Trinidad food is underrated. There is no doubt about it.
With African, Creole, East Indian, Chinese and Syrian influences, even the pickiest eaters will find something delicious to eat.
Here’s a small – but by no means exhaustive – list of the popular foods in T&T.
Varying combos of cilantro, Spanish thyme (Mexican mint), fine thyme, ginger, pimento peppers and scotch bonnet peppers are added too.
Popular Trinidad Food for Breakfast
Doubles is the most popular street food in T&T; enjoyed throughout the day, but especially for breakfast. It averages about $1 USD.
It contains two fried bara (hence the name doubles) made with flour, baking powder, yeast, and turmeric. Once fried, channa or chickpeas cooked with curry powder, Caribbean green seasoning, garlic and geera (cumin) powder are spooned onto the doubles.
At the doubles vendor, you’ll see a range of condiments like chadon beni (culantro) sauce, pepper sauce, sweet sauce, tamarind sauce, cucumber chutney, coconut chutney, and sometimes kuchela.
The pepper and roast pepper sauces are deadly. Remember, T&T is home to the Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper, one of the hottest peppers in the world. But, scotch bonnet peppers are much more popular. So, even if you ask for no pepper in your doubles or slight pepper, expect it to be bitter.
My mother-in-law made the doubles in this photo during the lockdown when all doubles vendors were closed. I’ll get her recipe soon. In the meantime, check out this Youtube tutorial from Foodie Nation.
Curepe (in north Trinidad) and Debe (in south Trinidad) are the best places to get tasty doubles – but everyone has their own favorite doubles vendor.
2. Bake and shark
Another incredibly popular street food in T&T is fried bake and shark. It’s the best breakfast after an early morning beach run along the north coast.
If you want to see the beaches in Trinidad and Tobago, hop over to my Youtube channel.
Bake is a fried dough made with flour, baking powder, butter and sometimes yeast that has been shaped into a large circle. While frying, the dough puffs up and is soft and airy in the center.
Once cooked, it is cut in half to make the perfect ‘sandwich’ pocket for well-seasoned fried shark. From there, you can add your own veggies, sauces, and condiments like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, pineapple chow, chadon beni sauce, garlic sauce, and more.
Shark isn’t the only option that goes well with bake. I love bake and shrimp!
More options include king fish, salmon, buljol (made with saltfish and vegetables), chicken, and veggies.
Maracas Beach stalls are the best places to get bake and shark.
3. Sada roti
Here’s another classic Trinidad breakfast: sada roti.
The roti is made with flour, baking powder and water and is rolled out into a flat, thin circle. Cooking is usually done on a cast iron tawa or flat griddle. Once cooked, it is cut into quarters.
Sada roti is great with any type of choka like baigan (eggplant) choka, tomato choka, aloo (potato) choka, fried caraili (bitter melon), fried aloo (potato), fried ochro (okra), pumpkin, fried bodi (long beans), smoked herring, saltfish, and much more.
Roti and chokas made in a chulha (mud stove powered by firewood) are a must-try.
4. Coconut bake
Coconut bake has a bread-like texture, unlike fried bake.
Its ingredients include flour, baking powder, grated coconut meat, coconut milk, oil and yeast. Once mixed and proofed, it is baked in the oven.
When hot, that coconut smell and taste permeates the bake, making it so much better than regular ole bread. It is sold in bakeries and roadside breakfast stops, where it is served with cheese, eggs, veggies, chicken, and many other sides.
Coconut bake made in a dirt oven tastes the best. Trust me!
Popular Trinidad Food for Lunch
Pelau – pronounced pay-lah-ow – is an incredibly popular Trini lunch. It’s a one pot recipe made with pigeon peas, rice, veggies, coconut milk, browning, Caribbean seasonings and your choice of meat. I used chicken in this pelau recipe.
It’s hard to trace the exact roots of pelau. Burning sugar before adding meat is a traditional African cooking technique. So, it is safe to say pelau is heavily influenced by African cuisine.
