10 Recipes to Make for Kwanzaa This Year

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino )

As far as holidays go, Kwanzaa is a relatively new one: It was created in 1966 during the height of the civil rights movement by Dr. Maulana Karenga, chair of the department of African Studies at California State University, Long Beach.

A half-century later, the seven-day festival — starting December 26 and ending January 1 — is celebrated by millions of African Americans. It’s a secular celebration of culture that’s rooted in seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. And, like all holidays, it comes with plenty of delicious food tradition.

Kwanzaa is about family and community, and culminates in a feast, called Karamu, on December 31. The dishes served come from African tradition, but many also have influences from the American South and the Caribbean. If you’re hosting Karamu this year and aren’t sure what to put on the menu, here are some recipes that are perfect for it.

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

This hearty stew is a shortcut version of the original, calling for peanut butter instead of roasted-and-ground peanuts. It’s still got all the traditional flavors, though, and can be easily scaled up to feed a larger crowd.

(Image credit: African Bites)

2. Red Red (African Stewed Black-Eyed Peas) from Immaculate Bites

These black-eyed peas are stewed with tomatoes, spices, and some optional crayfish. Cook them on the stovetop, or save a ton of time with a pressure cooker.

(Image credit: Nigerian Lazy Chef)

3. Ghanaian Okra Stew from Nigerian Lazy Chef

Fresh okra is out of season, but you can find the frozen stuff in most supermarkets. Chop it while it’s still frozen so that the seeds don’t make a total mess.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

Instead of cooking your collards in pork fat, try this mega-flavorful vegetarian version. The greens are tossed in a peppery vinaigrette, then topped with salted peanuts.

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These can be found in West African and Latin American cuisine, and the chewy, slightly caramelized disks pair well with soup, roast chicken, or rice, or can be enjoyed simply on their own.

(Image credit: Carnal Dish)

6. Sweet and Spicy Garlic Chicken Wings from Carnal Dish

Sweet, tender, and a little bit spicy (there’s Sambal Oelek chili paste in the glaze!), these wings are great as an appetizer or as part of the main meal.

(Image credit: Jehan Can Cook)

7. Whipped Chipotle Sweet Potatoes from Jehan Can Cook

These sweet potatoes are extra rich, thanks to heavy cream and a little bit of brown sugar, and the liquid from canned chipotle peppers adds real spice.

(Image credit: Immaculate Bites)

8. Mealie Bread (South African Corn Bread) from Immaculate Bites

If you’re serving any kind of soup or stew, you’ll need something to sop it up. This cornbread has plenty of fresh corn, and sour cream in the batter keeps the crumb tender.

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

This crispy, spiced catfish will please even those people who are iffy on seafood. Fry it up in advance, then reheat the catfish in a hot oven to crisp it back up.

(Image credit: Foods from Africa)

10. Caramelized Jamaican Rum and Pineapple Dessert from Foods From Africa

Serving fruit for dessert might not sound exciting to some, but these pineapple slices are caramelized in a mixture of butter, honey, cinnamon, and rum. Add a big scoop of ice cream, and you have a holiday-worthy dessert.