Add Some African Flavor to Your Holiday Dinner Table This Year with These Popular Recipes


This year has been full of pivots and unexpected twists and turns. Last year my family and I were blessed to celebrate Christmas in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Africa.  This year all of our Holiday celebrations will be different but there are still so many reasons and ways to celebrate and be grateful. 

As we plan Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's  celebrations this year, lets add a few good surprises to the dinner menu. During our family Christmas gatherings my mom would always prepare our favorite Christmas dishes of turkey, ham, greens, dressing, macaroni and cheese and sweet potato pie. Note that we have dressing not stuffing and mashed potatoes have only appeared once in my entire life. Another one of our family traditions is that my mom always prepared a good surprise,  at least one nontraditional dish that we were not expecting but always enjoyed. Some of the surprise dishes over the years were oxtails, stuffed peppers, shrimp and grits, and pork loin, just to name a few.

It has been an eventful 2020 and whether you are celebrating with a small family gathering or virtually, we at the Diaspora Collective would like to encourage you to make your meal even more special by adding a taste of Africa to your menu. Here are a few dishes and drinks suggestions that are often served during celebrations in Africa. We did get to enjoy a few last year and I have shared a few of the dishes at home with friends and family to rave reviews.  Some of the dishes and drinks may remind you of traditional favorites that have roots in Africa. 

Click the name to connect to recipes from some of our favorite websites and chefs. 

Add a African favorite to start

Plantains are a major food staple in Africa and although they look like a banana they are starchy not sweet. Plantains are technically a fruit but served as a vegetable across Africa with preparation varying by country. Plantains can be boiled, roasted, baked or grilled. In Nigeria, plantain is sliced diagonally and fried, to make a dish called Dodo, or roasted on top of hot charcoals to make a popular street food called Bolé. In Ghana, plantains are a popular street food,  Kelewele and are diced, spiced and fried. In the Congo region, plantains are peeled, sliced,  boiled, cut into rondelles and fried in oil to make a dish called Makemba.

Spicy Fried Plantains aka Kolawole or Aloco by Immaculate Bites 

Try a new twist with African spice for the main dish

Tilapia is a fresh water fish that is native to Africa. There are many recipes that use authentic African spices and ingredients to create delicious main meals. Tilapia can be served grilled, sauteed or in a stew. 

African Grilled Tilapia by Immaculate Bites

African Stew is a common dish served throughout Africa and made with many different proteins and vegetables. Stews are often served with a starch such as fufu (boiled and pounded cassava and plantains), banku (cornmeal and cassava), kenkey (ground cornmeal) or injera (sour flatbread)  depending on the country.

Doro Wett , Wet or Wat (Ethiopian Chicken Stew) by Marcus Samuelsen

Groundnut Stew by Duval Timothy, Folayemi Brown and Jacob Fodio Todd

Put a little African flavor on the side

 

Jollof Rice is a favorite side dish or meal and there are battles between east and west Africa on the origin and the best recipes. All I can say is it's delicious and reminds me of southern jambalaya. 

Vegetarian Jollof Rice by Peter Thiam

Jollof Rice by Immaculate Bites

Greens are a common favorite across Africa and the African diaspora. Collards, turnips, mustards, callaloo are all types of greens that are cooked with holiday meals. 

Callaloo & Collard Greens by Carla Hall

Don't forget the sweet dessert or drink  to end with a yummm!

Malva Pudding is a South African dessert that contains apricot jam and has a spongy caramelized texture. A cream sauce is usually poured over it while it is hot, and it is often served hot with custard or ice cream. 

Malva Pudding by Immaculate Bites

Amarula liqueur comes from the marula tree (Scelerocarya birrea) that grows wild across sub-Saharan Africa. It can be served over ice, ice cream or added to coffee or hot chocolate.