Bara and Channa (Doubles)

Yes Bara and Channa: the original street food of Trinidad. I soon learnt on my first trip to Trini, not to buy Bara and Channa from just anyone!

My Dad and I still laugh about it to this day how we would drive 45 minutes away from my Uncle’s home, in the south, to buy fresh bara (bread) and channa (chick-pea) from a middle aged lady who made it straight from her isolated hut, passing many other vendors along the way. This lady’s bara was made right before our dry eyes and watering lips rather than fried beforehand and left to steam in a hot pan waiting for the first customer. The best bara is slightly crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle with a mild curry flavour.

This wouldn’t be a true hot sandwich without the condiments: the Anchar (pickled mango chutney), the tamarind sauces and the cool cucumber salad. If you follow this recipe correctly, you will also have the most lightest fluffiest bara you could ever want: easy to slice into a pocket or sandwich two bara’s together with a serving of curried channa, hence the name ‘doubles’.

It’s a messy sandwich to eat at times, but that’s all accepted as no compromise is made on taste! It’s quick, tasty and your sure to have another (doubles!) Ok here endeth the puns!

Bara and Channa (Doubles)

INGREDIENTS

Bara

2 cups strong white bread flour

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp instant yeast

1/3 Cup warm water

1/4 tsp Sugar

Oil for frying

 

Curry Channa

1 tin of Chick Peas (keep the salted water for later)

3 cloves Garlic crushed

1/2 medium Onion – grated

2 Spring onions – finely chopped

1 tbsp of Sweet red pepper (finely chopped)

1-2 tbsp of Patak’s Madras Curry paste (or Chief Curry Powder)

1/2 tsp of Cumin powder (Geera)

1 tbsp Olive oil

 

Cucumber Chutney 1 Cucumber – finely sliced

2-3 Garlic cloves

Juice of 1 Lime

1/2 tsp of Scotch bonnet pepper

1/2 tsp Brown sugar 1-2 tbsp of freshly chopped Coriander.

 

‘Tambran’ Tamarind Sauce see recipe here

 

METHOD

Bara

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, turmeric.

  1. In a separate small bowl place the warm water, sugar and yeast, stir and leave to foam for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the yeast mixture to the flour to make a slightly firm dough.
  3. Knead it for 3 minutes and then place in an oiled bowl, covered with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours (in a warm place preferably, not in direct heat).
  4. When the dough has risen, take the dough and punch the air out of it on a floured surface.
  5. Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces and then shape each piece into a tight ball. Again place the dough balls under damp cloth and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Then with a bowl of warm water, moisten your fingers take a dough ball and flatten it to a round base, 4 or 5 inches in diameter.
  7. The dough should still be moist at this time. You should be able to fit only 3 in the frying pan to give you an idea of their size. Take a frying pan and fill it with 2″ of oil. Heat the oil to a medium – high heat. place 3 of the bara’s in the oil, it should take no more than 30 seconds to cook each side, the bara. Place the bara in a warm oven will you fry the rest.

 

Curry Channa

  1. Take the onions, garlic and red pepper with the oil and fry gently in a saucepan. The onion may take a while to fry, as you have grated it and so some of the water would have to dry out. This should take 2 minutes.
  2. Then add the curry paste or powder, cumin, lower the heat and fry with the onions for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Then add the drained chick peas to the curry mixture and stir the peas in so that the curry coats the peas completely. Allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Then slowly add the chick pea water, you may not need all of it, just enough to get the right consistency, I used about 3/4 of the water. Season to taste. Allow it to simmer slowly for another 5-8 minutes.

 

  1. Cucumber Chutney Take all the ingredients, grated, crushed and juiced, stir them lovingly into a bowl. Season to taste if necessary.

 

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Trini ‘Tambran’ (Tamarind) Sauce’

I remember being about 6 or 7 at the time (for some reason I put a lot of childhood events between this age range) when I tasted my first Tamarind Ball. It was dark in colour and resembled a golf ball that had been rolled in sugar. My brother told me it was (pepper) ‘hot’, so as neither of us could bear hot pepper at the time I avoided them as best I could.

But then a few weeks later, I thought I’d pluck the courage to go try one of these ‘sweets’ as my Dad called them. He had brought them back from a short trip he’d made to Trinidad to see my Grand – parents and extended family. I had watched on with envy as my Mum and Dad devoured them with child like pleasure all week and couldn’t understand the fascination with something that resembled liquorice but tasted like pepper.

The moment the Tambran was in my mouth, I was met by an unusually sweet sticky texture which I chewed on for a couple of seconds, before coming across the odd black seed (which I guessed had been missed). Then came the pepper of fire, which turned out to be more like a tickle rather than a punch in the mouth; it was over before I knew it. I loved them!

From then on I void never to follow my brother’s advice (in relation to food) ever again.

The recipe below is for Tambran sauce, I thought it would be better to share the sauce rather than the sweet/savoury balls with you because it’s a very versatile sauce which can be added to a number of sweet, savoury dishes or even drinks!

I’ve used this sauce in the Bara and Channa which is joining the blog soon, and hopefully I’ll share a drink with you too! Enjoy

Nutritional Value: 

Each 100 grams of tamarind contain 36% of the thiamin, 35% of the iron, 23% of magnesium and 16% of the phosphorus recommended for a day’s worth of nutrition. Other prominent nutrients include niacin, calcium, vitamin C, copper, and pyridoxine.

'Tambran' (Tamarind) Sauce

  • Servings: 10-20 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

10 sweet tamarinds, shelled and de-seeded

2 to 3 cups water

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 pinch of salt

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

1/4 medium onion – grated finely

1/2 tsp scotch bonnet pepper – chopped finely (or more!)

Method

Once you have removed the shell from the tamarind, rinse the tamarind under running water (this is to make sure any bits of the shell still on the fruit are completely removed.

You will see a boney like membrane running along the fruit, remove that too if possible, otherwise, transfer the tamarind a saucepan. Pour into the saucepan, two cups of water and bring the pan to a fast boil, you will see the tamarind begin to dissolve, you can help the fruit separate from the seed by mashing it with a potato masher. If the liquid starts to thicken, add more water and lower the heat. This should take 5 -7 minutes.

Take the tamarind off the heat, pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl, leaving behind the husk and the seed. You want to add the husk to the remaining sauce and discard the seed. Now return the tamarind sauce to the saucepan.

In the saucepan, add the remainder of the ingredients and bring it to a medium boil to help thicken the sauce. Once the sauce is at the consistency you want, allow it to cool and store in sterilised jars in the refrigerator.

Salt fish Fritters

Salt fish Fritters are a stable of most Caribbean households. Some eat it for breakfast, as a snack with bread or on its own. Unlike fish cakes which are made of a mixture of potato and cooked fish, saltfish fritters are made with flour and pack in a lot more flavour which makes them very filling. The end product should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

These fritters have the most flavour out of any fritter I have tasted recently and the key to this is a couple of things: grate all your ingredients where stated, that way all the flavour will be well-distributed into every bite.

Secondly taste as you go along, yes taste the dough, that is the only way to achieve the flavour you want, because once you start frying there is no turning back. You can also adjust the measurements and flavours as you see fit, provided the texture of the dough is not too stiff or runny (do a sample fry first), this should take no more than an hour to complete.

For the recipe e-mail me at: lovelorettaskitchen@gmail.com