Did you know Kwanzaa was founded by a UCLA alum?
Maulana Karenga introduced the holiday during the frenetic days of the 1960s civil rights movement. He saw Kwanzaa as a way to celebrate black culture and connect African Americans to their heritage halfway across the world.
Each of the holiday’s seven nights is associated with a different principle. These include unity, self-determination, and faith.
On the sixth night, designated for creativity, families and groups of friends celebrate the Feast of Karamu. Dishes can vary, but they’re usually linked to African or African American cuisine.
Food historian Jessica Harris tells Good Food host Evan Kleiman that she likes to serve Chicken Yassa, a Senagalese dish infused with multiple layers of flavor from grilling, stewing, and a lemon juice and onion marinade.
She also enjoys spicing okra, corn and tomatoes with habanero chile.
What are you planning to make for Kwanzaa?
Chicken Yassa (Yassa Au Poulet)
(From Jessica Harris)
This is the first dish that I tasted on the African continent that launched me on my culinary journey of discovering culinary connections between the African continent and our hemisphere.
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 large onions, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 tablespoons peanut oil
1 habanero chile, pricked with a fork
1 2 ½- 4 ½ pound frying chicken cut into serving parts
½ cup water
The night before. Prepare a marinade by mixing the lemon juice, onions, salt, pepper, and 4 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a deep bowl. Prick the chile with the tined of a fork and add it to the marinade as well. When the dish has reached the desired heat, remove it. Place the chicken pieces into the marinade, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat the broiler. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, reserving the marinade and the onions. Place the pieces on the broiler rack and grill them briefly, until they just lightly browned on both sides. Set aside. Drain the onions from the marinade. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a deep skillet and sauté the onions over medium heat until they are tender and translucent. Add the remaining marinade and cook until the liquid is heated through. Add the chicken pieces and the water and stir to mix well. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the chicken pieces are cooked through. Serve the yassa hot over white rice.