10 Best Kwanzaa Recipes for a Holiday Fête

Posted: December 24, 2021 11:18 am

Unlike many other early winter holidays, Kwanzaa is a secular holiday, celebrated by African Americans nationwide. It is based on celebrating respect, peace and harmony, inside and outside of the home, through 7 key principals: unity, work, responsibility, cooperation, creativity, purpose and faith. Celebrate Kwanzaa 2021 with these ideas for African-inspired and influenced recipes. These dishes represent flavors and regions of a vibrant continent and community, drawing from the Caribbean, the South and more. All are meant to acknowledge and celebrate tradition while being in the company of loved ones.

Recipe 1: Classic Shrimp Creole

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With New Orleans-inspired flavors, it is no wonder that this dish is flavorful and bold. Onion, celery, bell pepper, thyme, paprika, oregano, green onions, Worchester sauce and more flavor a spicy tomato-packed sauce. Serve it plain or on a heaping spoonful of rice. Either way, it will be a hit for sure.

Recipe 2: Jollof Rice

This sweet and spicy rice has a unique flavor profile. A ton of spices meets tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and spicy peppers mixed into rice. Spice lovers will appreciate the variety in this mix, while those seeking something milder may want to look elsewhere (or tame the heat with some plain yogurt). Trust us, this unique dish will have you wanting more than one serving!

Recipe 3: Easy Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo

West African, German, French and Choctaw-influenced ingredients make this melting pot of a dish a true favorite. Therefore, it is a natural choice for Kwanzaa. Make sure to consistently stir the flour and butter-based roux for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Whole shrimp or shrimp in shells and recommended for their added flavor. Celery, onion, pepper, Cajun seasoning, chicken broth, tomatoes and sausage combine into a wonderful harmony of flavors. Serve on top of rice.

Recipe 4: Jerk Tofu Grain Bowls

Grain bowls are all the rage these days. Who does not like building a heaping bowl of their favorite proteins, sauces and other toppings? This vegan bowl has Jamaican influences as it features fried plantains, rice and peas and a jerk marinade to transform the tofu into something wonderful. The recipe can be as fuss-free as you would like: either follow it step-by-step or use premade coleslaw mix along with some quick-cook rice to elevate tofu, jerk sauce and dried plantains.

Recipe 5: Spicy Black-Eyed Peas

Thick-cut bacon, onions, chiles, thyme, black-eyed peas, lemon, green onions, cilantro chicken stock and bay leaves turn a Southern favorite into a savory, spicy side dish that is worthy of not waiting until the last minute to try it. Take heed from the reviewers and soak the peas overnight before being prepared to cook them longer than what is listed. That said, the time and effort will pay off!

Recipe 6: Yams with Toasted Spice Rub

Cooked yams and leveled up a notch with a blend of fennel seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, chili flakes, cinnamon, kosher salt and chili powder. Use a blender or a food processor to break the components up into fine pieces. Consider saving a couple yams for sprinkling with just cinnamon to make a dessert as well.

Recipe 7: Individual Corn Spoon Breads

These moist and fluffy muffins are easy to make. Just gather cornmeal, eggs, flour, kosher salt, baking powder, creamed corn, scallions and chipotle in adobo and get mixing! Fill up muffin pans to the top and serve warm. Leftovers work for breakfast or snack as well. For a twist, mix up a chili-spiced butter for topping. Yum!

Recipe 8: Sweet Potato Pie with Candied Pecans and Coconut

After all the hearty African-influenced sides and mains, chances are you are looking for just the right dessert. Well, look no further! A buttery crust is filled with yams, cream, allspice, ginger, vanilla and a touch of kosher salt. Topped off with chopped pecans and coconut, this pie is a sweet end to a wonderful meal. Note: this also works with sweet potatoes, but the color may vary.

Recipe 9: Sweet Potato and Peanut Holiday Stew

Inspired by West African peanut stews, this version even features peanut butter! A natural one with no added sugar works best. As for greens, kale or collard greens work well, but spinach is a worthy substitute. Serve with a flatbread for dipping. This soup can be refrigerated or frozen as well, making it ideal for wintertime leftovers!

Recipe 10: Benne Seed Wafers/Cookies

These seeds were brought to Africa via the slave trade, and were used as a thickening agent in many foods. Chewy and nutty, these wafter cookies pay homage to the past while honoring the present. Crunchy, plain cookies are the traditional serving method, but you can also jazz these up with some dark chocolate for a more modern twist.

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