15 Kwanzaa Recipes To Make At Home

Keeping with its roots in ancient and ongoing African first-fruits celebrations, Kwanzaa is all about community, unity and culture. "Some years it's a good harvest, some years it's a bad harvest," said Malaika Tawasufi, a member executive circle of Kwanzaa's founding organization, The Organization Us. "Whatever the harvest, you are very thankful." If you plan to host a Karamu feast this December to celebrate the year's harvest, here are 15 dishes from across the African diaspora you can make at home. 

Fresh Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Made of tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots and doused in a black pepper, garlic, olive oil and honey dressing, this East African side salad will add a welcome vegetarian option to your table. Plant-based and vegetarian options are a Karamu menu must-have. Addressing everyone's dietary preferences helps to keep the meal unified.

For the Fresh Tomato and Cucumber Salad recipe, click here.

Collard Greens

Although this classic Southern collard greens recipe calls for bacon bits, it's best to keep them off your table. When preparing a Kwanzaa feast, you should "always look for reasons for inclusion, not reasons to exclude," Tawasufi said. That means an abundance of veggie options and no prohibited foods from various groups, including pork.

For the Collard Greens With Bacon recipe, click here.

Fried Sweet Plantains

Caribbean foods are also great for your table on Kwanzaa. For the best fried plantains, wait until your plantains are very ripe, otherwise, the bitter taste will overtake the sweetness. Then, follow at-home frying tips to keep the cleaning to a minimum.  

For the Fried Sweet Plantains recipe, click here.

Grilled West African Street Kebabs

Skewer chicken and beef between pepper and mango for a West African street kebab in your kitchen. Serve up the kebabs with a mango slaw and mango piri piri cream. Both recipes are included along with the kebabs. 

For the Grilled West African Street Kebabs recipe, click here. 

Mac and Cheese

Part of celebrating Kwanzaa is personalizing your menu. "Eat foods your family enjoys," Tawasufi said. And who doesn't enjoy the king of comfort food, mac and cheese? This triple-threat gooey, creamy and cheesy mac recipe deserves a spot on any holiday table

For the Gooey, Creamy Mac and Cheese recipe, click here.

Curried Meat Pies

These meat pies are packed with trademark African and Caribbean culinary flavors. To make yours, first prepare the homemade curried pastry crust. Then, using Jamaican curry powder, garlic and much more, season and cook the ground beef filling. Stuff the pastry with the meat mixture and bake. 

For the Curried Meat Pies recipe, click here.

East African Chicken and Lentil Stew

Soups and stews are cold-weather staples. This chicken and lentil stew in particular offers a new take on a famous Ethiopian doro wat chicken stew. But before you cook, prepare to grab just about every spice in your spice drawer. You will have to stir together nearly a dozen spices to make the required berbere mix. 

For the East African Chicken and Lentil Stew recipe, click here.

Red Beans and Rice

You have got to get some classic Cajun and Creole dishes on your Karamu table. These red beans cook in one pot alongside a whole turkey leg. They are best served over a bed of white rice and sprinkled with sliced scallions. 

For the Claw Daddy's Red Beans and Rice recipe, click here.

Roasted Vegetable Suya-Spiced Flatbread

Common in Nigeria, suya spice is a smokey seasoning made by finely blending roasted peanuts and spices like garlic, onion, paprika, red peppers, salt and ginger. After preparing this easy one-hour veggie flatbread, it's up to you to decide whether to serve it with a suya sauce, suya dipping oil or suya "pesto." 

For the Roasted Vegetable Suya-Spiced Flatbread recipe, click here.

Fried Catfish

If in a pinch, put together a Karamu meal centered around this 20-minute fried catfish. Less time in the kitchen means more time to remember, reassess, recommit and rejoice — like the traditional Karamu program intends. 

For the Fried Catfish with Homemade Tartar Sauce recipe, click here.

Jollof Chicken & Rice

Brighten up your feast with this warm orange jollof rice seasoned with saffron, turmeric, tomatoes and crushed red pepper. The hearty rice recipe may be prepared alongside chicken and spinach for a three-course meal in a single skillet. 

For the Jollof Chicken & Rice recipe, click here.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken & Rice

If not up for jollof chicken and rice, cook Caribbean jerk chicken and rice instead. Like the last recipe, this recipe requires just your ingredients, one pot and about one hour of your attention. 

For the One Pot Caribbean Jerk Chicken & Rice recipe, click here.

Chicken and Fennel Stew

Soup strikes again, this time in a West African style. Chickpeas, fennel bulbs and chicken thighs co-star in this filling stew destined to become your new go-to Karamu menu centerpiece. 

For the West African-style Chicken and Fennel Stew recipe, click here.

Ambrosia Salad

During Kwanzaa, there is no reason to let all the freshest and most beautiful fruit laid out on the Mkeka go to waste. You can whip together an ambrosia salad out of fruits and use it as topping and filling in this simple cake recipe

For the Ambrosia Angel Food Cake recipe, click here.

Apple Pie

Close out a communal meal with one last sweet hurrah, a slice of apple pie for everyone. If you prefer bananas, cherries or some other sort of fruit, we've got you covered. Look no further than our collection of the best holiday pie recipes.

For the Perfect Apple Pie recipe, click here.

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