad doubles
Trinidad doubles (bara and channa)
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground chadon beni
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ cups warm water
- oil for coating, rolling out the dough and frying
- 1 cup dried channa (chickpeas)
- ¼ cup dhal (yellow split peas)
- ¾ tsp baking soda (¼ tsp for soaking; ½ tsp for cooking)
- water for soaking
- 3 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- 10 chadon beni leaves (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp pepper (fresh or powdered, adjust to taste)
- ½ tsp cumin or geera powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp amchar masala powder
- 3 cups water
- Pressure cooker
- Add flour, yeast, sugar, salt and turmeric to a large bowl. Mix to combine.
- Add ground chadon beni and ¾ cup of warm water. Mix.
- Continue adding a little warm water at a time while kneading to form a soft, smooth dough.
- Coat the dough with oil (about 1 tsp of oil). Cover and rest for 1 hour.
- Oil a baking tray and rub your hands with oil.
- After the hour, divide the dough into 12 equal parts. Roll into small dough balls and place on the prepped tray. Cover and set aside.
- Place a large pot on medium to high heat. Leave to heat up. Add enough oil for deep frying (about 2 cups) and allow to get very hot.
- Coat your flat working surface with a teaspoon of oil. Coat your hands too.
- Place one dough ball on the oiled surface. Press down and out to spread out the dough as thin as possible, making sure the edges are thin and uniform (holes are normal).
- Lift the bara and place in very hot oil.
- Flip over when it floats (about 2 seconds after adding it to the oil). Flip again within 2 seconds.
- Remove from oil. Place on paper napkins in an airtight container or cooler. Cover to trap the heat, which will cause it to soften.
- Repeat for all other dough balls.
- Check dried chickpeas and yellow split peas. Remove any bad peas. Wash until the water runs clear.
- Add chickpeas to a large bowl filled with water. Mix in 1/4 tsp baking soda. Cover and set aside to plump up (about 8 hours).
- Add split peas to a small bowl filled with water. Cover and set aside.
- Drain water after the soaking time. Rinse repeatedly until the water runs clear.
- Add rinsed channa and dhal to a pressure cooker with 3 cups water, 3 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp baking soda.
- Cover and place on high heat until steam escapes from the top. Add the weight. Reduce heat to low and pressure cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat, depressurize completely and remove the weight and lid.
- Place the opened pressure cooker back on low heat.
- Mix in chopped chadon beni, garlic, pepper, geera or cumin powder, amchar masala and turmeric.
- Cook for 5 more minutes. Taste test and adjust salt, pepper and spices to your taste.
- Place two bara on wax paper or a plate with one slightly offset from the other.
- Pour a spoonful of channa over the bara.
- Add your favorite toppings.
- Serve hot.