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Hawa Hassan + Julia Turshen

In Bibi's Kitchen

Sarah dives into African cooking for the first time in this review of In Bibi's Kitchen — a cookbook that explores East African cooking through the lens of American immigrants.

Why this ranking?

This has quickly become one of my favorite books to cook from. Not only did I get to learn about these various cultures and their amazing food, but I also got to read some of the most heartwarming stories from grandmothers who view cooking as a way to show love to their families and community.

Really the only area that I struggled in was a common one in cookbooks: many recipes underestimate the time required to do a task properly. This often happens due to a writer's desire to make something sound as easy as possible. That being said, if you’re cool taking 10 extra minutes to brown some meat or caramelize some onions, you’ll have no trouble at all.

As someone who is brand new to African cooking, I can say with confidence that this book is a delicious first step.

Why this book?

African food is a group of cuisines I am embarrassingly unfamiliar with. These cuisines haven't been commoditized in the way that so many other cuisines have in America, so any time I've eaten food from Ethiopia or Kenya or Nigeria, it's carried such a strong tie to cultural identity that it felt off limits for me to cook myself.

When I stumbled on In Bibi’s Kitchen back in early 2021, I immediately got sucked into the stories of these incredible grandmothers how they think about sharing their heritage and nostalgia with others. The next thing I knew, I was planning out how I would make mukimo, kicha, kunde, and the other dishes that represent and celebrate these cultures.

I noticed something throughout my week with this book: the dishes tasted familiar. Not in flavors so much, but in the way only food a loving grandmother could make for her family. You can feel the genuine love in every bite and Hawa and Julia did an amazing job translating ingredients so that anyone can cook these dishes. Don't even get me started on the photography! Khadija M. Farah shot in a way that the women and their food featured in this book were beyond beautiful.

If you’re like me and want to take that first step into cooking African food, I highly recommend adding this book to your shelf.

  • Doro Wat
  • Beef Suqaar
  • Mukimo w/ Sautéed Cabbage
  • Zanzibar Pilau