Spice Up Your African Diaspora Culinary Knowledge

Hot Spiced Coconut Chocolate Milk

February is a joyous month honoring leadership, celebrating love and praising our culture. Starting the month of festivities is African Heritage & Health week. A week long celebration encouraging African-Americans to return to their roots and rediscover cooking techniques and ingredients their ancestors ate before the age of processed food.

In 2011, Oldways, an organization dedicated to teaching nutrition and good food via culture and heritage, introduced the African Heritage Diet Pyramid. It was created by experts in African American history, cuisine, nutrition, and public health. The ingredients listed are commonly found in recipes from North America, Africa, the Caribbean and South America. Dishes made with African Diaspora ingredients are generally healthier than some soul food dishes ‘invented’ or ‘revised’ within the last 60 years.

Spices: Cardamon seeds, Star Anise, Nutmeg and Red Chili Pepper

Hot Chocolate Milk originates from ancient Aztec, but today’s cocoa beans also grow in West Africa (make sure the chocolate is from a fair or direct trade source). Traditionally, hot chocolate milk is made with cow’s milk and/or fresh cream and melted chocolate. Today’s instant hot chocolate milk is made with lactic acid, non-fat milk powder, vanillin, too much sugar and chemically processed cocoa powder all mixed into boiling water. It’s so not yum to drink a watered down cup of hot chocolate milk with few nutritional benefits.

Spices strained from milk

Inspired from Oldway’s Diaspora food glossary, I skipped the traditional cow’s milk and cream to use coconut milk for an equally creamy and thick cup of hot chocolate. Before melting the chocolate, the coconut milk is infused with African diaspora ingredients such as a little cumin and spicy chili peppers along with global spices, such as cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom seeds and star anise. Afterwards, the spiced coconut milk is whisked into melted bittersweet chocolate. When enjoying a fresh cup of Spiced Chocolate Coconut Milk, drink it with a spoon or dip a piece of The Duo Dishes’ Glazed Banana Mango Bread into a cup. The flavors will dance in your mouth like  West African drums.

Hot Spiced Coconut Chocolate Milk

While sipping on a cup of Hot Chocolate Coconut Milk, I recommend learning more about African Diaspora ingredients to add to your next soul food meal, follow this pinterest board for food blogger recipes, and dine at a local African Diaspora restaurant.

Leave a comment below to share your favorite recipes incorporating ingredients mentioned in Oldway’s Diaspora Food Glossary and mention your favorite diaspora restaurant (don’t forget the city and state).

Cheers to our health… with love via our culture and heritage.

Hot Spiced Chocolate Coconut Milk

2 servings


  • 14 to 16 oz. canned or fresh coconut milk
  • A dash of sea salt
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • A few whole cardamon seeds
  • A pinch of crushed pepper
  • A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • A tiny pinch of cumin or a few whole cumin seeds
  • A pinch of ground cloves or a few whole cloves
  • 1 whole dried chili
  • 1 vanilla bean; seeded with pod or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips


  1. Heat all ingredients, except vanilla extract (if using... but, add vanilla seed) in a small saucepan. Bring to simmer (don’t boil). Turn heat off. Cover and let spices steep for at least an hour. If steeping overnight, place in a covered container in a refrigerator.
  2. Reheat spice coconut milk if it’s cold, but don’t boil it. Strain the milk and discard the spices and seeds. Set aside.
  3. Bring to boil a little water in a medium saucepan (less than 1 inch high).
  4. Place a tin bowl over the water in the saucepan. Add chocolate chips and whisk until just melted (Make sure the water doesn't get into the chocolate). Slowly whisk in spiced coconut milk.
  5. Pour into two cups. Enjoy.


Milk: Also, substitute any type of full-fat milk, too. Spices: The quantity of spices are estimated. Adjust the amount to reflect a personal taste and control spiciness. Sugar: Coconut milk and bittersweet chocolate is sweet, so the sugar is omitted in this recipe. If a sweeter cup is desired, I recommend experimenting with date sugar, a sweetener derived from dates, another African Diaspora ingredient. Alternatively use honey or brown sugar.


Hot Spiced Coconut Chocolate Milk

6 thoughts on “Spice Up Your African Diaspora Culinary Knowledge

  • February 25, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    My taste buds are already dancing just thinking about this amazing cocoa recipe! I hope you don’t mind us linking to the post – please send me an email if you prefer we don’t. Thank you!

  • February 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    That cocoa looks amazing! This site is wonderful, and I am very glad I happened upon it. This is kind of off topic, but I love Nigerian food! My step-father was Nigerian and my mother learned to make some incredible tasting dishes while they were married. They are no longer together, but I am happy to say my mother always has a pot of smoked turkey stew and fufu ready for me when I come visit!

  • February 5, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Nice recipe. Do you mind if I link to this on my site. I’m trying to incorporate different food recipes. http://www.selfconsiderate.com

    Also, you should try peanut butter soup. Almost in the same realm. Originating in West Africa, but the peanuts came to Africa from South America.

    Not too many west african restaurants in the DC area, but Ghana CAfe is one http://www.ghanacafe.com/

  • February 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    This sounds absolutely delicious — can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing!

  • February 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    I’m a fan of Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant in Philadelphia

Comments are closed.