5 Essential Cookbooks for Exploring North African Cuisine
Score major recipe inspiration (and feed your wanderlust in your own kitchen) with these new cookbooks full of dishes from Egypt, Morocco, and beyond.
No passport is required to taste your way through hundreds of North African specialties. Until you can pack your bags and travel there in real life, you can get a flavor of the region via these tomes. Penned by award-winning chefs, restaurateurs, and food bloggers, these five cookbooks are jam-packed with colorful, warmly-spiced, and unique recipes for every meal of the day.
In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean
Little warms our hearts more than cooking with grandma, or if not that, the next best thing: cooking grandma's recipes. Which is one of the main reasons why we immediately fell in love with this cookbook, which also earned top marks from The New York Times Book Review, NPR, Bon Appétit, The Washington Post, and others. Grandmothers from eight African countries "welcome you into their kitchens to share flavorful recipes and stories of family, love, and tradition in this transporting cookbook-meets-travelogue," the book description accurately summarizes. With 75 recipe from bibis (grandmas) who live in areas on or near the spice trade, this beautifully-photographed cookbook is full of flavor. Master doro wat (a spicy chicken stew), matoke (stewed plantains with beans and beef), shiro (ground chickpea stew), and other African favorites. Somalia native Hawa Hassan and bestselling author and food writer Julia Turshen team up to take us along for the delicious ride.
Buy it: $18.69 (originally $35); Amazon
Flavors of Africa: Discover Authentic Family Recipes from All Over the Continent
Nigerian-native, now-LA-resident food blogger Evi Aki dishes about her childhood favorites —from harissa chicken to spicy bean cakes to Zanzibar pizza — in this extensive and colorful cookbook. Whether you're new to home cooking or are a veteran chef, you'll find a new adventure in the pages of Flavors of Africa. In addition to Aki's own recipes, this includes ideas from relatives and friends who live (or have lived) all across Africa. This is "an excellent map for your culinary journey," according to the publisher, and we couldn't agree more.
Buy it: $19.40 (originally $21.99); Amazon
Related: The 20 Best New Cookbooks of 2020
Casablanca: My Moroccan Food
"A book that is infused with the flavours of Morocco and is as accessible as it is inspiring," says celebrity chef Nigella Lawson of this volume by native Morrocan and London-based MyMoroccanFood.com creator Nargisse Benkabbou. Packed with 100 recipes for weeknights or entertaining, you'll get the hang of tagine cooking, learn how to infuse dishes with scented waters and preserved lemons and be able to build a pantry full of North African staples. Don't miss the Merguez-stuffed squid in tomato sauce, orange zest and turmeric lamb chops or the Ras el hanout carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
Buy it: $24.99 (originally $35); Amazon
My Egyptian Grandmother's Kitchen: Traditional Dishes Sweet and Savory
Magda Mehdawy offers one of the largest collections of Egyptian recipes in one place with this expansive cookbook. Taking inspiration from her own grandmother and elders, Mehdawy takes us all on a tasty historical tour through African food and wine. Organized by category, such as pickles, soups, jams, and desserts, "even chefs already familiar with Egyptian cuisine will find new dishes here," the publisher accurately says. Sample your way through stuffed tomatoes, a variety of meatball-like kufta, grilled fish, and more.
Buy it: $29.95; Amazon
Bilhana: Wholefood Recipes from Egypt, Lebanon, and Morocco
Pre-order now to be among the first to taste the outstanding recipes from Yasmine Elgharably (a self-taught home cook and the co-founder of CairoCooking.com with a passion for Middle Eastern cuisine), Shewekar Elgharably (an interior decorator, certified health coach, and recipe developer) and Yehia El-Alaily (a Cairo-based food and travel photographer). Translated from Egyptian, Bilhana means "bon appétit," which is exactly what you'll want to do after spying the dishes from Lebanon and Egypt in the east to Morocco in the west. In addition to meat and seafood recipes, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan picks, including tomato-and-egg shakshuka, vegan moussaka, pomegranate and guava salad, and more.
Buy it: $35; Amazon
Check out our collection of North African Recipes.