I have a love affair with West Indian food. I could eat it for the rest of my life and die a happy woman.
I was first introduced to this amazing cuisine at the age of 11 when I met my best friend, sister and partner in crime Sonia. Born in Trinidad, Sonia moved to Canada when she was a baby. I was instantly charmed by her wittiness, intelligence and mutual interest in serial killers and all things morbid.
Everyday after school we would go back to her house where her mother would shower me with channa, roti, curry and doubles. Her dad’s home made pepper sauce could make a grown man cry and we made a pact that the men we would marry would have to pass the test of eating a spoonful of this fire inducing sauce.
One day I will hold her parents hostage until they reveal to me their family recipes. Until then I’ll continue to study countless recipes and attempt to perfect my own channa, roti and doubles.
For the Dough
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 Tsp. salt
1 Tsp. Saffron powder
½ Tsp. Curry powder
1 Tsp. Cumin
1 Tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tsp. Instant yeast
1/3 cup warm water
¼ Tsp. sugar
Vegetable oil for frying
For the Filling (Curried Channa)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ Tbsp. Trinidadian curry powder (found at any Caribbean grocery, made by ‘Chief’ and ‘Grace)
1 ½ Tsp. Cumin
½ Tsp. salt
1 Tsp. black pepper
1 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed
1 Tsp. Scotch bonnet pepper sauce
In a large bowl combine flour, salt, saffron, curry, cumin and black pepper. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine instant yeast, warm water and sugar and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and add about 2 ½ cups of water until the dough has formed and it is slightly sticky and firm.
Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise for 2 hours.
In the meantime prepare the curried channa.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions on medium high heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
Combine curry powder and ¼ cup of water and pour over onions; stir until they are coated. Add chickpeas and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Sprinkle chickpeas with cumin, salt and pepper and add another cup of water; stir to combine.
Bring curry to a boil. Cover the skillet, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the chickpeas are tender.
Season with pepper sauce and salt and pepper to taste. The curry should be tender and moist. If curry dries out during cooking process add ¼ cup of water. Keep warm.
When the dough has finished rising, punch it down and let it sit for another 15 minutes.
To shape the dough, rip off a piece about a tablespoon in size and flatten it in your palms until it is about 3 inches in diameter.
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet and fry the dough until it becomes puffy; about 10-15 seconds. Carefully flip the dough and cook it for another 10-15 seconds.
Place the bread on a plate lined with paper towel. Keep warm.
To assemble scoop about two tablespoons of channa onto one piece of bread. I topped mine with red cabbage and cilantro but you could also use more pepper sauce, cucumber, or mango chutney. Top with another piece of bread to make a sandwich.
Makes about 8 doubles. Enjoy!