Healthier Trini Style Gluten Free Doubles Bara
Updated: Jun 11
Doubles is the most popular street food in Trinidad and Tobago. It's a light and puffy turmeric dough (bara), fried and served with mildly curried channa (chickpeas) and various chutneys. Messing with doubles is considered a punishable offense by the many self proclaimed zealots. Every visitor is enthusiastically encouraged to taste doubles, dissent is not recommended
This is my recipe for doubles bara not the channa filling. The bara is soft and has the “chewiness” of regular bara. Truth be told this bara is healthier since it features oat flour and urdi dhal.
To all you connoisseurs out there my recipe is not intended to replace the real thing. However it's an answer for the many of us who tragically have lived in doubles exile and want to be included. So, are we all good now?
1 cup oat flour ½ tbsp ground urdi dhal 1/3 tsp xanthan gum ¼ tsp turmeric 1 tsp yeast 2 tsp baking powder ¼ tsp salt ¼ tsp brown sugar
½ – ¾ cup water (add more by tablespoon)
Oil for frying
Tapioca starch for shaping the dough*
*another finely ground flour or starch will work
(See the note below for an alternate method)
Combine all of the dry ingredients, mix well. Add water to form a sticky dough (this might be more than stated in the recipe). Break the dough (bara) into smaller pieces about 2 tablespoons each. The bara will be sticky and difficult to work with initially. Keep your hands dusted with tapioca starch or form the rounds on a surface that has been dusted with the tapioca. Do not add more flour to the dough, it must be sticky. I also do not recommend working with oiled hands, the dough will absorb some of that oil affecting the quality of the cooked bara. Set the bara rounds aside on a lightly oiled surface to rest for a while, 30 minutes or so. Cover with oiled or non stick surface. For a better flavor and a softer bara, you can let the rounds slow rise in the refrigerator overnight.
When the dough is ready, prepare a pot with oil for deep frying, the oil must be hot before starting! Before rolling out the bara, dust your hands and the work surface with tapioca starch. Flatten a piece of bara with our fingers to 3-4” round. The bara is delicate but workable once your surface is properly dusted. Working on parchment paper or a silpat mat is a great help. In this case you will flatten the dough and when you are ready raise one edge of the pachment or silpat mat to flip the dough onto your hand. Carefully place the bara into the hot oil. The bara will get air bubbles immediately as it hits the oil, when this happens flip the bara to the other side. The bara takes less than a minute to cook, bubbling and floating are sure signs that the bara is cooked. Drain on a paper towel and move at once to a plate, bowl etc. lined with a tea towel (kitchen towel). Keep it wrapped and covered. In between each bara I use parchment paper to prevent the bara from sticking together. The stacking of the bara contributes to the floppiness we expect from doubles. The bara is best served warm.
I'm putting this at the very end because I know that most of us prefer quick and easy recipes. I have not tested every variation possible and I know this recipe will evolve and improve over time. In the meantime I have tried the yukone or tangzhong method of scalding flour with success. The ingredients are the same, there is just an additional step in the directions. This method is meant to improve the texture of the dough making it softer, perfect for our gluten free vegan doubles bara!
The Yukone or Tangzhong Method
Before putting the dough together, measure out 1/4 cup of the oat flour. To that add an equal amount of water. Whisk until smooth, if the mixture is thick like bread batter add more water, it should be pourable at this stage. In a small skillet heat this mixture until it forms a thick paste, this time to the consistency of bread batter. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Continue with the recipe as stated, adjust the flour to 3/4 cup and add the yukone with the wet ingredients, adjust the amount of water as needed.