"The Doubles story (illustrated through wonderful black-and-white photography), along with the account of a family struggling with alcohol abuse and domestic violence, makes for compelling reading."--Kirkus Reviews.
"...by describing how Doubles, a common street food became a delicacy to all Trinbagonians, regardless of race,class or colour, Out of the Doubles Kitchen perceives in MamooDeen's life and career, a transcendent example of the birth and growth of Trinbagonian nationality that is almost as beloved as carnival itself."--Dr. Frank Birbalsingh--Professor Emeritus, York University, Toronto.
"The story of doubles becomes a parable /metaphor /metonym for the journey of the determined Indo-Trinidadians for whom 'necessity became [a] catalyst for invention and creativity' allowing them to escape their 'prison of poverty.' ...this is a valuable book, which every Trinidadian would benefit from reading, and which historians would find especially valuable."--Dr. Raymond Ramcharitar--Literary journalist, Trinidad Guardian.
“A spirited defense of the creation of the Trinidad Doubles industry interwoven with a personal memoir of the journey from the Doubles kitchen to corporate life. Held together by tracing the seeds of rejection and the struggle to overcome. Honest and very readable.”─Ken Boodhoo PhD. Emeritus Professor, Florida International University. Author of The Elusive Eric Williams and Eric Williams: The Man and the Leader.
“A trailblazing work that will help to create a greater appreciation of the East Indians’ contribution to the development of Trinidad and Tobago; a contribution that is also having ripple effects across the diaspora.”─H.E. Mr. Chandradath Singh, High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago to India, Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Bangladesh.
"It's an important contribution to our history and our evolution as a people. Well written."--T&T Cabinet Minister Dr. Suruj Rambachan.
Informative, educational, and inspiring, Out of the Doubles Kitchen is a fascinating memoir of the first family of Doubles ─ the number one street food of Trinidad and Tobago. The book traces the evolution of this business from being “poor-people-food” to a multimillion-dollar industry. The family’s struggles in introducing this new ethnic food to a diverse population are vividly narrated. The author engagingly recounts his family’s experiences with the social hurdles of abject poverty, illiteracy, alcoholism, domestic abuse, shame, race and class. His writing transports the reader back to Trinidad when its plural society was in its infancy. The book is also a remarkable testament to the extraordinary legacy left by the author’s father. In addition to documenting the history of his family's creation of Doubles, the book is a deeply personal memoir of the author's own journey from the Doubles Kitchen to the American Dream. This motivational memoir also leaves the reader salivating for a taste of Doubles.
How ‘MamooDeen’ made ‘Doubles’
T&T’s top street food
Badru Deen, Out of the Doubles Kitchen: A Memoir of the First Family of Doubles The Number One Street Food of Trinidad &Tobago, Miami, Caritrade Inc., 2013, pp.239 ISBN 06158555369 ISBN 13: 9780615855363.
A review by Dr. Frank Birbalsingh--Professor Emeritus, York University, Toronto, Canada.
Out of the Doubles Kitchen: A Memoir of the First Family of Doubles The Number One Street Food of Trinidad & Tobago consists of a biography of the author’s father Emamool Deen (aka Mamoo Deen) (1917-1979) together with Badru’s memoir of his extended family with special focus on his father’s creation and marketing of Doubles, and Badru’s own career in Banking, Human Resource Management, Marketing and Sales in Canada, Trinidad and the US. The aim of the book is to explain Mamoo Deen’s mission: “which was not motivated by maximising profit but charitably driven to feed poor people like himself with a low-cost, high-protein, nutritious, vegan street food that was within their meager means.” It was also: “to spread the spirit of entrepreneurship with his [Mamoo Deen’s] Doubles business, which for him represented a celebration of struggle and triumph over an oppressive system.”
The oppressive system was British colonialism, for Mamoo Deen and his wife Rasulan grew up, between World Wars One and Two, in the British colony of Trinidad & Tobago, where they were direct descendants of Indians who had first arrived as indentured, agricultural workers on British-owned plantations, in 1845. Badru sees his parents as “subsistence peasants” who: “radically and innovatively escaped their social circumstances in ... an act of resistance against the [British colonial] economic system of labor exploitation, subservience and poor living conditions.”
