In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers From the Eight African Countries That Touch the Indian Ocean
In lands that both meet sea and intersect historic crossroads of African and Arab cultures, bibis (grandmothers in Erithrean) of eight East African countries blend family stories together within seventy-five recipes, reflecting the cross-cultural heritage of the kitchens where they still cook dishes passed down for generations. The life of Ma Halima, a bibi raised in predominantly Sunni-Muslim Somalia, summarizes the diversity at the heart of many of these recipes-cum-testimonials. Born in Eritrea, she also lived in Saudi Arabia, where she learned to cook haneeth, “a mixture of rice, lamb, and spices.” Harees (stewed cracked wheat with chicken), a popular Ramadan dish introduced to East Africa “by Arab settlers” is typical of the Zanzibari cuisine of Ma Shara, while in Comoros, “from qamar, Arabic for ‘moon,’” fudge-like roho, infused with cardamom, is a classic wedding sweet. Country profiles and interviews with individual bibis add dimension to this tribute to grandmother’s cooking.