These fast, flavour-packed crowd-pleasers are great for the barbie or to fire up your weekday suppers
Craig [left] and Shaun, two brothers from London who started by filming easy home-cooked recipes in our Nan’s kitchen and gained hundreds of thousands of views
Here’s a taste of our new book Original Flava: Caribbean Recipes From Home. We want to share this joy, a testament to Jamaican culture that’s full of fun and fantastic ‘flavas’.
Original Flava: Caribbean Recipes From Hom by Craig and Shaun McAnuff is published by Bloomsbury, price £22
What’s the idea of the book?
We’re Craig [left] and Shaun, two brothers from London who started by filming easy home-cooked recipes in our Nan’s kitchen and gained hundreds of thousands of online followers. We travelled back to our family’s homeland of Jamaica to talk to the locals about the secrets of Caribbean cooking.
What’s Jamaican food all about?
It’s so vibrant and exciting and full of the influence of different cultures. You look at it, smell it, you want to eat it! Food is a big way of life in Jamaica – they are passionate about what they cook. Nothing’s really canned or processed; it’s fresh from the tree and the ground.
Which Caribbean classics do you introduce us to?
Try our Ackee and Saltfish, Curry Goat, Jerk Chicken and Garlic Butter Lobster. We’ve also got snacks and meals you enjoy at Carnival, roadside stalls and fish shacks and Saturday Soup, which is a big thing in Jamaican culture. You make it in the morning and share it with everyone who comes over.
Who’s your food hero?
Nanny. Everyone knows that when you go to Nanny’s house, you’re in for a feast. That’s after you take your shoes off and give her a kiss before you enter the house! She helped us with the recipe for our first video (Bun and Cheese, a spiced bake every Jamaican loves) in which we filmed her kitchen.
What’s your food motto?
EAT – we make our recipes Easy, Accessible and Tasty. We want to give you platefuls that taste like Nan’s food, and we also like to twist it up a little to give dishes our modern spin.
What’s this about chicken feet?
In Jamaica, they’re everywhere, and it’s frowned on to say you don’t like them. When offered food by elders you can’t say no, so to remain respectful, we pretended to eat the chicken feet that were bobbing about among the vegetables and dumplings.
Er, what if people are plant-based? What do you recommend?
Try our Ital recipes; Ital is a Rastafarian way of eating that is healthy, natural and vegan. Our Ital stews will fill you up and our Vegan Dinner Bowl is a feast for your eyes, belly and health. Our Nan grows aloe vera in her garden and we’ve put it in our green Ital Juice, which is full of energy-boosting ingredients. You’ll be a lean, green machine once you gulp this one down.
Earliest food memory?
Our grandad’s breakfasts when we stayed with him during the summer holidays. In the mornings, he’d give us tea and thick, unevenly cut slices of Bulla Bread, warmed up and spread with butter. It’s real old-school: a lot of ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice.
You love your carbs then…
Growing up in a Caribbean household three carbs in one meal was standard, You weren’t really hungry but you couldn’t resist. Rice and peas took up most of the plate, then mac ’n’ cheese and then roast potatoes with meat and (overcooked) veg. You hated yourself because you couldn’t move. Then you helped yourself to seconds as if you hadn’t learnt anything the first time around.
First thing you ever learned to make?
Carrot juice – Craig’s favourite drink. This is no way a detox juice. If Caribbeans did frappuccino, this would be it. Nan would make it every year at Christmas and as we got older we begged her to show us how. It’s made with condensed milk and you can add white rum and Guinness (which we had when we were over 18 of course!).
Tell us about your childhood…
Apart from fearing your parents over anything to do with school, food, chores and ornaments were the major features of our lives. Lie-ins on a Saturday didn’t exist, you had to clean the house from top to bottom and just suck it up without looking miserable. You couldn’t use any of the ‘good’ crockery in the cabinet or take the plastic slipcovers off the couch even thought it was 20 years old.
If we came over for Sunday lunch, what would you cook?
Sundays are about roast chicken – our Jerk Roast Chicken which gives a Caribbean lift to the traditional British lunch (even at Christmas our turkey gets the jerk treatment). Jerk is traditionally done on a jerk pan (a drum barbecue) or barbecue grill. Many people think of jerk as a spicy sauce but it’s a technique that gives tenderness to the meat along with distinctive seasoning.
Guinness punch. It’s another of Nan’s specialities. She taught us how to make it one Christmas and now we make it for every gathering of friends or family. It’s pretty powerful. We remember everyone asleep on the sofa from the effects of the Guinness punch.
Favourite hangover cure?
Our Brit-Caribbean breakfast bowl. After a long night, we have your typical morning fry-up – we like vegan sausages, tomato, mushroom, baked beans and avocado, but Mum always throws in some Caribbean ‘flava’, with some ackee and dumplings!
What can the Jamaicans teach the Brits about food?
In London, everyone’s more driven by time and money – all those things that wear us down. In Jamaica, the people may not have a million pounds but they see life positively. The sun’s shining, they’ve got food to eat. If you have a good meal, it puts you in a good mood. It’s the memories made through food that are unforgettable. Those awkward family disagreements can be nudged out of the way, with food as the mediator that gets us all together. That’s an attitude anyone can share when they cook and enjoy Caribbean food.
BUY THE BOOK WITH 20% OFF
Original Flava: Caribbean Recipes From Home by Craig and Shaun McAnuff is published by Bloomsbury, price £22. To order a copy for £17.60 until 8 September visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.