Some like their pelau buttery and moist (with Golden Ray); others like their rice a bit on the drier side. Both ways are really tasty! And homemade pelau is the best.
I enjoy pelau with a side salad and maybe avocado slices. It doesn’t need any side dishes – it is incredibly filling on its own.
Delicious dhalpuri is a type of roti that’s stuffed with seasoned and ground yellow split peas (dhal).
It is cooked on a flat, cast iron griddle or tawa and brushed with oil or butter. It is usually enjoted with curried or stewed dishes like curry channa (chickpeas) and aloo (potato), pumpkin, curry chicken or duck or goat or shrimp or conch, stew chicken, and many other sides.
Another way to serve dhalpuri is to place the curried side dishes (like curry channa and aloo) in the center of the roti and fold the edges over the filling to form a square.
If you’re buying roti served this way, be sure to look for roti shops with long lines since lines are a great indicator for finding the best tasting street food.
Paratha roti or buss-up-shut is another popular type of roti (and the third one mentioned in this list).
It is made with flour, baking powder and water. The dough is rolled out, buttered and folded onto itself to form a layered roti. It is cooked on the tawa and is pulled together or clapped to break apart the layers. The roti resembles a shirt with holes, hence the name buss-up-shut.
Like dhalpuri, it is served alongside curried and/or stewed dishes.
For large get-togethers, paratha is most often ordered beforehand and collected in a large Styrofoam cooler.
8. Crab and dumpling
Curry crab and dumpling is the most popular dish in Tobago.
The crab most often used is blue crab (Chesapeake blue crab). It is cleaned, seasoned, and cooked in curry powder, Caribbean green seasoning, garlic, and coconut milk.
The dumplings are made with flour, cassava flour or corn flour and water. The dough is kneaded, rolled out, and often cut into pieces. These are boiled in salted water.
Both are served together alongside fresh salad. Be sure to taste this dish in Store Bay, Tobago. This Youtube tutorial from Foodie Nation featured a wonderful lady from Bon Accord, Tobago.
Curry crab is incredibly delicious; but I love crab and callaloo too!
Callaloo, on its own, is a spinach side dish made with young taro (or dasheen) leaves, pumpkin, okra, coconut milk and all the seasonings you’ll expect in Trinidad food.
Besides crab, non-vegetarian callaloo can contain pig tail, beef, pork, chicken feet and more.
Callaloo is versatile and can be served with rice, beans, provisions, macaroni pie, and stew or fried meats.
10. Fried rice, macaroni pie and more
Callaloo goes really well with Trini-style fried rice, macaroni pie, plantains and so much more.
Trini fried rice is made with rice, carrots, sweet peppers, and Caribbean green seasonings plus other veggies like ochro (okra), bodi (long beans) and cauliflower.
Macaroni pie is the ultimate for cheese lovers. It is made with macaroni, milk, seasonings (sometimes eggs) and cheese. The pie is topped with a hefty amount of cheese and baked until the top is nicely browned.
11. Dhal and rice
Yellow split peas or dhal, rice and sides are a common lunch in T&T.
To make dhal, yellow split peas is boiled with turmeric, pepper and Caribbean seasonings. Once cooked and blended, oil, roasted garlic and cumin seeds are added.
Dhal and dumpling (boiled separately like those for crab and dumpling) is another popular dhal dish.
Homemade dhal tastes the best! Dhal and rice is often accompanied by a side salad, bhagi made with young taro (dasheen) leaves or chori (spiny amaranth) leaves, chokas like tomato, baigan (eggplant), and aloo (potato), and curried and stewed meats like chicken, duck, goat, etc.
Bar-B-Que meat – especially chicken – is a popular lunch and dinner meal.
It is made with chicken, lamb, beef or other meats marinated in green seasoning before being grilled and brushed with seasoned BBQ sauce.
