International doubles day – the ultimate street food

This Saturday is International Doubles Day.

South London Press spent time with World Doubles Ambassador, Sham Mahabir, to find out just what the fuss is with doubles.

For those from, or with connections to, the Caribbean, doubles need no explanation. For everybody else, let’s take a minute to introduce this ultimate street food.

Invented in 1930s Trinidad, doubles hold a very special place in the heart of all those from Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), and to this day continue to be sold on street corners all over the islands. A combination of mildly curried chickpeas and flatbread, or channa and bara, as the locals like to call it, topped with fresh grated cucumber, tamarind sauce and pepper sauce.

Sham Mahabir

Simple food, that’s delicious, nutritious, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Protein-packed chickpeas, turmeric and garlic, recognised antioxidants, not forgetting the health properties of coriander, which aids digestion, and chillies, much loved for their power as an anti-inflammatory.

So many events have been cancelled this year but International Doubles Day 2020 will go ahead as planned. Celebrate from the safety and comfort of your own home on 30th May 2020 – with ‘cook it, share it, eat it’, very much the message of this year’s event.

International Doubles Day founder, Sham Mahabir, shares his family recipe, passed down through the generations, for the first time – see below. He wants to see your take on doubles so feel free to share a picture, using #internationaldoublesday, posting on Facebook and Twitter – links are below.

Trinidad born and raised but now a Peckham resident, Sham is a man on a mission – to
share doubles with the world and he thought it might be an idea to begin in London. But
what’s behind his love affair with doubles?


“It goes back to my childhood, when on a Saturday morning, Mum would bring them back for the family with her weekly shop at the market. As I grew older, I came to appreciate their taste and value, but it wasn’t until I got to the UK, 22 years ago, that I realised how much they meant to me and how difficult they were to find here.”

International Doubles day has firm support from the family of Emamool and Rasulan Deen, widely considered to be inventors of the dish. One family member said: “They must be smiling down from the other side to see their humble creation receive international acclaim and recognition 84 years later.” Of Sham, he said: “He’s the Doubles Ambassador of the World.”

Many will recognise Sham from London’s restaurant scene – he was at the helm of 2018/2019’s smash hit pop up restaurant, Limin’, at Old Spitalfields Market. The first T&T restaurant in Zone 1, it brought island flavours, and rum from all over the Caribbean.

As well as serving up delicious home-cooked T&T-inspired food, including doubles, and rum cocktails to the beat of soca music, it offered the experience of ‘liming’ in true T&T style, giving hospitality a new definition.

Sham Mahabir eating Doubles

Opened in October 2018 as a 10-week pop-up but due to huge popularity, Limin’ remained open until summer 2019. It only closed because Old Spitalfields Market had other long-held plans for the site.

Big news – you heard it here first: Limin’ is coming back to London this summer and this time it’s here to stay. Its permanent Central London location will be announced in the very near future. Limin’s return is considered one of London’s hottest dining tickets of 2020.

Sham and his team have been involved with a number of events, including:  Jerk & Beyond – three-day Caribbean festival; Brighton Foodie Festival; Taste of London; Notting Hill Carnival and a weekend take-over of Ibiza Rocks Hotel.

The Government’s message remains #staysafe and #stayhome but that’s not possible for everyone, particularly key workers. If you aren’t home to cook doubles, and you’re anywhere near Fish, Wings & Tings in Brixton – doubles are being created as a daily special on 30th May.

International Doubles Day Social Media
Watch Sham in action:

Sham’s Doubles Recipe
Ingredients (serves 6)

Bara (flatbread)
1 lb self-raising flour
½ tsp turmeric, yeast and salt
½ tbsp sugar

Channa (mild chickpea curry)
2 x 400g chickpeas (tinned or dried)

1 tsp curry powder (optional)
2 tsp turmeric
½ cup chopped onions, spring onions and coriander
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 Scotch bonnet (if desired)
30 ml oil
Salt to taste


Combine all ingredients then add water until dough is soft. Knead and drizzle some oil on top. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes then make into small balls. Flatten on an oiled surface and fry.

Heat oil, add all the ingredients, except the chickpeas. Fry for 5 minutes, adding water, if necessary. Add the chickpeas, stir and add water to cover the chickpeas. Cook on slow to medium heat until tender. Crush chickpeas to make sauce thicker (if desired).

To Serve Spoon three tablespoons of curry onto a flatbread and drizzle with tamarind sauce, fresh grated cucumber and pepper sauce to taste.

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