* Prices may differ from that shown
Ive always had a thing about baking since a young girl. Probably down to my sweet tooth is what inspired me to watch and learn how to bake. Im not the best baker in the world, but I know I can do it, and sometimes I make some lovely things for me and my family. When it comes to actual cooking, something that's savoury, now that's a different story. Ive tried very hard to get rid of the fear of things such as cooking a whole chicken, cooking lamb without turning into bonfire wood. All the simple and basic things I had to start from scratch, but its been worth it.
I bought this book around 4 years ago at work, as they regularly had someone from a book club ( probably The Book People ) come out with a leaflet of books on offer, all of which were at a reduced price and nowhere near what the rrp was. I remember seeing this book, and having a flip through the recipes and I had to buy it, purely because this type of food is what I love. And at a price of £5.00, I thought it was a good buy.
So who is Levi Roots?
I recall watching Dragons Den years ago. A slight cheeky, grinning man with a guitar and a head full of locks, came bouncing through the room to meet the Dragons, and decided rather than a boring talking pitch, simply sang and then followed with his idea of a sauce, a sauce with a kick, that potentially could rival the big guns out there as there wasn't that much out there like this. I remember thinking to myself-they will either love him or hate him. Probably hate, as people dont normally come into the Den in that fashion, but strangely enough they all warmed to him and he was given an investment to move forward with his product ' Reggae Reggae Sauce ' which has been a hit even years later. Since then his name and product have been collabrating with many other companied and products such as Birds Eye, Subway and Levi ( or the people behind him ) have brought out other sauces, food products and even drinks.
With his passion for music, but more so food, it was only a matter of time for this gentleman to come out with his very own cookbooks, and even cooking shows.
What is this book like?
I like the mix of the recipes, pictures and the information on Levis life. He mentions his life in Jamaica, his family, coming over to England.Not in huge depths e.g pages and pages long, but enough to get the idea of who he is but more importantly to get a better idea and feel of his cooking and love of food. How and where we are brought up has an effect on everything about us, and what we cook is a prime example. If someone hasnt had, for an example, any form of Caribbean food, then they wouldnt know why certain fish is used, where does the idea of certain drinks come from, why is curry powder a staple ingredient in many savoury dishes served up in the Caribbean etc. I think the balance is just right between the recipes and his background information, and its great to see lots of colourful and birght pictures which look true to life.
The recipes are varied, and covers drinks, main courses, deserts, snack type food, breakfast. Some recipes are alittle on the basic side, as mentioned in a previous review about roasting sweet potatoes. I think its important to have just afew very basic recipes because some people need it! I find it scary some people out there cant boil an egg, but this happens and it exists. Theres plenty of receipes in here, all not complicated, but will help you to make some very tasty, delicious Caribbean food.
Some of the recipes are as follows:
Salmon St Jago De La Vega
Salt Fish Fritters ( I make these and they are yummy! )
West Indian Christmas Cake ( my all time favourite cake, baked it once was amazing, but need to adjust my cooking time to make it more moist )
Guinness Punch ( wow-how I make it you will be in an alcohol induced coma for a week! )
To be fair, Levi does drop the whole Reggae Sauce into alot of his recipes, but who wouldnt? Its all publicity, and if he never mentioned it in a cookbook with the title ' Reggae Reggae ' I would have to wonder. He does also mention in the ingredients list that you can use something else, so you wont feel as if you have to use it.
For anyone that may be daunted with some of the wild and wonderful ingredients used in this book, at the beginning theres afew pictures but more importantly an explanation of what some foods are called and what they are.Good thing with our supermarkets and markets today, they tend to stock pretty much all of the ingredients in this book, so its not an issue.
So what do I think?
Its a good book.Its clear and easy to read and understand.Plenty of pictures to show you what the end result is supposed to look like. Alot of these are traditional recipes from the Caribbean. Maybe not exactly the same, because everyone does there own version, but give you a great base to work from. Its easy to change things if something isnt to your taste e.g I hate heat, so something with scotch bonnet peppers is a no no and swapped with something much milder. We have had cookery books on English cuisine, French, Indian, Chinese, why not Caribbean?
Great book giving you a good insight to the delights of food within the Afro Caribbean culture!
You have to hand it to Levi he really has come from nowhere and I do love an underdog doing well!
I have to say that I didn't see his appearance on dragons den but of course do love reggae reggae sauce (mix it in with baked beans - lush!) and having seen various appearances on various shows I had to try the cookbook.
