Marvetta Diaspora Project with Seth Caplan

MARVETTA is a Mango Pepper Sauce whose recipe originates from my family and from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. Its spicy, sweet, tangy and bright flavors connect me to my culture and to my ancestors, and its taste gives me a feeling of "home" with every bite. 

One of the luxuries of being from New York City is that I get to rub shoulders with people of many different cultures and ethnicities, and I know that most stay connected to the diaspora of their people through food, like me! My friend Seth Caplan (photographer, www.seth-caplan.com) and I explored this relationship with 3 friends from different cultures by having them create dishes using MARVETTA that connect them to their "home," with recipes written in their own words.



DIASPORA: Guyana 🇬🇾 and Brownsville, Brooklyn 

MEAL: Balanjay, Fried Plantains, Channa, Marvetta (VEGAN)

This triage of *vegan* Guyanese dishes feature stewed eggplant, fried plantains and sautéed chickpeas cooked with curry and spicy, rich flavors.

(recipe posted below)

Ingredients + Dishes 

Balanjay (Stewed Eggplant)

  • 1 Organic Eggplant (diced)
  • Safflower Oil 
  • 1 Organic Green or Red Pepper (chopped)
  • Scallions or Parsley 
  • 1 Organic Onion (chopped)
  • 1 Organic Garlic (4 cloves; smashed, then minced)
  • Curry powder/ Masala
  • Light, Organic Coconut Milk
  • Marvetta

Fried Plantains 

  • 1 Ripe Sweet Plantain
  • Marvetta for dipping sauce

Channa (Sautéed Chickpeas)

  • 1 Can of Organic Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 Organic Green or Red pepper (chopped)
  • Guyanese Green Seasoning (wet)
  • 1 Organic Onion (chopped)
  • 1 Organic Garlic (4 cloves; smashed, then minced)
  • Dry Seasonings
  • Marvetta


2. RU

DIASPORA: India 🇮🇳  and Upper East Side, Manhattan

MEAL: Bombay Chutney Sandwich, Marvetta (VEGETARIAN)

"A Bombay chutney sandwich is a classic Indian vegetarian snack perfect for almost any time of day. The textures of the crisp, fresh vegetables and the spiciness of the condiments are counterbalanced with grilled bread and soft cheese, giving you a satisfying, crunchy treat. Typically the sandwich is served with ketchup that is included for dipping, but I'll let you in in a little secret: it's even better to dip it in Marvetta! One might think the spiciness of one may not combine with the other but, they're actually quite complementary."

(recipe posted below)

Homemade green chutney is the essential backbone of a classic Bombay Grilled Chutney sandwich. The chutney is made with lime juice, cilantro (coriander), mint, and ginger, and jalapenõs or green chiles processed into a pesto-like paste. You'll may need add water to blend, depending on the consistency. Obviously, the more peppers you use, it ups the spiciness quotient but if you're a fan of Marvetta, then you certainly can take the heat!
The best bread to use is classic, soft white bread. I've tried others, but white bread yields the best results. Start with spreading salted butter on both sides, and then spread the chutney on both sides of the inside. Next up, you want to layer up your fresh vegetables. You can get a little creative here but my typical staples are: thinly sliced cooked potatoes, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and even some jalapenõs if you're feeling it (are you sensing a theme?).  Don't forget the cucumbers though, as they add to that essential "crunch factor." Then you want to add some grated cheese as that will help hold the sandwich ingredients together. 
Once you've assembled it you can grill the sandwich in a variety of ways. My mom had one of those fancy sandwich pocket presses growing up and while I prefer those as it closes the sandwich completely so things don't slip out (and it makes it easy to dip!), you can also use any general sandwich press or even grill it in a pan, similar to grilled cheese. 
Once it's grilled to perfection the sandwich is ready to eat! Dip it into Marvetta and taste the vibrant flavors of a classic chutney sandwich brought to the next level with a marriage of spaces. 
  1. 1 Cup Cilantro
  2. 1/2 Cup Mint Leaves
  3. 1 slice fresh Ginger
  4. 1 Jalapenõ
  5. Juice of 1/2 lime
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Water, as needed to blend
  1. Soft White Bread
  2. Salted Butter
  3. Green Chutney
  4. Boiled potato, thinly sliced
  5. Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
  6. Cucumber, thinly sliced
  7. Tomato, thinly sliced
  8. Grated Cheese
  9. Chaat Masala Powder (if available, but not necessary)
  10. Marvetta (to serve it with)




DIASPORA: Japan 🇯🇵  and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

MEAL: Karaage Chicken, Kewpie, Marvetta

"This dish is definitely something I grew up eating all of the time, and it is very popular in Japan where my father is from.  My mom still makes it all of the time and its a quick, no frills any day of the week meal that hits every time."

(recipe posted below)

Karaage chicken recipe (for 2)
  • Cut up 1 lb. of boneless skinless chicken thighs into about 4 (2" pieces) and season generously with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  • Zest a 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic (about one knob and one clove) into a bowl.  Whisk in 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of cooking sake and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil into the ginger and garlic.  Then pour the sauce mixture over the chicken pieces and mix with your hands, cover and store in the fridge for 30 mins.  
  • While the chicken marinades, you can prepare your sides and dipping/ drizzling sauce (rice and cabbage slaw) and prepare your frying station.  
  • I incorporated Marvetta into this dish by simply mixing it with the popular Japanese Kewpie mayo, using a 60/40 ratio of Marvetta pepper sauce to mayo.  This is a common dipping/ drizzling sauce used for karaage with an extra kick! 
  • Once your chicken is ready, you can start prepping your frying station while heating up 4 cups of neutral flavored oil in a heavy bottomed pan and arrange a dredging pan with one pile of flour and one pile of potato starch (enough to dredge the chicken pieces).
  • Start by dredging the chicken lightly in the flour, tapping it off and then the potato starch one by one, making sure any excess flour and starch falls off.  
  • When the oil reaches 325ºF (163ºC) (you’ll know it’s ready when you insert a wooden chopstick into the oil and small bubbles appear around it), gently submerge each chicken piece in the oil.
  • Make sure to not overcrowd the pan, I like to cook 3-4 pieces at a time.  
  • Deep-fry for 90 seconds, or until the outside of the chicken is a light golden color. If the chicken browns too quickly, then the oil temperature is too high. Either put a few more pieces of chicken in the oil or lower the heat. Controlling the oil temperature at all times is very important for deep-frying. Transfer the chicken pieces to a wire rack to drain the excess oil.
  • The residual heat will continue to cook the chicken as it rests on the wire rack. Continue deep-frying the remaining chicken pieces. Between batches, pick up and discard the crumbs in the oil with a fine-mesh sieve. This keeps the oil clean and prevents it from becoming darker.
  • Now, heat the oil to 350ºF (177ºC). Place 3 to 5 pieces of the resting chicken back into the oil and deep-fry for 45 seconds, or until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Transfer them to a wire rack to drain the excess oil. Continue with the remaining chicken pieces.
  • Serve immediately on a bed of rice next to cabbage slaw and drizzle the entire dish with your Marvetta mixture and sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds on top.  Add a lemon wedge if you wish!



Studio photos by Seth Caplan and Claire Esparros, food-at-home photos by Friday, Ru and Faye