BROTHERS Craig and Shaun McAnuff aka Original Flava – the name of their hit YouTube channel and debut cookbook – were close growing up, even sharing a bunk bed and are just as close now, if not more so.

Dishing up Caribbean food to their legions of online fans, arguments are still rare. “It’s made us very competitive, in a good way,” says Shaun, 32. “We want to make things right and better, and the [recipe] standard has to be really high - it’s brought us closer together.”

The siblings, who have Jamaican heritage, were inspired to cook by their mother and grandmother, and put the increasing popularity of Caribbean food down to a “British acceptance of our culture” combined with staple Caribbean ingredients - from plantain to cassava – being more widely available, and the likes of Levi Roots and Ainsley Harriott having “paved the way”. Original Flava is all about pushing that further.

“We saw that lots of people loved Caribbean food, but were quite intimidated by it because they didn’t know how to cook it,” explains Craig, 29. “So initially, we just wanted to make a page for our friends.” But then their first one-minute video racked up a million views “and everything blew up overnight”.

“It was bit of a shock,” remembers Shaun. “I looked at my brother one day, like woah - everyone’s sharing it. First, all our friends started sharing it, then their friends started sharing it...”

Now they have a mighty 15k YouTube subscribers and more than 58k Instagram followers. For Craig though, things could have panned out quite differently. “Growing up in [Thornton Heath] South London, you’re faced with that challenge,” he says, speaking of gang culture. “You get caught up in that sort of life, and then you’re affiliated with people outside of your circle, and then you’re known as a gang, and then you have to build up that credibility, and not show your weakness.”

The younger McAnuff brother remembers being on a bus with a group of friends when a guy got on: “He was looking to question us, ‘Why were we here? Where you from, etc?’ I got a bit cheeky, like, ‘Who wants to be a millionaire? Stop asking us questions’ - and then he got a bit rowdy, and then he showed me his gun.

“It just spiralled out, and I started to laugh at him; I thought it was a fake gun,” he recalls. “At the time you’re fearless as a young man.”

However, it was a “turnaround” moment for him and has led to both brothers visiting schools, where some of the kids are facing that choice themselves, to talk about their experiences and run cookery workshops.

“We understand the struggles that young people face when it comes to this sort of thing,” says Craig. “We try to teach young people: Have that no-fear attitude, but put it in a positive place.”

A lot of their own positivity and drive can be attributed to the support of their quite wonderful sounding grandmother.

“Our nan [Lurline] is our inspiration; she’s an amazing lady,” says Shaun reverently, adding with a laugh: “She’s actually more popular than us now! She literally gets stopped on the street.”

A “big part of our journey”, she spent the summer holidays training them up to make staple Jamaican dishes like ackee and salt fish, and mackerel rundown, and then helped make their YouTube careers possible “because she opened up her home” - it’s where they still film their videos today.

And, like any good nan, she’s always pitching in. “She’ll be a bit like, ‘What’s vegan? What’s that?’ She’s still learning, but she’s very open to it,” says Shaun. “It’s like [having] an eagle eye, isn’t it? If you go wrong, she does offer a helping hand and tells us off a little bit, but it’s all good.”

Their food encompasses nan-approved traditional Caribbean dishes like rice and peas, mac and cheese and beef patties, but also ones with a twist, like jerk-spiced lentil bolognese, green banana potato salad, and their jerk burger.

Talking of jerk, the brothers are sanguine about it being many people’s only experience of Caribbean cuisine. “It is so nice,” says Craig. “I’m not surprised everyone wants to know just about that, but there’s so much more to Caribbean food.”

He speaks of the pioneering Rastafarian vegan movement, ital; of Caribbean produce, from mangoes to sugar cane that in Jamaica grow literally on the street; and how while in Caribbean households dinner will feature an almost excessive amount of dishes but, surprisingly, “most of the time jerk chicken isn’t even on the table”.

For the book, Craig and Shaun visited Jamaica together, spending time with family and eating their way round the island. “It was my first time, but it felt like I’d been there for years,” says Craig. “It’s like I almost knew the place already.”

They were both dazzled by how invested and fascinated Jamaicans are by food and ingredients (even if they struggled to eat their aunty’s chicken foot soup: “I couldn’t eat the foot, man!” yelps Shaun).

“Cooking over there’s a lifestyle,” explains Craig. “You’ll see people in the streets selling food and they won’t be alone - they’ll be with their friends, it’ll be like a community, they’re buying food but they’re talking to the shop owner, they’ve got family there, friends, and that’s how it is on every street corner. That’s what we’re trying to introduce with our food as well. It’s about making things together - it’s an experience.”

And so their message is: “Don’t be afraid of Caribbean food man, try it out at home, it’s easy.”


"Our spicy spin on a whole salmon is a family favourite every Christmas. It always goes quickly, so you have to be fast to get it on your plate! We don't make any regular salmon - this is our version with fragrant and delicious FLAVA, the marinade complementing the taste of the salmon," say Jamaican food-lovers, Craig and Shaun McAnuff.

"We love making our own jerk marinade at our family home, and neighbours knock on the door to say they can smell the spicy flavours from down the street. We use a blend of natural ingredients: Onion, garlic, pimento, thyme and scotch bonnets. It's bad!"


