Reggae Reggae Cookbook

For those who aren’t aware, Levi Roots is a Jamaican-born don of the English Reggae scene who has risen to prominence in recent years after ‘slaying the dragons’ on British reality show The Dragon’s Den, and gaining the funds and mentoring he needed to turn his Jamaican hot sauce business into a worldwide phenomenon.

Don’t be fooled by the title though, this is so much more than a cookbook: it’s the story of a righteous young Rastaman who rose from humble beginnings to become an international success story, and the trials and tribulations he faced in his life long search for success. His story is truly inspiring, offering the reader a first hand glimpse into the rich history of British reggae and sound system culture.

Weirdly for a cookbook I actually found this book held its own against the lengthier tomes of David Katz and Beth Lesser. Instead of giving you a general, impersonal overview, it rewards the reader with the insights of an insider, making it an endearing read.

As for the recipes, they’re mad tasty. The quantities are precise and well balanced, aside from his occasional use of the decidedly vague ‘knob of butter’, and the dishes compliment each other well. All the staples are there: Rice and Peas, Jerk Chicken, Festival, Ackee and Saltfish, Goat Curry and Ital Stew, plus some tasty additions like homemade Coconut Ice Cream, and the occasional throw away recipe (Soca Sardines on Toast anyone?).

Purists might take issue with some of his choices of ingredients, but realistically the book is targeted at those living outside of the Caribbean who may not have access to all the right ingredients, and caters for those who don’t have the time or patience to make everything from scratch.

Seriously, this is one of the most heart-warming and useful books I’ve ever read, both as a cookbook and as a mini-history of Jamaica, Reggae music and Caribbean cuisine as seen through one man’s eyes. You wont be disappointed: search this one out!

5 out of 5 Stars

Miso (aka Tiopira McDowell) is one half of Auckland based dancehall production duo High Stakes, and is currently building riddims and singles for the likes of Bugle, Determine, Chris Martin, and Voicemail.