“The pantry is the soul of the diasporic kitchen, where hardship has been alchemized into, for my money, the richest, deepest, most delicious flavors of the world,” says award-winning chef Kwame Onwuachi in his new book, “My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef” with Joshua David Stein (Knopf). Onwuachi grew up in the Bronx, spent time in Nigeria with his grandmother and in Louisiana with his mother, all experiences that shaped his vision of the diversity of American cuisine. The book, part memoir, takes you on Onwuachi’s journey, where he travels to meet relatives, exploring the foods of the African diaspora, and cookbook with over 125 recipes that bring the flavors of his family’s stories to the plate. A James Beard Award winner, “Top Chef” contender and judge, with other accolades, Onwuachi trained in French techniques at the Culinary Institute of America and has cooked in fine dining restaurants. But in the book, he brings us global home dishes and lists the origins of each recipe. He starts with instructions for spice blends — first, a universal Creole house mix that can go onto everything, a suya blend that originated in Nigeria, to a fiery berbere from Ethiopia. There are recipes for Nigerian jollof rice and fried pillowy puff puff, Senegal’s chicken yassa, and the Jamaican beef patty. You find recipes for crawfish pie and jambalaya from the American South, and soursop granita, the icy treat sold at stands in the Bronx, and more. Aside from the recipes, Onwuachi’s personal journey alone is a thought-provoking read. $35. Available at bookstores and online book sellers.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at email@example.com.