Like any major holiday feast, Kwanzaa food is inextricably linked to the meaning of the celebration. The best Kwanzaa recipes are those that help reinforce the cultural aspect of the holiday and are grounded in African and African-American history.
Consider starting your Karamu feast (observed on the last day of Kwanzaa, December 31st) with a bowl of gumbo, a dish that represents the melding of African cultures with those of other countries in the Southern United States. Created in Louisiana in the 1700s, gumbo combined the culinary traditions of West Africa with those of France and Spain.
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The name itself is decidedly African, evolving from the Bantu word ki ngombo, meaning "okra." Gumbos are now made with or without okra as preference dictates. (This one leaves out the okra for the sole reason that fried okra is a popular Kwanzaa food, so you can serve it alongside a bowl of gumbo without okra overkill.)
Oven-Fried Okra Recipe for Kwanzaa
The best part of this Kwanzaa gumbo recipe just might be the aroma that will fill your house at it cooks. Feel free to use this recipe as a template, omitting or adding ingredients as you see fit. Gumbo has evolved hundreds of times over the centuries: making it your own is contributing to the cultural evolution of the dish.
Seafood Gumbo Recipe
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet onion (like Vidalia), chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
4 whole green onions, chop
2 cans chopped fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
6 cups chicken broth (use low-sodium if watching salt intake)
1.5 lbs raw shrimp, cleaned and shelled
1 lb fresh lump crabmeat
1/2 pint fresh raw oysters with liquid
8 oz turkey kielbasa, sliced and pre-browned in skillet
2 tsp file powder
Salt and pepper to taste
*Cooked rice for serving
In a large stockpot, heat oil over low heat and stir in flour until blended. Cook slowly and stir until mixture is a rich, brown roux shade. Add garlic, onion, pepper and green onions to the roux and stir until softened. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, and add bay leaf, Tabasco and chicken broth. Allow to heat about five minutes, then add shrimp, and oysters with their liquid. Simmer about five minutes. Add kielbasa, file powder and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer another five minutes. Serve hot with rice. Serves 8.
Note: Find fresh crab, shrimp and oysters in Knoxville at The Shrimp Dock. http://www.shrimpdockmarket.com/
More Kwanzaa Recipes:
Moroccan Couscous Salad
Easy Baked Sweet Potatoes
Butter Bean Soup
Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin
Sweet Potato Biscuits