Craig and Shaun McAnuff's Caribbean bangers and mash

Natural Flava: 3 Caribbean-inspired vegan recipes that are a twist on British classics

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Spice up your usual comfort food favourites with these plant-based Caribbean-inspired recipes.

January is here, the Christmas leftovers have been eaten and we’re back to work. And with the weather likely staying grey for the foreseeable, we’re turning to comfort food favourites (as ever) to lift our spirits. But after all the turkey and stuffing consumed in December, we’re opting for something a little less traditional to kick off 2022. 

As much as we love soups, stews and our mum’s cottage pie to beat the January blues, Craig and Shaun McAnuff are here with a brand-new cookbook to brighten grey winter days. Known as the brains behind Original Flava, the duo have been bringing fast and easy Caribbean-inspired dishes to our kitchens since 2016, but with their new cookbook, Natural Flava, their recipes are taking on a new plant-based persona. 

Natural Flava: Quick and Easy Plant-Based Caribbean Recipes by Craig and Shaun McAnuff
Natural Flava: Quick and Easy Plant-Based Caribbean Recipes by Craig and Shaun McAnuff

The collection of vegan recipes is ideal if you’re taking part in Veganuary, or are just looking to cut down on meat this year. Paying homage to Rastafarian Ital cooking, the plant-based meals aim to bring fresh inspiration into your homes, imparting punchy Caribbean flavours into much-loved classics. Marrying the worlds of British comfort food and traditional Caribbean spices, these three recipes are just what we need to lift our spirits this winter.  

Scratching your head for new ideas for WFH lunches and easy weeknight dinners? Look no further than the pair’s recipe for baked sweet potatoes with spicy chickpea mayo. Traditional tuna mayo is replaced with a vegan chickpea concoction that’s taken to new heights with a fiery scotch bonnet sauce.

There are few dishes that offer comfort quite like bangers and mash – and Craig and Shaun’s recipe gives a plant-based Caribbean twist on the classic. Not only are the vegan sausages rubbed with a spicy jerk seasoning, but your typical mash is revamped with plantain, with the dish topped off with a scotch bonnet garnish for an extra kick.

Finally, we all know and love classic chicken wings, but Craig and Shaun are offering a new vegan spin with their jerk BBQ cauliflower wings, spiced with chilli flakes, dried thyme, garlic powder, all spice and curry powder. We think we’ve just found our new weekend favourite. 

  • Baked sweet potatoes with spicy chickpea mayo

    Craig and Shaun McAnuff's baked sweet potatoes with spicy chickpea mayo
    Craig and Shaun McAnuff's baked sweet potatoes with spicy chickpea mayo

    Craig and Shaun say: “You can’t go wrong with a baked potato – affordable and versatile, and you won’t ever be disappointed by it! Growing up, it was a common thing to see tuna on jacket potatoes at school, but we’ve transformed it by replacing the tuna with chickpeas and using sweet potatoes for added flava and colour.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 4 sweet potatoes, washed and dried
    • 2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained
    • and rinsed
    • 1 red onion, finely diced
    • 4 tbsp vegan mayo
    • Squeeze of lemon juice
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
    • 2 tsp chilli flakes
    • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus extra to serve
    • Scotch bonnet sauce (see below), to serve

    For the Scotch bonnet sauce:

    Makes 1 jar

    • 10 red scotch bonnet peppers, deseeded
    • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
    • 1 large tomato, quartered
    • 2 spring onions, chopped
    • 50ml apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 tsp ground pimento (allspice)
    • 2 tsp salt 

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan.

    Place the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes until soft all the way through.

    Meanwhile, add the chickpeas, onion, mayo, lemon juice, garlic powder, thyme, chilli flakes and parsley to a bowl, and use a fork to crush the chickpeas and mix everything together.

    Cut the sweet potatoes down the middle and squeeze lightly to open them up. Spoon the chickpea mixture into the middle, sprinkle over some parsley, spoon over some scotch bonnet sauce and serve.

