Top 3 Trinbago Foods

One of the things I enjoyed most about my recent trip to Trinidad & Tobago is the multiculturalism of the islands. Trinnis ancestry hails from Africa, South Asia, particularly India, Lebanon & Syria, and China (just to name a few).

Safara and FeastThis multicultural is most evident in the local food. Not only did I get to experience the local goodies sold in sidewalk shacks, but also was treated with a feast prepared by Chris, one of my hosts. One Sunday morning, Chris went all out and made a traditional Trinni brunch from scratch – all with fresh ingredients and handmade preparation. It was this meal that made be really appreciate the richness of the islands!

Here’s my favorite three foods from Trinidad & Tobago (also known as Trinbago):

#1 – Shark & Bake

Before I headed off to the islands I posted about my upcoming jaunt on the GoErinGo Facebook page, asking for suggestions on where to go and what to do. I got a huge response from the locals, with many people pointing towards the beautiful Maracas Beach and the famed Shark & Bake.

Shark & Bake is sort of like a shark sandwich, except it’s not made with shark but a local fish. The shark is skinned and seasoned and pan fried. And bake refers to a local roll made of fried dough.

Sold at a line of shacks along the beachfront, the sandwich is considered a blank canvas, since it’s really all about the condiments. Here’s just a few of the toppings that belong on a Shark & Bake: mustard, garlic sauce, tomato ketchup, pepper sauce, tamarind sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and coleslaw – the list goes on. You pick your favorite combination, making your Shark & Bake uniquely your own creation.

doublesNow because I don’t eat fish, I opted for the aloo potato pie, also served with fried dough goodness. I solicited advice from the other customers and topped my version with tamarind sauce – YUM!

#2 – Doubles

I tried doubles a couple of times. The first time it was good, but the second time it was out of this world. (In fact I went back for a second round, making mine a double doubles.) Usually eaten for breakfast or lunch, doubles are a great afternoon or late-night snack and are sold by sidewalk vendors.

Doubles use bara, a type of flour that is flavored with turmeric, as a base. It’s also fried, then filled with channa, which is a type of curried chick peas. Once again it’s all about the condiments. I had mine with a combo mango chutney and slight pepper sauce. Delish!

roti FP#3 – Rotis

Rotis are quintessential Trinbago. Hailing from South Asia, rotis are made from atta flour and is slightly reminiscent of naan. Rotis can be eaten as an accompaniment to a curry or as a meal in its own right. In fact, a roti was first described to me as a ‘Caribbean burrito.’

While my roties were all veg, traditionally roties are filled with meat, like goat. My first roti was when I was prowling a West Indian neighborhood in Brooklyn years ago. I wrote about this experience in a post called Got your Goat!

Rotis are usually sold in roti shops (although mine were made fresh by Chris). Here’s a recipe if you want to make you own rotis at home, as well as a how-to video:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Manjula Makes Roti

mauby tripleHonorable Mention: Mauby

I first tasted Mauby served as an iced tea during a meeting. It had a strong licorice taste and was so refreshing that I stopped by the store to bring some back to the States.

Mauby is actually made from bark that is steeped to extract its flavor. It is generally turned into a syrup that is used in cold drinks. Alternatively, the bark mixture can be kept dry and activated with hot water.

Mauby is said to offer several health benefits, including lowering cholesterol (always a good thing) and relieving arthritis. I’m going to drink it for its distinctive slightly sweet, mildly bitter taste. If you get a chance – be sure and try it!

Bonus Question

While eating my hand-made Trinbago feast, I learned that most Trinbago fare has a central ingredient. Any guesses? (I guessed garlic and was wrong).


The dominant spice in Trinbago cuisine is cumin!

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This entry was posted on Friday, February 6th, 2015 and is filed under Food & Drink.

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