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African cuisine is diverse and full of flavors and spices, and there’s no better way to explore it than through a cookbook. Whether you’re looking for traditional dishes from Ethiopia, Nigeria, or Ghana, or modern takes on African-inspired cuisine, there are plenty of cookbooks to choose from.
From vegan African recipes to North African cuisine, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best African cookbooks that will take you on a culinary journey across the continent.
In Bibi’s Kitchen – Best Overall
This incredible cookbook, which has the full title: In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean, was published in 2020 and written by Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen.
The book features the recipes and stories of grandmothers from eight African countries connected by the Indian Ocean: South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, and Eritrea.
The word “bibi” means grandmother in Swahili, and the book is a tribute to the traditional cooking and hospitality of grandmothers in the region.
The book features over 75 recipes, ranging from stews, curries, and grilled meats to snacks, sweets, and drinks. Each recipe is accompanied by a personal story from the grandmother who shared it, giving readers a glimpse into each country’s cultural and culinary traditions.
Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa – Premium Option
Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa is a beautiful cookbook that was published by Yohanis Gebreyesus in 2019. It won several awards, including the James Beard Award for Best International Cookbook in 2020.
The book is a celebration of Ethiopian cuisine, which is known for its distinctive flavors and use of spices. Gebreyesus, who is a chef and food writer, was born and raised in Ethiopia, and he brings his knowledge and passion for the country’s cuisine to the book.
The book’s recipes combine traditional Ethiopian dishes and modern interpretations, all with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Flavors of Africa: Discover Authentic Family Recipes from All Over the Continent – Best Budget Option
Flavors of Africa is an affordable addition to anyone’s kitchen. The book was published in 2018. The book is a collection of authentic family recipes from all over Africa. Aki, who is of Nigerian descent and grew up in Sierra Leone, was inspired to write the book to preserve and share African cuisine’s diverse and delicious flavors.
The book features numerous recipes, including stews, soups, salads, snacks, and desserts, all accompanied by colorful photographs. Aki has included recipes from different regions of Africa, including West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, and North Africa.
Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed
Afro-Vegan is regarded as one of the best vegetarian/vegan cookbooks ever. It was published in 2014 and has a huge following, with cooks worldwide trying out the recipes. The book was written by chef and food justice activist Bryant Terry.
In the book, Terry presents more than 100 new and incredibly unique food combinations inspired by the African Diaspora’s favorite staples, ingredients, and classic dishes. He also spends some of the book sharing his insights about building a community around food, song from around the world that he likes, and suggestions of other books.
The Art of Fufu: A Guide to the Culture and Flavors of a West African Tradition
The Art of Fufu is another great option if you’re looking for an African cookbook to try out. It was published in 2021 by Grubido and focused on fufu, a staple food of West Africa. The best-selling book discusses ingredients and culinary history and shares a wide variety of recipes, all dedicated to showcasing fufu.
In addition to the recipes, The Art of Fufu delves into the cultural significance of fufu and how it is eaten in West African communities. The author, Grubido, is a chef and food writer from Ghana, and he brings his personal experience and knowledge to the book.
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen
Full title, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen: An Introduction to New African Cuisine – From Ghana With Love; this is another very well-regarded cookbook that was published in 2021. Famed chef Zoe Adjonyoh wrote the book.
The book’s recipes include vegetarian and meat-based dishes and cover a wide range of categories, including appetizers, soups, stews, salads, and desserts. Some featured recipes include jollof rice, plantain pancakes, groundnut soup, and grilled tilapia with spicy peanut sauce. Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is a wonderful introduction to the flavors and culture of Ghanaian cuisine.
Africana: More than 100 Recipes and Flavors Inspired by a Rich Continent
Africana is a new cookbook that was published in 2023. Lerato Umah-Shaylor wrote it and took readers around the African continent, testing out various flavor combinations and recipes.
The book includes more than 100 recipes that feature dishes from Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, Madagascar, and more. Some of these include Spice Island Coconut Fish Curry and South African Malva Pudding.
In addition to the recipes, Africana features stories and insights into African cuisine’s history, culture, and ingredients. It also includes beautiful photography of the dishes and the people and places that inspired them.
The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent
The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent by Jessica B. Harris is a cookbook that explores the diverse cuisine of Africa, featuring recipes from all regions of the continent. The author, a renowned food writer, and culinary historian, provides insight into the history and cultural significance of the recipes she presents.
The book includes over 200 recipes, ranging from simple and traditional dishes like Egyptian Ful Medames and South African Bunny Chow to more complex dishes like Algerian Chicken Tagine and Ethiopian Doro Wat. The recipes are accompanied by beautiful photographs and Harris’s anecdotes and stories about the dishes.
In addition to the recipes, the book also includes information about African ingredients and cooking techniques and a section on traditional African drinks such as palm wine and hibiscus tea.
Saka Saka: South of the Sahara – Adventures in African Cooking
Saka Saka is a book by Anto Cocagne that takes readers around Africa to countries including Ethiopia, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and more. Here, readers are introduced to incredible recipes for everything from street food to side dishes, desserts, and appetizers.
The book is filled with incredible photographs taken by Aline Princet and stories from the people who know these recipes the best — local chefs, artists, and everyday people whose love for these dishes is featured in short essays about their experiences. The book is a beautiful celebration of African cuisine, history, and contemporary people across African nations.
Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl
Senegal was published by Pierre Thiam and Jennifer Sit in 2015 and features photographs from Evan Sung. The book features over 100 recipes from Senegal, highlighting the country’s rich culinary traditions and the flavors of West Africa.
