New Book: “Natural Flava”

Craig McAnuff and Shaun McAnuff’s Natural Flava: Quick & Easy Plant-Based Caribbean Recipes was published by Bloomsbury in March 2022. Evan Kleiman (KCRW) interviews the authors for her article “’Caribbean feel-good factor’ is core to vegan dishes from ‘Natural Flava’ authors.” [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

Raised in South London by Jamaican parents, Craig and Shaun McAnuff have a large UK audience for their platform Original Flava. Recalling large family get-togethers with aunties, uncles, and cousins, food was always a focal point. 

A trip back to Jamaica prompted the brothers to explore the Ital diet of the Rastafarians, including that of their herbalist uncle. In their second book “Natural Flava,” they change up common gateway dishes for vegetarians and vegans, including a plantain hummus and a jerk-spiced squash and callaloo wellington with nods to their Jamaican heritage and London roots.

KCRW: Tell us about the trip back to Jamaica that inspired you to broaden your palate. 

Craig McAnuff: We went back to Jamaica for our “Original Flava” book, but also to see our family in Jamaica. We met with our uncle, who’s a Rastafarian. He has his own land, he’s an herbalist who believes in sing the foods of the earth to help to replenish, to nurture, and also to eat. We’re not actually vegans, we are “flexitarian” we like to say, but we wanted to showcase the amazing array of vegan palette that is in Caribbean food.

Hummus is such a popular vegan go-to, and can be made with so many different ingredients, but I’ve never seen plantain hummus, one of the recipes in your book.

Shaun McAnuff: It was something that we came up with a few years ago, actually. Basically you just add it to your chickpeas, blend it with salt and pepper, a bit of lime juice as well. The same way you do the normal hummus but you just add plantain to give it that sweetness and that flavor. … You can cook it down and you can fry it down. You can roast it, or you can put it in naturally as it is. [. . .]

Can you describe your recipe for the curried chickpea plantain boat

Craig: We’re so used to using plantain and frying it in the Caribbean — slicing it up and putting it in some hot oil, lovely, golden, and crispy, beautiful side dish. But we just wanted to change it up a bit. So we roasted some plantain, or you can fry a whole plantain or roast in the oven [with] some oil on it. And then you make up a lovely chickpea curry and pour it over the whole plantain. So it’s a bit similar to a banana sundae. 

Shaun: Or a banana sundae. That split down the middle is very important, so it makes a divide in the middle of the plantain so you’re able to insert the chickpeas on top so it just slots right in the middle.

When it comes to Jamaican dishes, most people think of jerk, and often associate it with meat. But you can jerk anything. Tell us about your recipe for jerk-spiced squash and callaloo wellington.

Craig: Wellington is really popular over here in the UK. And usually it’s using beef as the filling. So we use a butternut squash, which has a very plump texture to it, very similar to a meaty texture, as well as very stringy. We used a jerk marinade and then we just massaged it onto the pumpkin or the squash. And then we added the callaloo to it and wrapped it with some pastry and it’s just absolutely delicious. A real centerpiece on a vegan plate. [. . .]

For original article, see

Natural Flava: Quick & Easy Plant-Based Caribbean Recipes
Craig McAnuff and Shaun McAnuff
Bloomsbury, March 2022
256 pages
ISBN 978-1526631879 (hc)

More book reviews here:

Original Flava want to show Jamaican food is more than just jerk chicken in new plant-based book
Prudence Wade, Irish News, January 29, 2022

Caribbean cuisine has delicious vegan food
Josh Barrie, iNews, January 7, 2022

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