9 Cookbooks that Celebrate African Food Across the Diaspora
We've been home more than ever and one of the positives that's come from it is our curiosity and creativity around food has deepened. We've spent more time experimenting with new recipes, new foods or revisiting our favorite childhood meals to feel closer to family.
October is National cookbook month and what better way to keep the at home cooking momentum going than with a curated list of 9 Cookbooks that Celebrate African Food Across the Diaspora.
Africa is an ideal focus because it's home to thousands of cultures all with distinct flavors and ways of preparing food. Interestingly, many African cuisines are influenced by other cultures, depending on their early interactions with the continent. For example, coastal east African cuisine has been heavily influenced by Asian and Arabic cuisines.
So we're sharing a broad mix of African comfort foods perfect for those longer nights and colder temperates. There's a cookbook for every level and taste bud from East to West Africa + a vegan options as well.
Let me know in the comments which cookbooks you'll gift or give a try yourself. I've got my eyes on #1, 7, and 10.
9 Cookbooks that Celebrate African Food Across the Diaspora
9. Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora
In this stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, Bryant Terry captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food.
With contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaires from around the globe, the book moves through chapters exploring parts of the Black experience, from Homeland to Migration, Spirituality to Black Future, offering delicious recipes, moving essays, and arresting artwork.
As much a joyful celebration of Black culture as a cookbook, Black Food explores the interweaving of food, experience, and community through original poetry and essays, including "Jollofing with Toni Morrison", "The Spiritual Ecology of Black Food" by Leah Penniman, and "Foodsteps in Motion" by Michael W. Twitty.
8. Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl
This cookbook will transport you deep into this country’s rich, multifaceted cuisine. Inspired by the depth of Senegalese cooking and the many people he’s met on his culinary journey, these recipes are Pierre Thiam’s own creative, modern takes on the traditional.
Learn to cook the vibrant, diverse food of Senegal, such as soulful stews full of meat falling off the bone; healthy ancient grains and dark leafy greens with superfood properties; fresh seafood grilled over open flame, served with salsas singing of bright citrus and fiery peppers; and lots of fresh vegetables and salads bursting with West African flavors.
In Flavors of Africa, Evi Aki shares the traditional Nigerian dishes she grew up enjoying, as well as typical eats from all across the continent. She introduces customary recipes from each of Africa’s different regions, including meals from Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Angola and more, all of which she collected with the help of relatives and family friends.
Sample tried-and-true staples that have survived generations, like Nigerian Red Stew, Jollof Rice, Moroccan Spiced Lamb and Eritrean Red Lentils with Berbere Spice Mix. Enjoy Evi’s unique spin on classics like West African Egusi Soup and Ewa Oloyin (a vegetarian bean dish), in addition to her lighter and healthier take on traditional African street foods like Zanzibar Pizza.
Whether you’re a foodie, a spicy food aficionado or simply looking for a colorful new cuisine to try, Flavors of Africa is an excellent map for your culinary journey.
Somali chef Hawa Hassan and food writer Julia Turshen present 75 recipes and stories gathered from bibis (or grandmothers) from eight African nations: South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, and Eritrea. Most notably, these eight countries are at the backbone of the spice trade, many of them exporters of things like pepper and vanilla.
We meet women such as Ma Shara, who helps tourists “see the real Zanzibar” by teaching them how to make her famous Ajemi Bread with Carrots and Green Pepper; Ma Vicky, who now lives in suburban New York and makes Matoke (Stewed Plantains with Beans and Beef) to bring the flavor of Tanzania to her American home; and Ma Gehennet from Eritrea who shares her recipes for Kicha (Eritrean Flatbread) and Shiro (Ground Chickpea Stew).
Through Hawa’s writing—and her own personal story—the women, and the stories behind the recipes, come to life. With evocative photography shot on location by Khadija Farah, and food photography by Jennifer May, In Bibi's Kitchen uses food to teach us all about families, war, loss, migration, refuge, and sanctuary.
5. Afro Vegan
Named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks of all time by Bon Appetit magazine. Chef Bryant Terry blends African, Carribean, and southern cuisines in delicious recipes like Smashed Potatoes, Peas, and Corn with Chile-Garlic Oil, a recipe inspired by the Kenyan dish irio, and Cinnamon-Soaked Wheat Berry Salad with dried apricots, carrots, and almonds, which is based on a Moroccan tagine.
