A touch of Trinidad: Toronto chef recreating the double of her youth
Gabardine sous chef Kyla Rajkumar has teamed up with executive chef Graham Pratt for a new take on a long-time favourite.
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Growing up in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, Kyla Rajkumar recalls stopping for doubles after church on Sunday mornings.
A Trinidadian snack sold by street vendors, doubles are often eaten at breakfast. Made from two baras (fried flat bread) sandwiching a stew of chana (chickpeas), they're eaten on the spot served on parchment paper.
For Kyla, it's the flavour of the jeera (cumin) in the stew mixed with hot sauce that makes “doubles taste like home.”
Once reserved for a quick bite on the street, doubles are turning up increasingly on bar menus across Toronto and at more formal events like Friday Night Live at the ROM. With interest among local chefs growing, Rajkumar — a sous chef at The Gabardine — is working to perfect a recipe with friend, mentor and The Gabardine’s executive chef, Graham Pratt. They plan to host a couple of pop-ups soon.
The pair just got back from a holiday in Trinidad where Rajkumar played food guide.
On a previous trip, she had returned to Canada with baras and chana in her suitcase for Graham to taste, sparking his interest in making a trip of his own.
Growing up in downtown Toronto, he had eaten doubles in Kensington Market, but the taste of the Trinidadian curry was nothing like "generic yellow curry," and he realized he’d “never had doubles before.”
They’ve seen variations with meat and shellfish, but they’re traditionalist and prefer chana. They don't mess with the toppings either. Besides hot sauce, they like tamarind chutney and green sauce, a puree of fresh herbs and garlic.
Kyla, a purist, likes her doubles “slight,” Trinidadian dialect for just a little hot sauce.
As much as she wants to perfect the food of her childhood here in Toronto, Kyla says “we can only come so close, and a part of me doesn’t want to nail it on the head.
“I want the experience in Trinidad to be the best.”
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