A recipe for plantains stuffed with chickpeas proves that Caribbean cuisine isn’t all meat

“Everyone thinks Caribbean food is about jerk, jerk chicken or barbecue chicken,” said Craig, 32, in a Zoom interview. “But people are more open to Caribbean food now. The jerk chicken is so good they want to know everything else. And over time people have become more open and there are so many more vegan options that are growing year by year.”

The brothers also stress that they want everyone to enjoy their book, regardless of their dietary preferences. While 35-year-old Shaun went vegan for a year (and brags he’s noticed improvements in his weight and skin as a result), they’re both now flexitarians.

“This book isn’t just for plant-based eaters,” says Shaun. “Even for meat eaters, it’s important to have a balance.”

One of her uncles is a Rastafarian, herbalist and healer in Jamaica, and they were inspired in part by the Rastafarian Ital diet, proving that the nation has a long, authentic tradition of vegan cuisine. But that doesn’t mean that “Natural Flava” is limited to such recipes. Instead, I see it in the same vein as more recent cookbooks like The Korean Vegan and Provecho, both of which show respect for the plant-based foundations of a cuisine (Korean and Colombian, respectively) without being afraid to also offer vegan twists that cater to the spirit , if not to the letter of tradition.

With Natural Flava, this combination is part of what made it so difficult for me to choose a recipe. Should it be rasta pumpkin pasta? jerk tofu? A cauliflower burger with spicy mayo, coleslaw, and mango chutney? I chose these Curried Chickpea Plantain Boats because I love all the ingredients individually and had little doubt that I would love them even more when they came together.

These are something of a hybrid of Puerto Rican-style canoas de platanos, sweet plantains typically stuffed with spiced meat or seafood, and a chickpea and plantain curry that the brothers include in Original Flava. Season ripe plantains – please no green ones – and while they are frying prepare a quick curry with Caribbean curry powder, coconut milk, flavorings (garlic, onion, ginger) and chickpeas. When the plantains come out of the oven, flatten them slightly (like a baked potato) to make room for the chickpea mixture.

Then, when I stuck it all in a fork and bit into it, the layers of sweet and tangy, creamy and starchy made it clear: I needed more, not just a little.

Go ahead: The chickpea curry and roasted plantains can be cooked separately and refrigerated for up to 1 week before reheating and reassembling.

Storage Instructions: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

Where to Buy: Caribbean Curry Powder and Caribbean All-Purpose Seasoning are available in international markets or online. Visit the Latin American or Caribbean markets for the best selection of plantains of varying degrees of ripeness.

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 large ripe plantains (all yellow with some black spots and no green at all), peeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (any kind)
  • 1 small yellow onion (about 5 ounces), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons Caribbean curry powder (can substitute madras or other curry powder)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • One (14 ounce) can of full-fat coconut milk
  • One (15 ounce) can of no added salt chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose Caribbean seasoning (can substitute low-salt or no-salt seasoning)
  • Fresh parsley leaves for serving
  • Finely diced Scotch Bonnet or Habanero peppers, for serving (optional)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, thyme, pepper and salt.

Using a sharp paring knife, cut a deep score straight down the center of each plantain lengthwise, stopping just before you reach each end. Carefully separate the two halves slightly. Arrange on a small rimmed baking sheet or roasting dish and sprinkle all over with the spice mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and sauté for about 35 minutes, or until a fork or metal skewer goes through with very little resistance.

Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the curry powder and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the coconut milk, bring to a boil, then add the chickpeas and all-purpose seasoning and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and the oil begins to separate, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the plantains to a serving platter or individual plates, opening the center of each by pressing from each end. Drizzle the chickpea curry over the plantains, garnish with parsley and Scotch Bonnet, if using, and serve warm.

Per serving (1 plantain and 1/2 cup chickpeas)

Calories: 589; total fat: 31 g; Saturated fat: 23 g; cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 698 mg; carbohydrates: 80 g; fiber: 10 g; sugar: 31 g; Egg White: 10g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a nutritionist or nutritionist.

Adapted from “Natural Flava” by Craig and Shaun McAnuff (Bloomsbury, 2022).

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