Ok I seriously think I am going into Doubles shock now.
This is the third day in a row, that I’m gorging on this hot, oily chick pea – flour concotion slathered with Coriander(“Chadon Beni”) hot sauce, tamarind sweet chutney and mango kutchela. I think my blood is slowly turning into Chickpea sauce.
Now a new innovation I have discovered is the development of Doubles Automation and outsourcing. One would assume that IBM or Accenture came in here and showed some Powerpoint slides about the cost-benefit analysis of centralizing double production coupled with an revenue graph plotted by sales against time. So after our Saturday night out with the boys – my little brother took to me to the village of El Socorro to see the “Doubles factory”. I was impressed and appalled all the same time .. of course my stomach would have nothing of my brain and I proceed to have the following : 2 baiganis (Fried pies with eggplant in them with chickpeas and chutneys)
Then coupled that with 3 LARGE doubles with tons of hot sauce and chutneys
All within the confines of mass doubles production. Each cooler contains 500 “baras” and they scoop the chick pea mixture from this massive cauldron.
Finding this place is to know it. The location isn’t top secret, but it isn’t common knowledge as yet, but after a couple Angostura 1824’s neat – getting your Doubles fix becomes mandatory. I couldn’t find this place again, if my life depended on it, but thankfully after some liquor, my doubles auto pilot will kick in and it will all be great for steaming hot, fresh doubles.
A different perspective on the Doubles Factory …
It’s half past three in the morning and you’re coming home from liming on the Avenue or at the club. You’re driving up the Churchill Roosevelt Highway highway and you turn off into Aranguez, drive around the roundabout, cross over the flyover and make your way to El Socorro South. Once on El Socorro South road, you park outside an otherwise unremarkable house that you would not notice on any other given day. The gate is slightly open and there does not appear to be any activity or signs of life. You walk into the yard and stroll down the driveway of this house and you find yourself in the midst of the famous El Socorro Doubles Factory! Popular to some, a myth to others, the El Socorro Doubles Factory is one of the oldest, having been started as Seecharan Das Doubles approximately 53 years ago. It has always been owned, run and operated by family members, and has spawned a number of other doubles shops and vendors in and around the area. Now operated mainly by Leela Das, this factory is so called because it mass-produces doubles primarily to supply other doubles vendors.
Every night from 11 pm the process begins and everything is done in the traditional manner, via authentic stoves and by hand. By 1 am doubles are distributed among their wholesale customers who then head out to their respective places of business. The Doubles Factory produces over 1000 doubles per day (or night) to provide stock to at least five different vendors, a much smaller number than they used to provide for in the past. They also provide doubles for special events such as all-inclusive fetes and hotel functions that may require exceptionally large quantities. One such event over the last Carnival season required no less than 7000 doubles. Of course the benefit to actually going to the factory itself is that you get to consume the hottest and freshest doubles you have ever had, BEFORE they go into the cart and reach into the streets. The doubles do have a different taste as the channa is not pre-cooked, pre-boiled, or pressure-cooked but cooked raw, which preserves it better for a longer period of time. The bara is…well, they are just two yellow, fluffy clouds of heaven upon which the channa rest comfortably. The beauty of The Doubles Factory however is definitely the journey and not the destination. It is the fun of the discovery and the unusual setting of eating hot doubles while they are being loaded into carts with a few other fellow doubles aficionados who consider themselves privileged enough to know of the location of this treasure. The next time you are feeling for a late night food adventure, for a taste of something out of the ordinary, I wholeheartedly encourage you to embark on this epicurean quest that will definitely leave you happy and contented. Happy hunting! … from Metro Magazine
Another story of the Doubles Factory (from Trinidad Express)
“Doubles Factory? Where is that?” I was amazed at the term. A doubles connoisseur for all my life, I have never even fathomed the thought of a “factory” much less one opened late in the night and early in the morning. And so it was the wee hours (3 a.m.) on a quiet Thursday morning and my visiting cousins from New Jersey- Priya and Kyron- were telling me about this culinary phenomenon.
“The doubles factory always open. Celebrities, doctors, policemen, limers and almost everybody come to doubles factory for a late night snack. We heard about it through a radio station in New York. We actually checked it out last week after liming on Ariapita Avenue. They cater for after-party clients but the truth is they make their doubles in the late night and wee hours of the morning to supply other vendors who buy wholesale from them!” informed Priya. A doubles factory… Bhara, channa, you name it by the thousands…
I had to see it for myself and so we made our way to El Socorro, a modest house tucked behind a side alley past the Police Station, by the large factories. The aura was still, not a car in sight. I wondered if anyone else was staggering in from a late night lime like us. As we called out to the inhabitants of the house, a man (the watchman I reckoned) advised that we pass through a side gate.
As we drew closer, a nicely organised sitting area and an overlooking kitchen filled with cheerful chatters greeted us. Indian music was playing in the background and three women were working busily- one kneading out dough, the other making some of the neatest pie dough balls and one frying bhara. Basins of channa, steamed melongene, kutchela and other condiments stood before us, steam still rising, they were as hot as the array of mother-in-law pepper sauce on the shelf.