“Chapter 3: The Origin of Doubles” gives Badru’s authoritative account, based on research and interviews with Mamoo Deen’s contemporaries, of the circumstances out of which Doubles emerged. One ingredient, chickpeas (or “chana” in Hindi), was soaked overnight and fried the next day in onions, garlic, salt and hot peppers before being packed in small funnel-shaped, brown paper packets to be sold as a dry snack. In time, Mamoo Deen and Rasulan began to boil and curry the chick peas and sell it as wet, spicy “chana” out of an enamel pot which was carried in a basket.
Mamoo Deen and Rasulan separately sold another Indian delicacy, “bara,” consisting of flour, turmeric, salt and ground mung beans. Thus Doubles was not planned or envisaged in advance but came, like many of the best inventions, in a moment of inspired revelation. Badru explains: “In a Eureka moment, Mamoo Deen decided to incorporate his curried “chana” on a similar single “bara” with chutneys.” The combination was so successful that satisfied customers requested an extra or “double bara,” and it was this manoeuvre of placing wet, spicy, curried chick peas between two “baras,” like a sandwich, that heralded the happy “invention” of Doubles.
The problem was that, in colonial Trinidad, in the 1930s, Badru’s parents: “did not have the legal knowledge to protect their intellectual property.” Since Doubles attracted other producers who claimed credit for its creation, Badru writes: “This memoir [Doubles Kitchen] of the first family of Doubles should finally put to rest the factual inaccuracies of the origin of Doubles in Trinidad and Tobago.” Doubles Kitchen diligently documents Mamoo Deen’s energy and improvisation in marketing his invention, while his Doubles Freight carrier and Doubles Box with individual compartments for chana, baras, chutneys and wrapping paper exhibit his amateur engineering skills in targeting distant locations, especially schools which provided a “captive clientele” throughout the villages and towns in Indian-dominated Southern Trinidad.
This illustrates the courage and persistence necessary to prevail against the ethnic and class stigma that ridiculed Doubles as coolie street food, for example, the refrain: “Coolie, coolie come for roti; all de roti done.” In colonial Trinidad just after World War Two, when Mamoo Deen moved to a Northern district like San Juan he saw the ethnic problem clearly: “Here [San Juan] an illiterate Indian family was surrounded by middle class Afro-Trinidadians who spoke proper English and wore neckties.”
Mamoo Deen is also portrayed as someone who prized his individuality: “He [Mamoo Deen] believed that being one’s own boss was the greatest achievement for a man.” He flaunted his self-taught skills in music and Indian film songs, and played the harmonium and other Indian instruments such as the “dholak” (drum) and “dhantal” (percussion.) Yet all this went hand in hand with the alcoholism and domestic abuse prevalent in rural Indian-Trinidadian society at the time. Although a strong family man, Mamoo Deen had frequent outbursts of temper when he drank, often brutally beating his children and sometimes his wife. Occasionally, he also engaged in frightening physical confrontations with neighbours when the cutlass was the weapon of choice.
These shenanigans are unsparingly acknowledged by Badru who attributes much of it to the: “indenture system of subservience [that] denied the laborers – especially the males – their self pride, their self esteem and even their manhood.” For all that, after due consideration, Badru still sees his father as a man who started marriage with: “a pair of chickens , a goat and a bicycle” and, through his adventurous, pioneering spirit, and irrepressible instinct for improvisation and innovation, achieved lasting renown as the authentic creator of: “a delicious, substantial, and complete vegan meal for the man on the go.”
At one level, Doubles Kitchen reveals rare and candid insight into Trinidad’s ethnic structure, and into the solid agricultural grounding of Indian-Trinidadians, at least up to the first half of the twentieth century. At another level, we detect foresight in identifying an entrepreneurial penchant for business that provided even illiterate Indian-Trinidadians (and Indian–Guyanese), with an opportunity to make their mark on the Caribbean scene where they were relative late-comers. Most importantly, by describing how doubles, a common street food, became a delicacy to all Trinbagonians, regardless of race, class or colour, Doubles Kitchen perceives in Mamoo Deen’s life and career, a transcendent example of the birth and growth of Trinbagonian nationality that is almost as beloved as carnival itself(
(Out of the Doubles Kitchen is available in both print and eBook formats from Amazon.com)
Out of the Doubles Kitchen