Saturday 12 June 2010

Levi Roots New Mango & Chilli and Reggae Reggae Relishes

If you look Levi Roots up on wikipedia, you will learn these interesting nuggets of information about him : "Keith Valentine Graham (born in Content, Clarendon Parish, Jamaica, 1958), better known as Levi Roots, is a Jamaican reggae musician, chef, entrepreneur and multi-millionaire currently residing in Brixton, South London. He has performed with James Brown and Maxi Priest and was nominated for a MOBO award in 1998. He was a friend of Bob Marley when he resided in the UK and performed "Happy Birthday Mr. President" for Nelson Mandela in 1992 on his trip to Brixton. He gained widespread fame after appearing on the UK television programme Dragons' Den looking for funding for his "Reggae Reggae Sauce". He gained £50,000 and was on his way to huge success." Wow, sounds impressive already ! I wonder if he'd have achieved all that with his original name of Keith Graham though !

Unlike many celebrity-endorsed products, where the famous people behind the names actually have very little to do with the products themselves, Levi Roots' products are based on secret family recipes passed down from his grandmother that were initially sold exclusively at the annual Notting Hill Carnival. He's certainly come a long way since then.

Levi Roots talks about his products with such enthusiasm and culinary expertise that he'll immediately get your mouth watering : "“Ok people, pack away those winter coats and snow boots, summer is finally approaching and that means … barbecue time! There’s nothing better than enjoying good food with loved ones in the great outdoors, so with this in mind, I’ve created my very own Caribbean style of barbecue relishes designed to knock spots off those boring old traditional relishes you usually find in the supermarket. Without further ado, let me introduce my NEW Mango & Chilli and NEW Reggae Reggae Relishes. They’ll send your friends and family’s taste buds into a fabulocious frenzy this summer ! Mangoes are a West Indian favourite and if like me, you love a juicy mango then you’ll love my Mango & Chilli Relish. It’s a fantastic fruit-based sauce packed with chunks of mango and pineapple and mixed with Caribbean herbs and spices … and not forgetting, Scotch Bonnet Chillies, my secret weapon to add a fiery kick to meals. Try using Mango & Chilli Relish to jazz up some simple canap├ęs to serve to your hungry guests whilst they’re waiting for the barbecue to fire up. I’ve used my best selling recipe to create new Reggae Reggae Relish - a sweet blend of the original Reggae Reggae flavour with tangy onions and diced carrots. Why not use it to add a ‘taste of sunshine’ to a quiche? Or squeeze onto a succulent burger, sandwich or a juicy kebab that’s fresh off the barbecue, hmm, delicious! Both of my new relishes come in a handy squeezy bottle, making them fun for the whole family to use around the barbecue. Also joining them in my new ‘squeezy’ family, alongside Reggae Reggae Tomato Ketchup, is my ORIGINAL Reggae Reggae Sauce, which is now available in a squeezy bottle too. Have a ‘squeezy’ summer everyone!” You can just hear the sunshine in his voice !

I was really looking forward to trying out these exotic-sounding relishes but when they arrived and I saw the three chilli "hot" rating on the label, I was very wary. I squeezed a little of each on to a piece of bread and took a tentative nibble. There is some heat there but it's a pleasant kick that warms your tongue and adds some depth to the flavour, not a fiery unpleasant heat that removes the roof of your mouth, makes your eyes water and has you reaching for a glass of water (all the while knowing that that is the worst thing to do !). I've never been keen on mango chutney and I was concerned that the mango & chilli relish would taste the same but it doesn't - both relishes are unlike any other relishes or sauces that I've ever tried and they're both delicious.

Even before reading Levi Roots' suggested ways of using the relishes, I'd been experimenting and found that they go with just about anything. They really liven up a dull ham sandwich, make cheese on toast into a truly delicious quick supper but also go well with fish and rice, omelettes, cold chicken salad, ... They really are remarkably versatile. If I'm really hungry and can't be bothered with making something complicated to eat, just a quick squirt on a slice of bread makes an instant but satisfying snack !

Now that I've tried them, they'll be a constant fixture in my fridge, replacing the usual tomato relish and ketchup. As the man himself says, "put some music in your food". I've never tried Caribbean recipes before but these relishes make me want to try - I think I finally understand the meaning of the term soul food. Big respect to Levi Roots' granny !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £1.79 for 325g

for more information :


  1. HIS BOOK IS A MUST!!! It not only features reggae superstars Lee Scratch Perry but Augustus Pablo and Junior Delgado.

    A book of photographs by Pogus Caesar celebrating Britain’s iconic black musicians is to be published next month.

    The book features evocative, nostalgic and largely unpublished images of musical legends like Stevie Wonder, Grace Jones and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.

    “These images record a unique period in what would come to be called black British life,” remarks author and historian Paul Gilroy.

    “Pogus Caesar’s emphatically analog art is rough and full of insight. He conveys the transition between generations, mentalities and economies.”

    Legendary reggae artists figures prominently, and appropriately, in the Caesar image canon – Burning Spear, The Wailers, Augustus Pablo, Rita Marley, Mighty Diamonds, Black Uhuru, Sly Dunbar, Steel Pulse etc. The photographer cites reggae itself is a significant influence, reflecting his own St Kitts background in the Eastern Caribbean.

    The launch of Muzika Kinda Sweet follows an exhibition of the work at the Oom Gallery in Birmingham earlier this year.

  2. Great photos. the book is a serious contender for digging into my pocket.


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