I'm a foodie, and although i'm so lucky to live in a multi cultural city, unfortunately there is no Caribbean community to speak of and have never really had an opportunity to eat authentic Caribbean food and for that reason this book really appealed to me.
The inside of the book is of course as colourful as the outside and it has a real Caribbean vibe to it. At the front there is a real handy section explaining what all the food is and what it looks like - some of these things might be slightly harder to find, but i've found my local Asda has a really great world food section now. You'll find almost everything there (fresh Caribbean vegetables might be a bit harder though plantains are quite well stocked these days).
The book is split into chapters as follows -
Carribean ingredients and terms
Rise and shine
I really like the fact that the book has all manner of caribbean foods you've probably heard of, but some I hadn't. Levi mixes this in with some things about his life in the caribbean and his family which I think is a nice touch. Caribbean food to me seems as though it's also a celebration of culture and family so it seems only fitting.
I really like the 'everyday caribbean' chapter and it's the one i've cooked the most from. There are a lot of thick soups (main meal worthy) stews and curries (I recommend the chicken curry - forget Indian curries you might have had - this is caribbean style!). There is also a part of the everyday section which suggests things like houmous, beans on toast - this is basically just mixing reggae reggae sauce in to those things which quite frankly i'd already figured out for myself and it does feel a bit like Levi just trying to sell a bit more of his sauce to you!
Rise and shine features porridges and eggs and smoothies. I'd never have expected a breakfast section in a book like this, but I think it's a really good idea and although it's a relatively small section I think it's a nice addition. I've yet to try this section but I have my eye on the ' morning mango and passion fruit smoothie'!
The carnival section is all about the party! It's all about sharing food - Levi shows you how to make the best fried chicken and i'm dying to make the beef patties which looks like a cornish pastie in shape but thats about it! There is also a section about how to make various seasonings which is handy for barbecue foods! There are plenty of the usual cocktails too which for me is pretty standard but still a nice addition.
The sweet satisfaction is all about the sweet things in life - mango sorbet, tropical fruit salad, coconut cake, banana cake and jamaican bun. I'll be trying the coconut cake very soon!
All in all I really like Levi's first venture into the cookbook world and i'll definitely be trying some of his newer books!
Levi Roots' Reggae Reggae Cookbook.
Levi Roots or (Keith Graham) to give his real name became famous after appearing on Dragons Den a couple of years ago with his hot, spicy Reggae Reggae sauce, his friendly smile and his 'Bob Marley' singing. His winning smile and warm personality compelled Dragon's Den's Peter Jones to take him under his wing and with Peter's guidance he was propelled to fame obviously prompting the production of this book.
The book starts with a foreword by Peter Jones himself. He relays the story of how he admired Levi's enthusiasm and total commitment to his sauces and recipes handed down to him by his family. He also talks of how he and Levi have become firm friends through what they have so far achieved together. The book throughout talks of Levi's story and family history while interspersed with fantastic recipes and some excellent photos of sunny beaches and life generally in the Caribbean where Levi was born and raised.
The recipes in this book are simple, easy to understand and delicious. The ingredients are fairly easy to obtain, though I live near Birmingham and the markets here are fairly well supplied. There are recipes to cover breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, fantastic cakes and even some really lovely cocktail drinks. From delicious beef patties, lovely prawn salads to Jamaican coffee with Rum. There really is something for everyone to enjoy.
While sifting through the pages of the recipes you can take in all the fantastic pictures of golden white sandy Caribbean beaches and delicious looking BBQ's being enjoyed in the sun with friends and family. It is a real feast for the eyes. Throughout the book Levi will give us the history or origins of the dish in question and what his family connections were with that particular dish. It is a very interesting read along side the recipes themselves.
I love this book, it is colourful, exciting to look at and just invites you with its pictures and stories to try the recipes out. It is a heart warming and a funny read at times too. The book ends with the story of how Sainsburys became involved with Levi, through connections with Peter Jones, and how they placed their first order for 150,000 bottles of the sauce. They assumed that this would last them for the year ....... they sold the lot in 3 days!
I would highly recommend this book if you like your food with a bit of spice and lots of flavour. If you like to be adventurous with your cooking, and try something new every now and then, give this book a try. I don't think you will be disappointed.
