Maybe you have roots in Africa that you’re trying to keep strong during U.S. holidays, or maybe you’re the gourmet chef who has once again been called upon to make Thanksgiving dinner, and you know your guests expect something unique. Either way, check out these African spins on traditional Turkey Day recipes, compliments of NyMag.com (plus a few traditional African recipes). They’ll impress the guests at your table. Thanksgiving Day is Thursday, Nov. 24.
This AFKInsider article was originally published Nov. 26, 2013.
Harissa is a spice often found in Moroccan foods – a hot chili sauce that mainly consists of red roasted peppers, serrano peppers, several other hot chili peppers, spices and herbs. This rub on a turkey gives the naturally-bland-tasting bird a great kick. As the recipe suggests, you can keep leftover harissa spice rub in the fridge for up to two weeks and add it to other meals. See full recipe here.
Since there’s always someone at Thanksgiving dinner who doesn’t like turkey, you’re smart to have another meat dish on the table. Bobotie is a traditional African dish and has a similar look and texture to a casserole—another Thanksgiving table staple. It’s the perfect comfort dish, usually made with minced lamb, beef or both, and filled with delicious spices, fruit and nuts. Find the full recipe here.
Instead of the usual from-the-can, gelatinous and sugary cranberry sauce, try this as your fruity compliment to your turkey. The sweetness of the mango offsets the spice in the harissa rub perfectly, and since the mango is fresh, it has a nice crunch against the roasted turkey. You’ll notice spices in this recipe too, but they’re lighter, crispy ones like cilantro and fresh jalapeno, and pair nicely with the darker, smokier harissa. See the full recipe here.
This dish can serve as one of your “vegetable” sides. It’s a beautiful dish that adds a lot of color to your table. The sweetness of the mangos offsets the spices deliciously, and the dryness and crunchiness of the nuts is a nice addition to the other warm, softer dishes on the table. Feel free to add in shrimp or scallops to make this a seafood dish. See the full recipe here.
Pumpkin mash can replace your mashed sweet potatoes, and nobody will miss the usual starch staple. This is a unique way to incorporate pumpkin into the meal without making pumpkin pie, but it still has all the familiar flavors like cinnamon and brown sugar. An added benefit is pumpkin is very high in fiber, and will help you digest the loads of food you consume on Thanksgiving. See the full recipe here.
Skip the boring green beans and let this be your green dish. The generous portion of bacon gives it a delicious smoky flavor, which mixes surprisingly well with the coconut milk. Collard greens and bok choy get very soft when cooked, and can be eaten in big, satisfying mushy bites. See the full recipe here.
This is a delicious and lighter alternative to apple pie or pecan pie, but incorporates both those traditional Thanksgiving ingredients. The apples are left in generously-sized slices and the pecans are left mostly whole, giving the otherwise soft cake a nice crunch. The cinnamon whipped cream is just a showstopper. See the full recipe here.
No thanksgiving table is complete with at least three desserts and this South African favorite is a great, creamy addition. Swap out calorie-loaded cheesecake with this sweet, light tart. It’s very easy to make, and is sprinkled in Thanksgiving staple cinnamon. It’s served chilled, which is a nice break for the palate after all the spicy dishes. See the full recipe here.
This dessert is perfect for the dieters at the table. It’s a tasty spin on traditional bananas foster, but the peaches make the flavor tropical and add a stunning color, especially once they’re “fostered” with the flame. Find the full recipe here.
And here’s what you’ll do with your leftovers! Surprise everyone at the lunch table the day after Thanksgiving. When they’re expecting turkey sandwiches, serve this stunning salad, which makes a nice, light meal after Thanksgiving dinner. What’s super convenient about this recipe is that it calls for harissa paste, which you’ll already have from the turkey rub. See the full recipe here.