The Origin of Doubles
The rumour is that doubles began in Princess Town when a barra vendor put two barras together with some channa and sold it. No one started started doubles in Debe rather the vendors started with doubles already founded by someone else. Debe Doubles began sixty five years ago.
According to Harry Persad his Nanny, Barnie Bhoolai and Nana Ramrattan Bhoolai who started making the Indian delicacies. Basdeo Bhoolai started selling them at the markets. Basdeo got married and left to live in St. John’s Road, Avocat. He spoke about Namdeo Singh’s father, Parduman Singh and his mother together with Barnie and Ramrattan Bhoolai who continued the trade until they passed away and handed down the business to their children who are now the current owners.
After interviewing Namdeo Singh I found out that his grandmother sold the first jalebi in Trinidad made from a mixture of honey and spices. She also made sweets like tall boy (something like a twizzler), kurma and ladoo. Singh’s Doubles started with the barra, saheena and kachourie. This barra was sold with chutney. The ingredients for the barra came from urdi which was planted in Trinidad. Singh’s Barra was sold at markets and pay yards; Barrackpore oil field market, Golconda oil field market, Picton oil field market, Hermitage oil field market, Woodland oil field market. Caroni Limited workers would come by train to the market. Workers were paid in cash and were able to pay for their treats of barra on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays which were market days.
They moved from selling at markets to selling at the Debe junction next to a Chinese shop. Patrons bought their doubles on Fridays and Saturdays when they would frequent the Chinese shop. Huts and strips began when the Chinese owner, named Aqui , relative to the late Governor General Solomon Hochoy removed other persons from crowding his area and selling there.
Thirty five years ago they built huts at their homes and began selling their doubles from there . It was the family’s main source of income and it was a generational job as Namdeo’s ( the story teller) mother also sold at The Hummingbird Cinema to earn money to send Namdeo to the prestigious Naparima College by train. The Debe food strip began here at their homes.
Currently, the business is 80 years old and has seventeen workers. It is passionately carried on because of the will to live the legacy of their grandparents. Singh’s Doubles is just one of the many food huts selling Indo Trinidadian fusion food in south Trinidad. It is the most distinguishable hut as it is the only hut that has seating and shelter from the rain for approximately fifteen people or more, it offers clean surroundings, bathroom facilities to customers and quality customer service to all.
Thank you Namdeo Singh for taking the time to share your family’s history with us!