~~~Cost and Availability~~~
this book is available in most good book stores for a RRP of £15.99. However I found my copy at The Works for just £5.99 ..... a real bargain!
Hardback Book: 192 Pages
Thank you so much for reading this review.
Levi roots reggae reggae cook book. Levi roots shot to fame after appearing on the dragons den and getting his desired amount of cash off the dragons, doing so by singing a song (the reggae reggae sauce song) and by getting the dragons to taste the sauce (its ok).
But other than that I have never heard of the man so I was a bit surprised this book even existed and a bit disappointed when I opened it for Christmas.
It didn't get any better when I flipped it over and saw a recommendation from Heat magazine, then, I opened it. My word it's a terrible book, and its nothing to do with the recipes which I cant comment on themselves, because I've never fancied making a single thing in here (which is amazing - a cook book has never made me not want to eat before) all the recipes seem rubbish 'Corned beef cook up' anyone? No thanks Levi!
The book is full of so much filler, with Levi talking about his home land and what his mum used to cook etc, it's not remotely interesting and is just there so the book isn't the size of a children's book. Its also very stupid, want to know how to roast sweet potatoes? Well there's a whole page on it in here; ingredients - 1kg sweet potatoes, 6 tbsp olive oil and salt. Wow! There other stupid recipes like a bloody Mary not with Tabasco sauce, but, wait for it, reggae reggae sauce in it. Mmm delicious!
The book has 192 pages in it, it's hardback and very sturdy in that respect. the pages are mostly very colourful and have a caribbean feel to them and a lot of pictures of the caribbean inside it (beaches, palm trees etc) and in some ways its a great book for promoting the islands as i do fanc goign on holiday there after flicking through the book again
This book sells for an amazing £15.99 I'd look up a recipe online if I was you. i noticed everyone else who has this book (or at least reviewed it) loved it so maybe its just me, but i wont be going round to dinner at their houses :)
Levi is an excellent passionate person and this book really reflects this. I love Caribbean food and am passionate about the different seasonings they use.
I do not live in London so I buy all my Caribbean ingrediants online from www.EasyCaribbeanShop.com and they deliver to my house. I buy lots of Scotch Bonnet peppers which are used alot by Levi.
Some of the food is quite hot so just be careful if you are not used to this and you can always leave out the extra peppers. The recipes are well written and are easy to follow and dont require to much technical knowledge in the kitchen.
Prepare yourself for lots fo different flavours. One of my favourite recipes is the Jamaican patties recipe as i dont think the shop ones are the best and if you make them yourselves then it will be worth it.
All in all this book is worth buying if you like lots of flavours and spices.
If you need to buy a Xmas present for someone who loves to cook then you should get them a copy of the Reggae Reggae cookbook by Levi Roots, he came from nothing when he went on Dragons Den and now is selling his wicked sauce in every shop I go into!
The cookbook is brill, I'm not mad keen on cooking but I take it in turns with my mum and dad to cook and even as a complete novice in Jamaican cooking I can follow the instructions in this recipe book because they're written in an easy to understand way.
The first recipe I tried out was the traditional rice and peas and I had such a wicked success with that very basic dish that I couldn't wait to try more recipes out.
I had been a bit worried that the ingredients would be hard to find and some of them might be if you haven't got any ethnic stores around your way but it's not like Levi is asking you to buy pure Jamaican ingredients and most of the stuff you'll be able to get in Tesco or Sainsburys.
The photo's in the book are nice and not posed too much because I hate it when I follow a recipe but the end result doesn't look that much like the madly staged photo next to the recipe. Most of the recipes in this cookbook are supposed to look sloppy or come in sauce so even if your presentation isn't that good at least it will look authentic! lol
I was surprised at how much veg is used in Jamaican cooking and it's loads more exciting than normal veg on a plate because the spices in the recipes turn boring vegetables into something more interesting!
I love this cook book, I've tried quite a few recipes out of it and they have all come out wicked. I haven't made any of the desserts or breads yet but I'm going to and before Xmas I've promised the rest of the family a proper Jamaican night in the house and I'm going to make a main meal and loads of nibbles while we stick Maxi Priest and Bob Marley on! lol
I live in one of the most culturally diverse boroughs in the South East of London. The media often talk about where I live as a crime ridden, dangerous, down turned place. Well, yes the crime rate is getting worse, there is no denying that! Some people where I live blame this on rising population, others blame it on the rise of diverse communities and people not being able to live together and others blame it on just the way the cookie crumbles. But, I think there are a huge amount of benefits from living in a culturally diverse place, and one of the many things I am going to say is the food!
