Journalist Sarah Efron explores strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best ethnic food

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Doubles: The best thing to come out of the Caribbean since roti

I recently had the pleasure of discovering doubles: a mini roti/sandwich that is a staple of Trinidadian cuisine. After one bite I was planning a holiday to this magical island that produces this great food.

"It's called doubles because it's made with two skins, two pieces of fried bread called bara," explains Melanie Linton, the owner of Melo's Kitchen, a Trinidadian food stall in Downsview Park Merchants Market.

The fried bread gets its yellow colour from tumeric. Channa, a chickpea curry, is put in between the two pieces of bread. The curry is similar to Indian channa, which was brought to Trinidad by migrant workers. "Trinidad is diverse," explains Melanie. "We are a mix of people from India and Africa."

After bringing out the piping hot doubles, Melanie says, "we're gonna dress it up," in her melodic accent. She offers sweet and spicy condiments such as mango chutney, masala mango, tamarind and shado beni chutney, made from a Caribbean herb.

"At home doubles is a street food," explains Melanie. "Guys on bicycles go around with coolers with channa and all the condiments in it."

In downtown Toronto, you can pick up great doubles (sans condiments) for only $1.50 at Patty King, (187 Baldwin Street), a well-loved take out joint in Kensington that serves legendary Jamaican patties. In Scarborough, I've tried doubles at ACR Hot Roti & Doubles at 2680 Lawrence Ave. East (sadly soggy and most likely microwaved) and at The Roti & Pelau Shop at 15 Lapsley Road (pretty good).

Where else in Toronto has great doubles? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments field below.

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  1. Hey Sarah. The doubles at Drupati on Albion are great. The best part is that they are included with most things you order, for example their equally excellent rotis. The bara (thanks for teaching me the proper word) is so tender.

    Here's a Google map link:

  2. Island Foods!

  3. Thanks for the tips! Drupati looks interesting. I've had Island Foods' roti many times but never tried their doubles.

  4. Ali's West Indian Roti Shop in Parkdale, 1446 Queen Street West also serves up deeelicious doubles. I think they're $1.50 or $2.00. I've had them a few times - super greasy but they hit the spot!

  5. Caribbean Roti Palace at Bloor/Bathurst is where I first discovered doubles. I love the ones they make there; they're always fresh...
    I love their roti too!

  6. Another Albion/Islington joint: Lena's Roti & Doubles makes the best, most flavourful doubles around. The tamarind and cilantro give this the push that makes them the best.