Sunday, January 21, 2018

The double feat of 'doubles'

…from the plantations of Naparima to the halls of NAPA


Author Badru Deen autographs a copy of his book Out of the Doubles Kitchen during the local launch at NAPA Hotel in Port of Spain on Wednesday. Photo Ayanna Kinsale

Andrew Manswell

The local book launch for Badru Deen’s “Out of the Doubles Kitchen” at NAPA Hotel in Port of Spain on Wednesday (May 14) was one of those rare moments where everything seemed perfect. 


The warm greeting on arrival, the smiles and friendly chatter among the guests, the soft, mellow, soothing music that filtered in the background and the speeches delivered all seemed synchronised to fill a particular time and space. And indeed they all did.


Deen’s book, a memoir of the first family of ‘doubles’, is the culmination of a journey that took 78 years to arrive from the plantations of Naparima to the halls of NAPA.


In it he tells the story of his father, Emamool Deen or Mamoo Deen as he was affectionately called, innovativeness in creating the now famous street food ‘doubles’. He also brings to light the struggles of poverty, alcohol and domestic abuse that eventually led to a success story.


Deen, who said one of the reasons he wrote “Out of the Doubles Kitchen” was to register his family’s contribution to Trinidad and Tobago, added that it was also his way of giving back to his father who ensured that he got a sound education. 


“At first glance the book looks like a recipe book on how to make doubles but the only recipe given is the recipe of life.


“When my father realised the job he was fantasising about did not exist he decided to create it,” said Deen, adding that though his father lacked formal education he demonstrated that one can use basic common sense to set goals, work assiduously and achieve favourable outcomes.


He went on to read this excerpt from page 220: “When Mamoo Deen introduced doubles in 1936 he was making his contribution to the blending of the Indian culture with a plural society in its infancy. The national buffet of culinary delights has been enriched by his creative input. His contribution to nation building stirred the melting pot of a diverse society that now describes itself as “all ah we is one.” Calypso icon David Rudder described ‘doubles’ on his Facebook page in December 2012, as “the great egalitarianiser" of all varied stomachs.


“Mamoo Deen untimely demise at the age of sixty-two denied him the opportunity to see his creation take full flight to become the ubiquitous street food of the nation but his immortality will reside in his creation that lives. He may have lived an uneducated and ordinary life but he left an extraordinary legacy…”


Deen said if one disadvantage person gets inspired by “Out of the Doubles Kitchen” then the five years it took to research and write it would not have been in vain.


Tourism Minister Sen. Gerald Hadeed, who delivered the feature address, said people tend to view struggle in a negative light but Deen’s story about his family’s struggles is one that ends in success.


“Reading the book gave me a lot of inspiration to continue because it is not about ‘doubles’, it’s about how you conduct your everyday life in the pursuit of building and achieving.


“It teaches you about life and how every time there’s a problem you can create an opportunity. Look at a problem and see opportunity," Hadeed said.


Winston Peters, Minister of Community Development, who attended the launch as a friend of the family, said ’doubles’ is a product that has crossed all boundaries, including race and religion.


He said that because the Deen family saw ‘doubles’ as a way of taking themselves out of poverty and as a way of building the resilience of an entire family, today we have it as a national dish.


“It’s not just fast food but quick food, fast,” Peters said which evoked laughter from the audience.


He applauded Deen for setting the record straight with regards to the origin of ‘doubles.’ 


Professor Dr Brinsley Samaroo, who did a literary review of the book, said as a direct descendant of indentured Indians who came to Trinidad 169 years ago, Mamoo Deen found more than the other side, he found himself an emerging society desperately searching for people with real intelligence rather than repetitive intelligence.


Samaroo praised Deen for sharing the very compelling story of his family and the fact that this iconic creation has now become synonymous with Trinidad and Tobago.


Former First Lady Zalayhar Hassanali and cricket icon Brian Charles Lara were among the specially invited guests at the launch.


“Out Of The Doubles Kitchen” is available in print and e-book at or fans can get some excerpts at