(Serves 4)

1 whole salmon, about 1.5-2kg

A likkle olive oil

Handful of sliced okra

2 limes, cut into wedges

Handful of scotch bonnet peppers (optional)

4 spring onions

Handful of fresh thyme sprigs

2 garlic cloves, peeled

For the marinade:

1tbsp apple cider vinegar

1tbsp soft brown sugar

60ml lime juice (from 3 limes)

1tbsp pimento (allspice) berries

1tsp freshly ground black pepper

1tsp ground cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg

2tsp fresh thyme leaves

2tbsp chopped ginger

1 medium onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, peeled

4 fresh thyme sprigs

2 scotch bonnet peppers, deseeded

A likkle honey


1. Get your fishmonger to scale and gut the salmon, or do yourself if ya bad. Use a sharp knife to score parallel lines diagonally along the fish on both sides.

2. Unroll a piece of foil large enough to wrap and cover the fish. Pour some olive oil on the foil, then spread out the okra, lime wedges and scotch bonnets (if using).

3. Put the jerk marinade ingredients into a blender and blend in short bursts until you have a thick paste. Massage the jerk marinade into the fish, getting it right into the cuts, then place the fish on top of the vegetables in the foil. Slice the spring onions into lengths and place them inside the fish's cavity with the thyme and garlic cloves. Wrap the foil into a parcel, leaving an air space above the fish. Leave to marinate for two hours.

4. Preheat the oven to 160°C Fan/180°C/Gas 4. Place the fish parcel on a baking tray and bake for 50 minutes to an hour until the fish is cooked through.


Highly addictive - and very, very sweet.

"WOW, this cheesecake tastes heavenly and is one of the best desserts we've ever created," say Caribbean food experts, Craig and Shaun McAnuff.


(Serves 8-10)

120g digestive biscuits, crushed

60g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

For the filling:

400g full-fat cream cheese

200g soft light brown sugar

200g sour cream

100g double cream

3 eggs, beaten

1tsp vanilla extract

100g plain flour

2tsp cornflour

3 ripe bananas

2tsp lemon juice

For the topping:

1 x quantity banana fritter mixture (see below)

Vegetable oil for shallow-frying

300ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks

Handful of sliced strawberries and blueberries, to decorate

Icing sugar, to dust

For the banana fritter mixture:

4 overripe bananas (or plantain), mashed

120g soft brown sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

1/2tsp ground cinnamon

1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1tsp baking powder

1/2tsp salt

250g plain flour

80ml water

Vegetable oil, for shallow-frying


1. Preheat your oven to 160°C Fan/180°C/Gas 4. Lightly butter a 23cm springform cake tin. Place the crushed biscuits in a bowl and stir in the melted butter. Tip the mixture into the greased tin and spread it evenly over the base, compacting it down. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then leave to cool.

2. For the filling, combine the cream cheese and sugar in a bowl. Stir in the sour cream and double cream. Whisk in the eggs, then add the vanilla, plain flour and cornflour and mix to combine. Mash the bananas in a bowl with the lemon juice, then stir into the filling mixture. Spoon the filling over the cooled base and level it out. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C Fan/220°C/ Gas 7. Bake the cheesecake for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven temperature to 120°C Fan/140°C/Gas 1 and bake for a further 45 minutes to one hour, or until the centre has just a slight wobble. Switch off the oven and let the cheesecake cool inside for two hours.

3. For the topping, heat vegetable oil in a pan to the depth of about 5cm. Using a tablespoon, drop walnut-sized spoonfuls of the banana fritter mixture (just mix all the ingredients together) into the hot oil and fry for two minutes or until golden. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the cheesecake. Dot the banana fritters over the cream, then scatter over the berries and dust with icing sugar.


FIERY, spiced and hearty to boot, this classic goat curry will feed a crowd very nicely, according to the McAnuff bros.

(Serves 4-6)

1.35kg goat, cut into 3-4cm chunks

5tbsp curry powder

1tsp salt

1tsp freshly ground black pepper

1tsp ground ginger

1tsp ground pimento (allspice)

2tsp ground turmeric

4tbsp vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 x 400ml can coconut milk

500ml water

3 spring onions, sliced

Large handful of fresh thyme sprigs

8 baby potatoes, peeled and halved

1 scotch bonnet pepper


1. Put the goat in a bowl and add two tablespoons of the curry powder, the salt, black pepper, ginger, pimento and turmeric.

Cover and marinate in the fridge for up to eight hours to get the maximum ‘flava’.

Alternatively, if you have limited time, a few hours is fine.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot over a medium heat and add one teaspoon of the curry powder with the onions and garlic. Cook for two to three minutes until dark brown.

“We call this burning the curry, aka BUN UP di ting! Then add a ‘likkle’ of the coconut milk to create a thick and tasty paste, “ say the brothers.

3. Add the goat to the pot and saute until brown all over.

Add half the water and the remaining coconut milk, cover and cook over a medium heat for up to two hours or until tender, stirring occasionally and adding two tablespoons more curry powder halfway through.

Add the remaining curry powder, to taste, and add more water during cooking if necessary.

4. Add the spring onions, thyme, potatoes and scotch bonnet and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Remove the scotch bonnet (or leave it in longer for a spicier taste), then cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes more until the meat is very tender; it should be falling off the bone if you have used bone-in goat.

* Original Flava: Caribbean Recipes From Home by Craig and Shaun McAnuff, photography by Matt Russell, is published by Bloomsbury, priced £20. Available August 22