Creamy Coconut-Cashew Soup with Okra, Corn, and Tomatoes pays homage to a popular Brazilian dish while incorporating classic Southern ingredients, and Crispy Teff and Grit Cakes with Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Peanuts combines the Ethiopian grain teff with stone-ground corn grits from the Deep South and North African zalook dip.
There’s perfect potluck fare, such as the simple, warming, and intensely flavored Collard Greens and Cabbage with Lots of Garlic, and the Caribbean-inspired Cocoa Spice Cake with Crystallized Ginger and Coconut-Chocolate Ganache, plus a refreshing Roselle-Rooibos Drink that will satisfy any sweet tooth.
The Akan proverb “The good soup comes from the good earth” elegantly sums up Ghana’s tradition of cooking with seasonal, local ingredients. With an emphasis on locally caught fish and seafood, vegetables, fruits and legumes, Ghana’s cuisine is vibrant, healthful, and eminently appealing.
Limited access to wheat and dairy results in a variety of gluten-free, lactose-free, and vegan options using starches such as plantains, cassava, taro, sweet potatoes and millet, and creamy nut-based soups and sauces.
In over 140 recipes that represent all regions of Ghana, the authors highlight flavor principles, seasoning techniques, and basic stocks, with later chapters dedicated to snacks, soups and stews, protein entrees, beverages, baked goods, and much more.
Fifth-generation Tanzanian Shereen Jog shares her recipes for delicious soups, salads, main meals and desserts in this East African–inspired cookbook.
Bursting with the spices and flavors of East Africa and India, from where a large portion of the population originated, these recipes will inspire everyone to cook mouth-watering meals for their family and friends.
The traditional East African favorites in this book have evolved over the years to account for the growth of the region and the various additional cultures that have been imbibed. East Africa has one of the world’s fastest-growing populations, and the new younger generation is worldly wise and thoroughly modern.
Their exposure to global trends means that a new wave of locally enjoyed cuisine is gaining in popularity across the region. The recipe selection in this book is therefore as modern as it is traditional, as healthy as it is wholesome, as organic as it is contemporary – and is influenced by the different cultures found in Tanzania as well as by Shereen’s travels around the world.
Throughout her career, Toni Tipton-Martin has shed new light on the history, breadth, and depth of African American cuisine. She’s introduced us to black cooks, some long forgotten, who established much of what’s considered to be our national cuisine. After all, if Thomas Jefferson introduced French haute cuisine to this country, who do you think actually cooked it?
In Jubilee, Tipton-Martin brings these masters into our kitchens. Through recipes and stories, we cook along with these pioneering figures, from enslaved chefs to middle- and upper-class writers and entrepreneurs.
With more than 100 recipes, from classics such as Sweet Potato Biscuits, Seafood Gumbo, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and Pecan Pie with Bourbon to lesser-known but even more decadent dishes like Bourbon & Apple Hot Toddies, Spoon Bread, and Baked Ham Glazed with Champagne, Jubilee presents techniques, ingredients, and dishes that show the roots of African American cooking—deeply beautiful, culturally diverse, fit for celebration.
1. The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food: A Cookbook
In The Rise, Ethiopian chef, author, and television star Marcus Samuelsson gathers together an unforgettable feast of food, culture, and history to highlight the diverse deliciousness of Black cooking today.
Driven by a desire to fight against bias, reclaim Black culinary traditions, and energize a new generation of cooks, Marcus shares his own journey alongside 150 recipes in honor of dozens of top chefs, writers, and activists—with stories exploring their creativity and influence.
Black cooking has always been more than “soul food,” with flavors tracing to the African continent, to the Caribbean, all over the United States, and beyond. Featuring a mix of everyday food and celebration cooking, this book also includes an introduction to the pantry of the African diaspora.
I hope our list of 9 Cookbooks that Celebrate African Food Across the Diaspora has inspired you to try new recipes, spices and travel the world through food. Take this as an opportunity to incorporate African inspired foods into your holiday menu. Start a new tradition or give the gift of food culture to the favorite cooks in your life.
Looking for the perfect tableware to complete your African holiday feast? Check out the shop www.reflektiondesign.com and don't forget to let me know which cookbooks you're trying in the comments below!
Peace and Joy…I absolutely loved this curation! I’m definitely adding to my collection one by one. Thank you for this gift. 🙏🏾
Thank you for highlighting these diverse authors and they’re beautiful and exciting books. I look forward to supporting many of them. Blessings, Lisa