In addition to recipes, the book provides information on Senegalese ingredients, cooking techniques, and cultural practices. The authors also share personal stories and insights into the country’s food culture, making the book a rich and engaging read for anyone interested in exploring the cuisine of Senegal.
The book includes recipes for appetizers, salads, soups, and desserts, as well as suggestions for pairing dishes with Senegalese drinks.Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl are a fantastic addition to anyone’s kitchen.
West-African Cookbook: Traditional Food Recipes from the Most Populous West African Countries
The West African Cookbook is a 2022 publication written by Chidiebere Anegbu. The book includes beautiful photos of high-flavor and very detailed recipes that make cooking these amazing dishes easy.
The book focuses on the way that recipes unite the people of West Africa with a focus on staples like banana, okra, yam, millet, and plantain. The book includes over 200 photographs and includes recipes for every occasion.
East African Cookbook
This wonderful cookbook was published in 2020 by Shereen Jog. As a fifth-generation Tanzanian, the author shares her much-loved recipes for everything from soup to desserts in the East African Cookbook. These recipes all originate in East Africa but include inspiration from other countries around the world. It’s a very modern take on traditional foods that features easy-to-read and understand recipes and beautiful photos.
The recipe selection in this book is influenced by the different cultures found in Tanzania and Shereen’s travels.
Vegan Africa: Plant-Based Recipes from Ethiopia to Senegal
This is another amazing plant-based African cookbook. Marie Kacouchia published this fantastic collection of recipes in 2022, and it has since been received very positively.
Vegan Africa is filled with plant-based recipes from different countries in Africa, including Ethiopia, Senegal, Nigeria, and more. The book offers over 75 vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free recipes, making it accessible to a wide range of dietary needs. Author Zoe Adjonyoh takes readers on a culinary journey through Africa, exploring the diverse flavors and ingredients of the continent.
The recipes in the book range from traditional dishes with a vegan twist to new creations inspired by African ingredients and flavors. The book also features vibrant photography that showcases the beauty of African ingredients and dishes.
Enebla: Recipes from an Ethiopian Kitchen
The beautifully designed Enebla is a 2022 cookbook published by Luladey Moges. The book includes more than 65 recipes inspired by Ethiopian cuisine, amazing photographs of almost every recipe, and easy-to-read directions that anyone can follow.
The book was inspired by the author’s youth growing up in Addis Ababa and learning cooking from the older women in her life, including her mother, aunts, and grandmother.
The cookbook introduces Ethiopian cuisine and culture, highlighting the importance of communal dining and the use of spices in Ethiopian cooking. The recipes in the book cover a wide range of dishes, from stews and soups to vegetarian and meat-based dishes.
Tekebash and Saba: Recipes and Stories from an East African Kitchen
Tekebash and Saba is another great African cookbook featuring East African recipes. It was published in 2023 and includes the life story and recipes of Tekebash and Saba, a mother-daughter pair. The two describe their home, how food unites their community and family, and provoke empathy and understanding in the reader as they navigate a food-inspired narrative.
The book allows readers to explore their love for food, discover new recipes, and learn more about Tigray, Ethiopia’s culture and history. It’s the perfect option for someone interested in not just learning about African food but the history of specific regions in Africa as well.
The Ultimate South African Cookbook: 111 Dishes From South Africa To Cook Right Now
This huge South African cookbook features 111 recipes written by Slavka Bodic and published in 2021. The book’s recipes are all inspired by South African cuisine and presented in a way that everyone, from experienced chefs to new cooks, will enjoy experimenting with.
It’s a great option if you’re new to African cooking and are interested in trying out some unique and tasty recipes from South Africa.
What To Look For In An African Cookbook
When choosing an African cookbook, there are a few things to consider to ensure you’re getting the best one for your needs.
One of the first things you’re going to want to consider is the region of Africa you’re interested in exploring. The region of Africa plays a significant role in its culinary traditions, so it’s important to choose a cookbook that reflects the region of interest.
For instance, North African cuisine is characterized by its use of spices, while West African cuisine often features starchy staples like yams and cassava.
Difficulty and Skill Level
Something else you’re going to want to consider is the level of difficulty the recipes have and whether they align with your cooking skills. Some cookbooks are tailored for experienced chefs and may feature complex cooking techniques, while others offer simpler recipes that are ideal for beginners.
Additionally, if a cookbook is quite complicated, it might ask you to use techniques you don’t know or include ingredients you don’t have access to. This could ruin your experience with the book or even the cuisine as a whole.
Traditional or Modern
It’s also important to decide whether you want a cookbook featuring strictly traditional recipes or a mix of traditional and modern dishes. Some cookbooks may provide a modern twist on traditional dishes, while others may include entirely new recipes inspired by African cuisine.
The more modern dishes are likely to be more accessible for new cooks and include ingredients that you’re more familiar with. The more traditional recipes are likely to include spices and other items that might be harder to find or even techniques that you aren’t sure how to carry out.
It’s also important to consider that some traditional dishes are quite specific in their flavors and may not appeal to everyone who tries them. Modern dishes are often geared toward the types of food and flavors that readers are already used to.
Context and History
Lastly, you may also want to consider whether the cookbook provides cultural context, such as history or personal anecdotes, and if it includes high-quality photos to help guide you in the cooking process. Having photos of each dish can be incredibly helpful. Plus, most people enjoy browsing cookbooks as much as they do actually cooking.
Top African Cookbooks, Final Thoughts
African cuisine is rich in diverse flavors and spices, and exploring it through cookbooks is a wonderful way to expand your culinary horizons. When selecting an African cookbook, consider the region, difficulty level, and whether it offers traditional and modern recipes.
Our top picks for African cookbooks include a range of cuisines, skill levels, and styles, so you can find the perfect one to inspire your next culinary adventure.