7-part series premieres on Monday, December 26 on Foodnetwork.com and takes a look at the history of this annual holiday.
Tonya Hopkins, aka “The Food Griot,” is teaming up with the Food Network to host a seven-day holiday series, “The Kwanzaa Menu,” that will feature delicious dishes and some of her favorite people to celebrate Kwanzaa and its traditions through food and conversation.
“Celebrating Kwanzaa through good food and drink not only allows us to reconnect to the vibrance of our culinary history that greatly informs who we are as Black people, our very identities — but also to take pride in that which has so profoundly shaped American foodways at large, for centuries,” says Hopkins. “I intentionally chose fresh, naturally delicious, nutritious ingredients for each of the recipes to remind us of the culinary brilliance our ancestors brought to this New World and served up in ways that have long contributed to vitality and longevity.”
Hopkins, who is a legacy cook, drink designer and culinary history consultant, will be joined by series guests to include entrepreneur and actor Kareem Grimes (“All American, For the Love of Jason”); Kenya Parham, cultural strategist, strategic communicator, facilitator, entrepreneur and thought leader, and Tonya’s sister; Dr. Thomas A. Parham, President of California State University, Dominguez Hills, author, scholar and Tonya’s father; actor, director, speaker, author, entrepreneur and food enthusiast Taja V. Simpson (Tyler Perry’s “The Oval”); Blue Telusma, columnist, social justice advocate, and spiritualist; and chef Brittney “Stikxz” Williams who creates dishes spotlighting the Caribbean diaspora.
Each of the seven episodes will give viewers a seat in the kitchen as Hopkin and her guests prepare a special dish that aligns with each of the seven principles. Viewers can join the conversation on social using #KwanzaaMenu and find recipes and more at FoodNetwork.com.
The Kwanzaa Menu Episodes
Umoja (Unity) | Amazing Hibiscus Mulled Wine Kwanzaa Mimosa
Tonya is joined by her sister, Kenya Parham, and they prepare Amazing Hibiscus Mulled Wine Kwanzaa Mimosa, a recipe to celebrate the first day of Kwanzaa and the principle of Umoja (unity), which emphasizes the importance of unity in all areas, including family, community, nation and race. Traditionally libations served in a Kikombe Cha Umoja (Unity Cup) are presented to acknowledge and honor the family units of present and past, and the center black candle of the Kinara is lit.
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) | Crispy Akara (Black-Eyed Pea Fritters) with Savory Smoky Sesame Sauce
The principle of Kujichagulia focuses on building one’s identity as a person and a community and in honor of that, Tonya cooks up her Crispy Akara (Black-Eyed Pea Fritters) with Savory Smoky Sesame Sauce with the help of special guest Kareem Grimes. The majority of Black Americans descended from (or passed through) the West African region and the recipe is a way to make culinary contact and acknowledge that point of origin and ancestral journey. On this day, the first red candle on the Kinara is lit.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) | Good Deeds Greens
In this episode, actress Taja V. Simpson joins Tonya to make Good Deeds Greens, a dish that embodies the principle of the day, Ujima. Ujima focuses on collective work and shared responsibility for both achievements and setbacks in the community and comes to life with this all-hands-on-deck recipe as they work together to clean and dice up the southern-style greens for this special dish. The first green candle on the Kinara is lit.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) | Black Sable Rice Calas
The principle of Ujamaa reinforces the third day’s principle, Ujima, by encouraging support of each other economically and within the community. Blue Telusma helps Tonya in the kitchen to prepare Black Sable Rice Calas and discuss the origin of this dish created by Black women, as well as the history of Black Americans as the first food vendors and successful culinary entrepreneurs in America. The second red candle is lit on the Kinara.
Nia (Purpose) | First Fruits Harvest Smoothie Bowl
The principle of Nia means purpose and encourages us to move through life with intention, being mindful with our words and actions. In this episode, sisters Tonya and Kenya discuss restoration through healthy plant-based living while building this red, black and green First Fruits Harvest Smoothie bowl. On this day, the second green candle on the Kinara is lit.
Kuumba (Creativity) | Yassa-Inspired Grilling
The principle of Kuumba is a time to reflect on leaving the community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it; to celebrate creativity and ingenuity by paying homage to creative works (culinary, visual art, dance, music, literature) focusing on our rich history and vibrant future. Tonya is joined by Chef Brittney “Stikxz” Williams, and they set creativity ablaze, developing a new seasoning blend that incorporates Caribbean influences over open-fire grilling. On this day, the third red candle on the Kinara is lit.
Imani (Faith)| Cassava with Peanut Stew
On the seventh and final day of Kwanzaa, the last green candle on the Kinara is lit for the principle of Imani. Imani acknowledges that at the root of all we do and who we are is spiit. On this day, the focus is on spiritual faith, a faith in one’s infinite possibilities, and a faith that persists through life’s challenges and adversities. Tonya and her father, Dr. Thomas Parham, a distinguished pillar of the community, share space in their family kitchen and learn from one another while making a dish representative of Africans in the New World, Cassava with Peanut Stew.