29 Recipes That Celebrate the Rich Culinary History of the African Diaspora (2024)

The story of Black History Month begins in 1915 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson—a scholar, historian, and author known as the “Father of Black History”—helped found what is known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In 1926, Woodson and the association launched an effort to celebrate and encourage the teaching of the history of Black Americans in the nation’s public schools and communities. What began as a week of observance expanded into a month, and since 1976 February has been a time dedicated to honoring the past, present, and future of Black contributions—rich with innovation and brilliance—to American history.

Eat the Culture was established to create community-centered spaces that nurture, support, and amplify Black culinary creators. In addition to collaborations like the Black History Month Virtual Potluck, we offer educational resources, virtual courses, and live events to elevate creatives and highlight the culinary heritage across the African diaspora.

For Black History Month 2023, Eat the Culture is examining the journey and evolution of different dishes from Africa to North America and beyond. Our goal is to show threads of connection through Black culture and food as a nuanced celebration of joy, resilience, and resistance.

Our food is magic and medicine. Our ancestors physically and mentally carried African foodways across the deadly Middle Passage to pass them down through generations. With that framework at the heart of this year’s potluck, 29 recipes from amazing Black culinary creatives take you on a food journey spanning various corners of the African continent—showcasing how those dishes, ingredients, and cooking styles evolved as they traveled to the Americas and the Caribbean.

“A large part of my food blogging journey has been to explore how my personal history is connected to the African diaspora,” says Geo Banks-Weston, a creator participating this year. “These potlucks and virtual cookouts have created invaluable opportunities for me to do just that. I'm always amazed by just how much I learn about myself, and about Black food history through participation in the collaborations, and I hope that through my own work I am able to provide some level of education to others.”

There is an African proverb that says, “Once you carry your own water, you’ll remember every drop.” From Jollof to Red Rice, Puff Puff to Barriguitas de Vieja, Maafe to Peanut Soup, and so much more, all of the featured dishes conjure up that remembrance, a shared history. We invite you to join us on this delicious journey.


Okro Soup is traditionally made by cooking okra in a mixture of palm oil, shrimp, meat, fish, and African spices. This dish migrated from West Africa and transformed as it traveled throughout South America and the American South with variations like Caruru Baiano from Brazil, Southern Okra Gumbo, and Callaloo in the Caribbean.

1. Okro Soup With Shrimp & Spinach From Dash of Jazz

2. Okra Gumbo With Shrimp From Food Fidelity

3. Caruru Baiano From Brazilian Kitchen Abroad


Muamba Chicken is a flavor-filled stew—featuring chicken, spices, and palm butter—considered to be Angola’s national dish. It’s typically served with funge, an Angolan staple of cassava flour whisked with boiling water, but white rice would also work well. The technique for stewing chicken seen in this dish has descendants throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and the American South, in recipes like Poulet Creole in Haiti and Pollo Guisado in Puerto Rico.

4. Muamba Chicken From Flights and Foods

5. Poulet Creole From Kenneth Temple

6. Pollo Guisado From A Girl Called Adri


Waakye is a simple, savory rice-and-beans dish native to northern Ghana and enjoyed across the country. To make the dish, both the rice and legumes are cooked in the same pot with West African sorghum or millet leaves for a tender texture and deep reddish-brown color. Eaten any time of day, it’s often served with a variety of condiments. Waakye’s influence can be found in a number of dishes today, from Jamaican Rice and Peas to Guyanese Cook-Up Rice.

7. Waakye From Dash of Jazz

8. Hoppin' John From Her Mise en Place

9. Jamaican Rice & Peas From Big Delicious Life

10. Guyanese Cook-Up Rice From Coined Cuisine


Thiakry is a sweet, creamy, and mildly tangy dessert that is mostly native to Senegal and Gambia. While desserts aren't common in West Africa, variations on rice pudding showcasing the indigenous rice crop appear in the cuisines of several countries both in and outside of the continent, with offshoots like comforting Trinidad Sweet Rice and Southern Rice Pudding.

