Caribbean Vegan (The Experiment, 2016) by Taymer Mason makes the colorful flavors of the Caribbean available to vegans, with over 200 authentic recipes straight from the islands. These recipes range from the classic Caribbean dishes to new and inventive recipes cooked up by Mason. The following excerpt is her recipe for Trinidadian doubles, or fritters.
Where can you find a vegan street food so widely available that if you miss one stall another is close by? Trinidad and Tobago, baby! You’re probably wondering, What are doubles, anyway? Doubles are made of two flat and fluffy fritters, called bara, that are stuffed with a hot chickpea stew and occasionally topped with chutney. This Trinidadian street food has made its way to Barbados and several other islands on a smaller scale. Doubles vendors don’t use split pea flour in their bara, but I do, as it adds more nutritional value and gives the fritter a hearty bite.
• 1 1/2 cups (360 milliliters) warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit to 115 degrees Fahrenheit/43 degrees Celsius to 46 degrees Celsius)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
• 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 3 cups (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (60 grams) yellow split pea flour or an additional 1/2 cup (60 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 3/4 teaspoon pink or sea salt
• Canola oil, for frying
• 3 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 onion, finely chopped or sliced into thin crescents
• 6 garlic cloves, pressed
• Two 15.5-ounce (439 grams) cans chickpeas, drained or 3 1/2 cups (765 grams) cooked chickpeas
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pink or sea salt
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 teaspoon Bajan Pepper Sauce, optional
• 1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
• 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 2 cups (480 milliliters) water
• 1 1/2 teaspoons chickpea flour
1. To make the bara, stir the yeast and sugar into the water and let stand for about 15 minutes, until the top is foamy. (If the yeast doesn’t foam, it’s dead or the water was too hot or too cool. You need to start over with fresh yeast.)
2. Put the all-purpose flour, split pea flour, baking powder, curry powder, cumin, and salt in a bowl. Add the yeast mixture and stir until the dough comes together. It should be very soft; don’t be tempted to add any additional flour. Put the dough in a bowl lightly greased with canola oil. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours, until doubled in size
3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the chickpeas, salt, black pepper, optional pepper sauce, curry powder, cumin, cilantro, turmeric, and water. Turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
4. Add the chickpea flour and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.
5. Divide the dough into 24 pieces and form them into small balls; they will be very sticky so as you make them put them on a clean, greased flat surface.
6. Heat 1 1/2 inches (4 centimeters) of oil over medium-high heat and rest the oil after 5 minutes by dropping a piece of the dough into the oil. The oil is ready when the dough sizzles vigorously and browns quickly.
7. With oiled hands, stretch a dough ball. Some holes may form in the dough as you stretch, and that is okay. Gently lower the bara into the hot oil, and, the help ensure you don’t burn yourself, make sure that your two index fingers are the last fingers that leave the bara. Fry each bara using the 5-10-5 rule: 5 seconds on one side, 10 seconds on the other side, and 5 seconds more on the first side. Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels. Oil your hands again, and continue until all of the bara are fried.
8. To assemble the doubles, cut twelve 7-inch (18 centimeters) squares of waxed paper. Place two bara on a piece of waxed paper, overlapping. Top with 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of filling. Bring the two sides of the paper together and wrap the double tightly, securing the wrapping by twisting the ends. To eat the doubles, peel back the paper.
Island Tip: I put my bara in a closed container when they are finished cooking. This makes them softer and more pliable.
Bajan Pepper Sauce
Makes 1 cup (240 milliliters)
This style of pepper sauce is what I grew up eating in Barbados, and this recipe is my personal go-to pepper sauce. The original recipe uses fresh turmeric, but that can be hard to come by. If you can’t find it, you can substitute ground turmeric. Red Scotch bonnet peppers give this sauce its characteristic orange color with red flecks. Pepper sauce is something that some people can handle and others cannot. Start with just a bit and increase the amount gradually until you learn your limit. Because of its flavor and heat, pepper sauce used to be called a meal saver; if people found a dish unappetizing, they would add a bit of pepper sauce to make it more edible. Pepper sauce is used in sandwiches as well as in most soups and stews in Barbados, and it’s almost always offered on the table at local restaurants. In a pinch, you can use Tabasco or another hot sauce in its place, but try to make this sauce. It will give your recipes authentic Caribbean flavor.
• 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) finely grated fresh turmeric, or 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
• 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) American-style prepared mustard
• 3 Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers (seeded if you prefer less spicy)
• 1 onion, coarsely chopped
• 2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
• 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pink or sea salt
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar
1. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.
2. Transfer to a clean jar, seal, and refrigerate. This pepper sauce will keep for as long as 1 year in the fridge.