BBQ is usually served alongside fries or fried rice, macaroni pie, macaroni salad, potato salad, cole slaw, and fresh veggies.
It’s hard to say where is the best BBQ spot. Use the lines to decide!
There are other popular lunch options like boiled and fried provisions, oil down, and coo coo. They’re all great but we’ll keep this list moving to snacks.
Popular Trini Snacks
13. Aloo pie
Aloo pie is another favorite alongside doubles.
It is a potato-stuffed fried dough. The dough is made with flour, yeast, and butter; while the potato filling is seasoned with garam masala, pepper and Caribbean green seasoning.
Like fried bake, aloo pies are cut along their sides and filled with curried channa (chickpeas) or chutneys like tamarind or mango.
Many doubles vendors offer aloo pies too for sale. Debe is the one-stop shop for all the tasty aloo pies, pholourie, saheena, kachori, baiganie and more.
Pholourie is a fried dough ball made with flour, split peas powder and seasonings and served with sweet and spicy chutneys like mango, tamarind, and pommecythere (golden apple).
You can eat pholourie by the dozens! It tastes so good!
15. Saheena, kachori, baiganie
In larger doubles and aloo pie stalls, you’ll find fried saheena, kachori, and baiganie.
Saheena contains spinach (often young dasheen or taro) leaves, flour, split peas powder, green seasoning, cumin and turmeric powder.
There are two ways to make saheena – the leaves are either cut up into small ribbons and mixed with the dough or they are layered with the dough in between, then rolled, sliced and dipped again in the dough before frying.
Kachori has soaked channa (chickpeas), dhal (yellow split peas), flour, turmeric powder, and green seasoning. The peas are ground, mixed with the other ingredients and kneaded. The dough is formed into small flattened discs and fried.
Baiganie uses baigan (eggplant) slices, split peas powder, flour, turmeric, and green seasoning. The dry ingredients are mixed with water to form a paste which is pressed onto both sides of the eggplant slices. They are then fried until cooked.
Chutneys like tamarind and pommecythere (golden apple) accompany these popular Trinidad food.
16. Corn soup
Trinidad corn soup is a popular one in T&T. It is made with corn, dhal (yellow split peas), provisions (like sweet potatoes), carrots, veggies, green seasoning and coconut milk. Dumplings are also a must in this delicious street food.
There are other popular soups too like wonton soup, cow heel soup, chicken foot, pig tail, ox tail, beef and fish broth.
Souse is definitely an acquired taste. It contains your meat of choice that has been boiled, drained and left to pickle in lime juice with veggies, green seasonings, and pepper.
Pig feet and chicken feet are the typical meats used in souse. And it’s usually served cold.
Chow is a wonderful, fresh, healthy snack in T&T. It has salt, pepper and fresh seasonings mixed with pieces of seasonal fruits and/or veggies.
The seasonings soak into the flesh and give the pieces intense chadon beni, garlic and peppery flavor.
19. Tamarind balls
Tamarind balls – sometimes called tamarind candy – are tiny, sweet, sometimes spicy treats that can be found throughout the Caribbean.
You’ll find them at roadside shop, in large groceries, and even in kiosks at different airports. Tobago’s airport has a dedicated space for vendors to sell them along with other sweet treats like sugar cake and toolum.
It is made with tamarind pulp and seeds, sugar, salt, green seasonings, and pepper.
20. Benne balls
This is a unique snack that’s especially popular in Tobago.
Benne is an African word for sesame. So, benne balls are made with toasted sesame seeds mixed with melted sugar or honey or molasses or some combo of these. Once rolled and cooled, the balls become very, very hard.
They are a little tough to bite into but it’s worth it!
Other sweet treats to get from Tobago include sugar cake (made with grated coconut, syrup and coloring), toolum (made with grated coconut, molasses, sugar and spices like ginger) and fudge.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the most popular Trinidad food. But, it does cover many of the must-try dishes when visiting Trinidad and Tobago.
Do you have any to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.