    Scotch bonnet sauce

    Add the scotch bonnets, bell pepper, tomato and spring onions to a blender and pulse for 2–3 minutes. In a medium saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, pimento and salt to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the blended ingredients to the saucepan and return to a simmer. Cook for 2–3 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge.

  • Caribbean bangers and mash

    Craig and Shaun McAnuff's Caribbean bangers and mash
    Craig and Shaun McAnuff's Caribbean bangers and mash

    Craig and Shaun say: “Bangers and mash, a traditional dish of Britain, so iconic and popular we wanted to recreate it in a vegan way and with more Caribbean style, adding more FLAVA! Vegan sausages in a saucy stew, served with soft creamy plantain mash… the best combination ever.”

    Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 6 vegan sausages
    • 2 tbsp jerk paste
    • ½ tbsp all-purpose seasoning
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 small red onion, sliced into rings
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 tsp browning or 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp vegan stock granules
    • 240ml water
    • 1 tsp cornflour mixed to a paste with a little water
    • ¼ scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped
    • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

    For the plantain mash

    • 2 ripe plantain, peeled and chopped
    • 100ml soy milk
    • 1 tbsp vegan butter
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan.

    Firstly, season your sausages with the jerk paste and all-purpose seasoning, coating them all over. Place on an oven tray and dash in the oven for 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, for the plantain mash, cook the plantain in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes until tender, then drain, return to the pan and add the milk and butter, with salt and black pepper to taste. Mash well with a potato masher.

    While the plantain is boiling, heat the oil in a medium frying pan over a high heat, add the onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes until caramelised. Mix in the browning, stock granules, water and cornflour paste to combine, then add the browned sausages and cook for 5 minutes until cooked through. 

    Garnish with the scotch bonnet and parsley and serve with the plantain mash, and a green veg such as peas.

  • Jerk BBQ cauliflower 'chicken wings'

    Craig and Shaun McAnuff's jerk BBQ cauliflower 'chicken wings'
    Craig and Shaun McAnuff's jerk BBQ cauliflower 'chicken wings'

    Craig and Shaun say: “Honestly the juiciest BBQ wings you could ever eat! And we’ve had quite a few in our lifetime… these are so, so juicy, and the BBQ sauce makes it oh-so fingerlicking. Before creating these, we questioned whether these could ever work, and it turns out they do, incredibly well. If you grew up in South London, you know about Morley’s BBQ chicken wings, but these are ten times better. The jerk BBQ sauce and the coconut really do offer so much flavour! Indulge in these with some fries for your very own Friday night feast.”

    Serves 4–6

    Ingredients

    • 200ml coconut milk
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp ground pimento (allspice)
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp chilli flakes or powder
    • 800g cauliflower (about 1 head), cut into florets
    • 200g plain flour
    • 1 tbsp cornflour
    • 1 tsp curry powder
    • 180g jerk BBQ sauce
    • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced, to garnish
    • Vegan mayo, to serve

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan.

    Add the coconut milk to a mixing bowl with the salt, black pepper, pimento, thyme, garlic powder and chilli flakes or powder. Mix to combine, then add the cauliflower florets and mix to coat evenly. 

    Add the flour, cornflour and curry powder to a large plate and mix to combine.

    Dip your spiced cauliflower florets (gently shaking off any excess liquid first) in the flour mixture to coat them all over then add them to a baking tray in a single layer.

    Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, turning them over halfway through cooking, until crispy.

    Tip the crispy cauliflower into a clean mixing bowl, add the jerk BBQ sauce and mix together to coat. Tip back onto the tray in a single layer and place back in the oven for 10 minutes to caramelise.

    Garnish with the spring onions and serve with vegan mayo.

    Natural Flava: Quick and Easy Plant-Based Caribbean Recipes by Craig and Shaun McAnuff (Bloomsbury, £22) is out now

Photography: © Matt Russell 

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