11. Thiakry From My Sweet Precision

12. Southern Rice Pudding From Begin With Butter

13. Trinidad Sweet Rice From This Bago Girl


What we know as barbecue has roots in a term from the Hausa people of West Africa: babbake, which refers to a method of cooking over a large fire. We can see the West African origins, as well as regional influences that impacted these techniques as they crossed the Atlantic, in cooking today. Dibi is a Senegalese dish consisting of grilled meat (usually lamb) that has been seasoned and cut into pieces. In the West Indies, enslaved Africans forged ties with the Caribs and Arawaks to create the modern form of jerking. Similar ties were established in the United States with Indigenous peoples that co-evolved and refined American barbecue traditions.

14. Dibi Lamb From Be Greedy Eats

15. Brisket Burnt Ends From Meiko And the Dish

16. Jerk Chicken Wings From This Worthey Life

Fufu &Ugali

​​Fufu is a dough-like food found in West African cuisine made by separately mixing and pounding equal portions of boiled cassava with green plantain; it’s closely related to Ugali, an East African dish made with cornmeal or corn flour. Traditionally eaten with the fingers, a small ball of Fufu can be dipped into an accompanying soup, greens, or sauce. As enslaved Africans crossed the Atlantic and landed in the Caribbean and South America, variations of this West African dish emerged with recipes like Haitian Tom Tom and Puerto Rican Mofongo.

17. Plantain Fufu From Healthier Steps

18. Ugali From Kanyi's Kitchen

19. Tom Tom ak Sos Kalalou From Global Kitchen Travels

20. Mofongo From Razzle Dazzle Life


There are many varieties of Maafe, a peanut or groundnut stew, found across West Africa, but common ingredients include chicken, tomato, onion, and garlic. Today, recipes influenced by this dish—including a Peanut Butter Soup with Jamaican flavors and a rich Southern Peanut Soup—appear across the Caribbean and Americas.

21. Maafe From My Pretty Brown Eats

22. Southern Peanut Soup From Savor and Sage

23. Peanut Butter Soup From Britney Breaks Bread


Puff Puff is a popular West African snack food of fried dough that’s served at celebrations of all kinds. Descendants of this recipe can be found across the Atlantic and include recipes such as Barriguitas de Vieja (literal translation: “old lady bellies”), which are commonly served in the Caribbean islands, and New Orleans-style Beignets.

24. Easy Nigerian Puff Puff From Sims Home Kitchen

25. Chocolate Beignets From Chenée Today

26. Barriguitas de Vieja From Sense & Edibility


Jollof Rice is a beloved and passionately debated rice dish originating from the Senegambia region of West Africa. While the dish typically includes a mixture of rice, tomato, and spices, there are nuanced yet distinct differences between the methods and ingredients used across each country in West Africa, particularly Nigeria and Ghana; for example, Nigerian Jollof Rice calls for long-grain rice, whereas the Ghanaian version uses basmati or sometimes jasmine rice. Throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and the American South you can see offshoots of this dish in staple rice-based recipes like Red Rice, Jambalaya, and Arroz Rojo.

27. Jollof Rice From The Prince Eats

28. Red Rice With Jumbo Shrimp From Food Fidelity

29. Shrimp, Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya From Geo’s Table

From Our Shop

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron Round Dutch Oven, 7.25QT $460 More Colors Shop Now
Handmade Pottery Ceramic Spoon Rest $28 More Colors Shop Now
29 Recipes That Celebrate the Rich Culinary History of the African Diaspora (2024)


What food did the Black Diaspora have? ›

The same African heritage staple-dishes are found here: soups and stews are very popular, as are rice and beans, and tubers like yuca and cassava. Okra, peanuts, squashes and plantains appear on many plates, as do fruits and fruit juices like mangoes and guava.

What foods celebrate black history? ›

Soul Food: The cornerstone of African American Cuisine is the child of adversity. Collard greens, cornbread, fried chicken, and sweet potato pie are just a few of the many recipes that tell the stories of survival and community.