Everything from the ingredients available, to the food shops on the high street. In Peckham, the food that has the main presence on the streets is West Indian food and goodness me is it brilliant! So, I get to the point... there are shops selling West Indian food for £5 a meal which you can take away and eat at home. My best friend (who happens to be a Jamaican guy) set me a challenge. That I couldn't cook him a REAL West Indian meal. Real? I hear you say. He didn't mean boiling up some rice and roasting some chicken with a bit of herbs and spices. Oh no! He meant everything from the method of cooking, to using the right ingredients and coming up with a real home made West Indian dish. This was going to be tough coming from someone who struggles to make a 'British' roast dinner. But I looked at him in the eye, and said DEAL. Then I panicked. How was I going to win this one? Well, one of the solutions seemed to be getting a decent cookery book. If someone wanted me to bake them a cake, I wood get a baking book! This was in the same territory! So I had a look online and the one that really stood out was this one with its bright Jamaican flag colour cover, I knew this was the one... Levi Roots Reggae Reggae cook book.
Now, before I got practising I got my friend to have a look through the book as he was cynical and thought that no book is going to make you relive what he calls real Jamaican home cooking. Once he had browsed through he looked at me in wonder and said... How did you find this!? He was impressed, and I bet he was worried he might lose his challenge after all. Secrets
I was slightly biased when I bought this book. I knew Levi Roots was a success through the help of the well known programme Dragons Den where he asked for funding for his 'Reggae Reggae' Sauce. So I knew if he was good enough for them then he would be good enough for me! The cookery book has some brilliant auto-biography pages on Levi and it also told me he grew up in Brixton as a musician. Brixton is 10 minutes away from me and he now also has a South London restaurant. So very close to home! This was making me feel like I knew the man! It is nice that the book is broken up and flicks from food to information about the author. It makes you understand his journey and really appreciate the work and love it has taken Levi Roots to succeed and share his authentic West Indian food with the world.
To begin with when the book came through the post it is stunningly bright and is great quality. A robust hardback for when you drop it my accident after holding the spoon, saucepan, chicken and trying to hold the book at the same time! All the pages are eye cuttingly bright, when you flick through you get glimpses of orange, purple, red and yellow. I am proud to have this in my kitchen that's for sure. Nothing old fashioned about this one!
This book is brilliant for learners to Caribbean food and it is split up into sections so it's really easy to flick though and find what you are looking for. It has over 100 recipes so you're guaranteed to find something to try!
This is the introduction to Caribbean ingredients and terms. Brilliant for people new to the whole West Indian culture or just for people interested in what certain food and ingredients are like. It was an eye opener for me as I had heard of things like Callaloo and Ackee before but I didn't have the foggiest as to what they looked like, tasted like or dare I say it, how they were cooked! The guide gives you really useful comparisons to well know British food to give you an idea of what things resemble. One example, Breadfruit. The guide tells you that although it tastes different it resemble potatoes and should be cooked like so. When you read through it you are engulfed in a country of knowledge.
This section is for the people who need to take baby steps. Like me! It gets you started with easy Caribbean dishes and simple side dishes, such as the famous rice and peas. (The peas are usually more well know as Kidney beans) and other popular things like fried plantain. It tells you everything from the ingredients needed, to what it should taste like. It explains what type of meal it is, as in a side dish or snack and it gives you the instructions exactly as someone in the Caribbean would cook it. (Without the lovely sunshine!)
This section is for the big guns! Plus, also the section which my friend will want me to cook from. It's where the main family meals recipes are based, such as stews, Caribbean curry and fish dishes It has slightly easier, unusual things such as Soca Sardines on toast and Reggae cheese on toast (I love the swing on a basic things). I won't tell u what is so special about these everyday dishes as I don't want to ruin it for you if you buy the book!
**Rise and Shine**
This is where Levi tells you all about making a sunny Jamaican Island breakfast. It includes substantial things such as porridge and eggs. But also Caribbean smoothies and morning juices which are great to make any time of the day and are brilliant rays of sunshine.
