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Doubles is a common street food in Trinidad and Tobago. It is a sandwich made with two bara (flat fried bread) filled with chana (curried chick peas). Topped with mango, shadon beni, cucumber, coconut, tamarind, and extra pepper sauce (ranging from a dash "slight" to much more), this delicacy is the most popular fast food in Trinidad and Tobago. It is usually eaten for breakfast, and sometimes lunch, but can be a late night snack as well. Popular doubles venues are Sleepy's Doubles at St. Helena Junction, Deen's Doubles in San Juan, Ali's Doubles in San Fernando, Sauce Doubles in Curepe, and Johnny's Doubles in La Romaine and Golconda.
Bara is made of flour, baking powder, salt, and ground turmeric (which give it its yellow color). It is flattened to a thin round disk about 5 to 8 centimeters in diameter and fried until golden brown. The bara is then filled with the chana ready to be sold.
The origins of this food began in Trinidad by the Deen family, Emamool Deen (a.k.a. Mamoodeen) and his wife Rasulan in 1936 in Princes Town. When Mamudeen started the business the products he sold were fried channa wrapped in cone-shaped packs. He diversified his product line soon after by adding boiled and fried chana, then curried channa with chutney. He then introduced a single bara with the curried channa. His customers would ask him to double the bara, hence the name "doubles" evolved and Deen's Doubles became the pioneering brand.
As the demand for Deen's Doubles increased, Mamoodeen employed his two brothers-in-law, Asgar Ali and Choate Ali to sell Deen's Doubles in 1937. The Ali brothers launched their own Ali's doubles brand in 1938. Asgar Ali chose San Fernando for his sales district and Naparima College in particular as his historical starting point. Choate Ali remained in Princes Town while Mamudeen expanded to San Juan and Port of Spain.
One of Mamoodeen's sons, Shamaloo Deen, later sold Deen's Doubles in his restaurant Deen's Diner on Marion Street, St. Boniface, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Most of the chana consumed in Trinidad is grown on the prairies of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. On June 25, 2001, Shamaloo sold the Marion Street restaurant and returned to Trinidad to promote Deen's doubles.
Some culinary historians plausibly assume that doubles evolved from the Indian dish chole bhature (also called chana bhatura), which is a combination of chole (chana masala), spicy chick peas and the bhature (poori), a fried puffy bread made of maida flour which is used in the making of Indian pastries, bread and biscuits.
Chole bhature is a dish served with onions and achar and commonly eaten in northern India. It is served with one large bhature which is eaten like chapati to scoop up the chole and not presented as a sandwich, like doubles. The taste difference between chole bhature and doubles is distinctive as the bara is made from all-purpose flour and spices, and Trinidadian curries and chutneys have evolved with their own unique taste characteristics.
Vendors sell doubles out of a box. Mamoodeen, the pioneer of doubles, was the first to build a wooden box, painted yellow, to fit his freight bicycle from which he sold doubles. When automobiles and doubles depots replaced bicycles, the box remained, to preserve the original sales image. A few vendors fry their baras in makeshift kitchens in the back of pickup trucks; the channa however, continues to be produced in their home-based kitchens.