My jaw dropped in surprise at the workshop of activity and the tantalising smell of hot bhara and tasty channa opened my appetite.
“You want doubles, aloo pie or bhaigan pie?” a short woman asked washing her hands of excess dough. “First of all how come women your age still up at this hour in the morning?” I mused assessing the oldest of the women to be in her late 50s.
“Daughter, we accustom to this; we doing this for years. My body condition for this wuk! Is 18 years I working in this place. I does sleep in the day and then by all 10 p.m. we start back work again.” she informed. She introduced herself as Chan John, the best “pie fryer” in Trinidad. I reckoned the mother of two was also one of the best doubles public relations persons in the country as she gave me a tour of the different processes of the humble food business and was eager to show me the ropes in marketing T&T’s most celebrated street food.
“Girl when people go party and come home after is then they does get hungry. Daughter this place always packed. Before allyuh reach a crew of people just leave. All the big soca people does come here. Kees Dieffenthaller — meh boy — he coming here since he young in the music business. And Anya Ayoung Chee does come and eat she one bhara. She is ah model. She doh want to put on weight… And Ravi B does sing, “Dass have de best bhaigan pie, Dass have de best bhaigan pie!’”
It was evident that John enjoyed the company of her clients. “Welcome to Dass Doubles Factory!” a young Indian woman then interjected. “That is meh boss lady, Lata Dass. She grandfather start this place 50-something years ago.”
Dass smiled at her raving intro from her hot-mouthed PRO and mother figure, “My aunt and I run and own the place. She is asleep now. My grandfather, Seecharan Dass pass it down to my mother and father then when my parents died they passed it down to my aunt and me. I have been working here since I was a child,” she enlightened.
“How old are you?” I asked. She seemed the youngest of the group, “I am 23 years old”. Twenty-three years old and Dass had the business savvy of a veteran. She moved busily through the kitchen ensuring that all the tasks were done. “Tell me your doubles story,” I urged and she was happy to take me through her journey. “I never finished school. I used to go to El Dorado Secondary School. And then it happened…” “What? Your doubles epiphany?” I mused. “Well you could call it so. When I was 14 years old Dass Doubles was booming. My father had passed away and my mother was running the business and me and my brother used to work after school. Then one day our main bhara thrower got into an accident and I had to learn the skill in a weekend and start taking up the role. That was when I became a real part of the business. My mother say, ‘Chile is either you leave school and throw bhara or yuh get out the house!’ My mother was a serious business woman. I was upset then but eventually I realised that doubles was my calling. I love what I do and trust meh, I does do it good!”
A rich legacy passed down from generation to generation. I wasn’t amazed by this but the term bhrara thrower? “You see this basin of bhara dough? Some people have to ball out the bhara on a table and then open them out and put them to fry. But I am a skilled bhara thrower. I cut down the time by doing it (throwing it) into the oil straight from the basin,” the skilled woman demonstrated. “Yes you see skill? It looking easy but it hard daughter,” chirped John in background.
Indeed I was getting a crash course in doubles 101 while my cousins were on their second and third aloo pie, doubles and bhaigan pie. Bhaigan pie. Hmmmm… “ We have dhal pie too,” added Dass. Dhal pie? “Yes is just bhara made from split peas and a little bit of flour. It does eat real good,” continued John the pie expert. In the midst of the lively discussion and sizzling sound of hot oil, I had actually forgotten about the third member of the Dass cast, Meena Ramlochan, who was consumed by her tasks and engrossed in the Bollywood ballads coming from the small radio in the kitchen. She seemed shy; her pleasant personality did all the talking. “They seem so happy,” commented Priya satisfied by a great meal and great conversation. “They are the best yes. This is why I does I does miss my sweet country!” quipped Kyron.
And so it was about that time, the time for me to sample the product. Admiring the nice décor of photos on the wall- Dass’ mother decorated by a garland, a photo with Kees and John, a photo with Ravi B eating a bhaigan pie- I braced myself for the spicy treats. “You want mango chutney, tambran chutney, bun pepper, cucumber choka or mango kutchella? Oh and yes, we have mother-in-law too!” I opted for chutney and slight pepper as I sank my teeth into a bhaigan pie. Bhaigan pie. A sister to the bhaigani pie with just a slice of melogene fried with the dough, the cousin to the aloo pie, it was a delicious dream. Only then I understood why the celebrities came. I understood why my cousins were addicted and were determined to not pass this stop while driving eastward up the Churchill Roosevelt Highway. I understood why the women were so happy and friendly- wrinkle and stress free despite sleepless nights: they enjoyed what they did, and most of all the people enjoyed what they ate. A perfect symbiosis wrapped in a doubles story.
“You open for Divali?” I asked anticipating some tasty food to celebrate the festive celebration of lights. “Nah we doh work for Divali. We is Hindus girl. You must take time for your God,” John declared.
Some laughter later, my cousins and I departed the hidden gourmet restaurant in the middle of nowhere in El Socorro. I thanked the ladies for their hospitality and I vowed to return. I had to tell the world about the doubles factory. You can’t be a diehard doubles fanatic if you didn’t know or tasted the offerings from this establishment!
Where is the location of the Doubles Factory?
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