This is the highlight of the book, the party piece. It gives you favourite Jamaican party foods... which are of course known as Carnival time! The 'best friend chicken' recipe is great for when you have friends around. Give them a spicy chicken leg each and you won't get rid of them! I also love this section because for lunch at work I often buy Jamaican patties from the local shop. This book has a recipe to cook your own! It will take practise but when I get there, the shop won't be getting my pennies anymore! This section also shows you how to make Caribbean party drinks, like rum punch, Guinness punch and 'cheat's pina colada granita' yes please!
This is the dessert section. Caribbean sweets really are sweet! Things like mango sorbet and hot sugar cane bananas, all have a little twist to them and no meal would be complete with out a treat at the end. There is even a recipe for West Indian Christmas cake!
**Resources and Index**
Last but not least, the lovely Levi Roots lists a whole host of specialist stores, street markets and websites where you can get Caribbean ingredients from. Although to be honest, most of the stuff you can actually get from large supermarkets. But, a bit like butchers and vegetables. You always feel slightly more professional and charmed if you get them fresh from a local shop.
So, as you can see, the book is laid out in some brilliant sections and it also has bright, clear, mouth watering pictures to go with the recipes and also inspiring sunny pictures from Jamaica itself. Pictures of the carnivals and real Jamaican BBQ's.
From a beginner's point of few the instructions were really easy to follow, and it was all in a friendly tone. Levi roots understands that the people who buy this book are probably not going to be West Indian and he really breaks it down. Not so you feel stupid, but purely to help you understand the culture and cook some brilliant, tasty food. You can really feel the motivation and passion from Levi in the book and it makes you have instant respect for him.
Now, a word of warning, most of the food in this book is quite spicy and flavoursome. Of course you can alter the spices to suit your taste but Jamaican food is meant to leave a ting on the taste buds! It is fine for people who want a healthy diet or if you are a vegetarian, Levi provides many healthy recipes with a Jamaican twist and also meat free dishes that are just as exciting.
So did I win my bet? Well, with Levi Roots on my side, of course I did! I made a tasty dish called 'Brown stew chicken with yard style gravy'. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't perfect. The rice was a little stodgy and the flavour didn't quite match that as if it was bought from the West Indian shop down the road. But my friend was impressed and to be honest so was I. Plus, I actually own the book, so I have plenty of time to practise.
This is a lovely book to have in the house and to experiment your cooking with. It livens up the taste buds and welcomes new flavours into the kitchen. I bought mine from Amazon for around £8.99. the rrp on the book is £14.99 so make sure you shop around. you can find it in all good bookstores.
Well done Levi Roots!
Following the national phenomena that was Levi Roots appearance on Dragons Den his Reggae Reggae sauce has become a household name and now the singing chef has created a recipe book stuffed with authentic Jamaican recipes to tantalise the tastebuds.
I've still never had Reggae Reggae sauce as I write this, it's simply not grabbed me enough to buy it though I know all about it after the media coverage and the press machine of his Dragons Den sponsor Peter Jones.
I've cooked a fair amount of Jamaican food, having had it prepared for me by Jamaican friends and learning from their mother as she cooked. I can tenuously cook most of the dishes she taught me but I find my skills waning and thought the book would be a useful crutch with a few extras or difference spins on the recipes, so far so good.
Rice and peas are no big deal but if you've never done it before the book is handy. I wanted to find a recipe for brown chicken, having forgotten my friends personal ingredients and she has since passed away. After the first dish was bubbling on the stove I found the dish tastes different, not bad, just different, but then this will happen with regional variation and the test of time.
The recipe list of around 80 dishes covers the majority of the staple Caribbean dishes and using many ingredients which are now shipped into the UK and widely distributed, so some dishes are better known with alternative ingredients. My friends mother couldn't get everything she needed so substituted Hendersons Relish and that's the taste I've come to love.
Don't be afraid to experiment with the ingredients either, it isn't set in stone. Levi uses his own sauce but again you don't have to!
The book itself is peppered with its own Caribbean flavours with excerpts of the life and times of Levi Roots and lyrics of reggae music here and there. It's adds some authenticity and makes it more than a cookbook.
Look out for the simple but tasty dishes such as Mash-Up Eggs, Salmon St Jago de la Vega , Guinness Punch, Rum Cake and Sweet Potato Pudding but the base dish Rice and Peas is a boon to anyone who does not usually cook this way. There are recipes for a range of vegetarian dishes and you can even add some sunshine into the standard European pastas and pizzas.
It's a vibrant and colourful book full of fantastic flavours and I'd recommend it, I can't wait to cook the next dish!
My reviews do appear on other sites.