with a really terrific forward by Jesse J Holland.
“The food of Wakanda is like nowhere else and simultaneously everywhere one could travel in the universe, because Wakanda lives in the heart of everyone.”
These are the opening words of the fictional Ndi Chikondi, Executive Chef of the Royal Palace of Wakanda, in the introduction to this excellent cookbook. Written in Ndi’s voice throughout, this volume presents 73 recipes in its 140+ pages, with musings on both the dishes’ places in Wakanda as well as in African and world cuisines. The ebb and flow of cooking ingredients and techniques worldwide is lightly touched on throughout the book, making for a lovely, subtle grounding of a fictional nation and its cuisine in our real world.
Roughly divided by course, the recipes in this book run the gamut of traditional to modern, from pili-pili sauce to curried aioli, from bissap spritz to cocoa iced coffee. Helpfully, there are brief sections on both ingredients and dietary restrictions near the start of the book, to go alongside the prep notes for each recipe. The brief intros to the latter further evoke the fictional life of the chef, tying this book into the established canon in a way that will delight Black Panther fans. And the illustrations throughout are wonderful, with both fun and dynamic comic art as well as mouthwatering food photography.
Perhaps most importantly, the recipes are all written in a clear style that I very much appreciated for making Wakandan cuisine more accessible for the home cook. Nyanyika Banda knows her stuff and, even better, knows how to make her recipes sound appealing even without the benefit of the gorgeous photography. I appreciated, too, the step-by-step photos for instructions that don’t necessarily translate as well in mere words without a visual guide, such as for folding the samosas and making the ravioli. Overall, this is a great cookbook even for beginner chefs, and highly recommended for anyone wanting to incorporate more African-inspired food into their menus.
Such as myself! I personally believe that red-red is the perfect food, and I love fufu even if I will never have the patience to make it. Neither of those recipes are included here (tho I suppose technically, the roasted plantains and braised beans recipes could be combined for a red-red approximation?) but I really wanted to make something on the traditional side that wasn’t too too difficult. I finally decided to try out the recipe for Okra and Beef Soup, though I made a slight modification, substituting turkey sausage for the ground beef. And while I usually include whole recipes when cooking them for readers, I’m foregoing that today, as I was unable to get a response from the publicist regarding what I believe to be an important oversight in the book: if that changes, I will let you know!
But going back to the recipe as written in my copy of it, I was actually a little worried that salt and pepper was only referenced at the end, as I’m used to seasoning as I go. Fortunately, this didn’t really affect the final taste of the dish, which was delicious! If you do like a little salt, as I do, I recommend adding some when browning the meat. Overall, this was a simple soup to prepare, that honestly doesn’t take too much time or effort to put together, and that you can keep refrigerated for hearty leftovers with lavash on the side. I just bought my lavash from the store, though if you feel like making your own, the recipe for that is also included in this comprehensive volume.
Marvel’s Black Panther: The Official Wakanda Cookbook by Nyanyika Banda was published April 12 2022 by Insight Editions and is available from all good booksellers, including