Parade Magazine’s Community Table: Celebrate Kwanzaa with Senegalese Chicken Thighs with Red Palm and Coconut Rice by Pierre Thiam

Chicken Thighs with Red Palm and Coconut Rice from "Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bow"l by Pierre Thiam with Jennifer Sit
Chicken Thighs with Red Palm and Coconut Rice from “Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl” by Pierre Thiam with Jennifer Sit. Photo Credit: © Evan Sung.

I first learned of Kwanzaa after graduating from college, when a Nigerian-American friend invited me over to her family’s dinner to celebrate the occasion. Years later, I would celebrate Kwanzaa in my home and use it as an opportunity to explore cuisines from the African diaspora: Caribbean, South American and Southeast Asian while contemplating on one of the daily principles. This year, our Kwanzaa could be influenced by Senegal because of the beauty of Pierre Thiam’s cookbook, From Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl.

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Jolloff Rice, A Senegalese-Inspired Dish for Africa Day

Jollof Rice
Jollof Rice

Some would say Jollof, or Benachin, Rice is similar to a Latin American Arroz Con Pollo, a Spanish Paella or Korean Bibimbap. Jollof Rice is a West African dish, primarily from Senegal. The ground spices, such as cinnamon, cumin, coriander and chilies, are what make this rice dish unique and spicy. With Africa being a vast continent, one questions if there are additional spices used in this dish that Western culture has yet to learn.

Based on previous experiments, deciding to write a about an African recipe is a daunting task. With my familiarity of Southern African-American dishes, African cuisine should have been innate. Cornbread, Southern Collard Greens, Brazilian Collard Greens, Blackeye Peas and Sweet Potato Pie are all part of the African diaspora. Since, learning how to cook, there’s been a few African dishes made, but most of them are trashed before anyone knew about it. Read more