What foods are from the diaspora? ›

Africa and the African diaspora are at the root of some of the most popular foods and dishes in the Americas, such as jambalaya, watermelon, yams, black eyed peas, coffee, gumbo, okra, and rice.

What is Africa's national dish? ›

South African Bobotie is the beloved national dish. It is pronounced ba-boor-tea. A true comfort food always served with yellow rice called geelrys. The dish is a minced -curried meat casserole with a delicious egg custard topping.

What fruits did the African diaspora eat? ›

Tomatoes, corn, peanuts, tropical fruits like papaya, pineapple, guava and avocado became incorporated in the West and Central African diet, on the terms of the adapters. Africa enjoyed incredible edible botanical diversity, incorporating crops from every corner of the world.

What was one of the most common foods that slaves ate? ›

The usual diet for slaves was cornbread and pork. Washington wrote that he did not see very much of his mother since she had to leave her children early in the morning to begin her day's work.

What is Africa's culinary Diaspora in the Americas? ›

The last stage of this culinary diaspora was the forced migration of Africans to the Americas through the slave trade, beginning in the 15th century, which brought numerous culinary artists and expert agriculturalists to the Atlantic coast stretching from Argentina to Nova Scotia.

What food did African slaves eat? ›

Food supplies

The plantation owners provided their enslaved Africans with weekly rations of salt herrings or mackerel, sweet potatoes, and maize, and sometimes salted West Indian turtle. The enslaved Africans supplemented their diet with other kinds of wild food.

What food did black inventors invent? ›

Born a slave in 1861, George Washington Carver went on to become one of the most prolific agri-business inventors in American history. He invented crop rotation, and more than 300 uses for the peanut. including Worcestershire sauce, cooking oil, and cosmetics. His work is at the foundation of modern farming.

What are the black history dessert? ›

Sweet potato pie, a beloved Southern classic, finds its roots in West Africa, where sweet potatoes were a staple crop. Similarly, peach cobbler—a comforting dish of baked peaches topped with a buttery crust—has its origins in European and Indigenous American cooking traditions.

What is the role of food in the diaspora? ›

It is also believed that by transferring food and recipes, diasporas are able to retain their culture and traditions within diasporic communities across the world (Werbner, 2002). It has become a common practice among the diasporas to bring food items from their homeland.

What is included in the African diaspora? ›

African diaspora populations include but are not limited to: African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Latin Americans, Black Canadians – descendants of enslaved West Africans brought to the United States, the Caribbean, Central America and South America during the Atlantic slave trade.

What is the greatest diaspora in the world? ›

The word is used in reference to people who identify with a specific geographic location, but currently reside elsewhere. The Indian Diaspora is the world's largest diaspora.

What African food is popular in the US? ›

Jambalaya (mixed rice, meat and vegetables), feijoada (black beans and meat), gombo(okra), and hopping johns (peas) are all dishes that have been re-adapted from Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea and Benin. You will find variations of these dishes in America and the Caribbean region.

What are five traditional food? ›

5 Traditional recipes you need to try
  • Traditional biltong samp and beans.
  • Potjiekos pot cabbage stew.
  • Tripe-stuffed steamed bread.
  • Umqombothi.
  • Beef stew with umhluzi and pap.
Sep 21, 2018

What is the most famous African American food? ›

Please enjoy these few examples of foods and traditions that are rooted in Black history:
  • Banana Pudding. ...
  • Okra. ...
  • Sweet Potatoes and Yams. ...
  • Greens. ...
  • Chitterlings (PKA Chitlins) ...
  • Fried Chicken. ...
  • Tipping. ...
  • Watermelon.
Mar 1, 2023


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Aron Pacocha

Last Updated:

Views: 5929

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (48 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Aron Pacocha

Birthday: 1999-08-12

Address: 3808 Moen Corner, Gorczanyport, FL 67364-2074

Phone: +393457723392

Job: Retail Consultant

Hobby: Jewelry making, Cooking, Gaming, Reading, Juggling, Cabaret, Origami

Introduction: My name is Aron Pacocha, I am a happy, tasty, innocent, proud, talented, courageous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.