Discover The Flavors of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa, celebrated from December 26th to January 1st, honors African-American heritage and culture. Founded in 1966, it focuses on seven core principles reflecting community values and aspirations. The Karamu feast on December 31st is central to Kwanzaa, featuring dishes that represent African diaspora cuisines. In this spirit, we share three recipes: African Peanut Stew, Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread, and Jamaican Jerk Chicken, each embodying Kwanzaa's rich culinary heritage. Let's explore these flavorful dishes that connect us to the holiday's cultural roots.

To learn all about Kwanzaa, head to The National Museum of African American History & Culture at the Smithsonian.

African Peanut Stew


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 sweet potato (about 1 lb.)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup natural-style peanut butter
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 bunch collard greens (4-6 cups chopped)

Optional Garnishes

  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  • 5 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts


  1. Peel and grate the ginger using a small-holed cheese grater. Mince the garlic, and dice the onion. Sauté the onion, ginger, and garlic in a large pot with the olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion becomes soft and translucent.
  2. While the onion, ginger, and garlic are sautéing, peel and dice the sweet potato into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the sweet potato cubes, cumin, and red pepper to the pot and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste, peanut butter, and vegetable broth to the pot. Stir until the peanut butter and tomato paste have mostly dissolved into the broth. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to high. Allow the stew to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are very soft.
  4. While the soup is simmering, prepare the collard greens. Use a sharp knife to remove each stem (cut along the side of each stem), then stack the leaves and cut them into 1/2-inch wide strips. Place the chopped collard greens in a colander and rinse very well
  5. Once the stew has simmered for 15-20 minutes and the sweet potatoes are very soft, stir in the collard greens. Let the stew simmer for about 5 minutes more, then begin to smash the sweet potatoes against the side of the pot to help thicken the stew.
  6. Finally, taste the stew and add salt or red pepper, if desired. Serve the stew with a scoop of cooked rice (about 3/4 cup), a few chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro, and a drizzle of sriracha, if desired.

Cast Iron Skillet Corn Bread


  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely ground cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and place a 9-inch cast iron skillet inside to heat while you make the batter.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk in the milk, buttermilk, and eggs. Whisk in almost all of the melted butter, reserving about 1 tablespoon for the skillet later on.
  3. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Coat the bottom and sides of the hot skillet with the remaining butter. Pour the batter into the skillet and place it in the center of the oven. Bake until the center is firm and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and serve.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken


  • 10 chicken legs
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 TB light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 TB dried thyme
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ – ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425F with rack on lower middle position.
  2. In a bowl, combine all remaining ingredients to form a spice rub/paste mixture. Set aside.
  3. Use paper towels to thoroughly dry chicken legs of excess moisture. Use fork to poke holes on all sides of chicken legs. Evenly spread the rub mixture underneath the skin of chicken legs – use clean hands to really push the mixture as far underneath skin as you can – as well as on top of skin.
  4. Place chicken on large rimmed/foil-lined baking sheet, with space in between each piece. For smaller-sized chicken legs, bake about 40 minutes; for larger-sized chicken legs, bake about 50 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve immediately, with drippings from baking pan.