What Makes The New Black Panther Wakanda Cookbook So Unique

When it hit theaters in 2018, the Marvel film "Black Panther" quickly became a juggernaut, earning a record-breaking $192 million in ticket sales its opening weekend, according to Dazed. Attending screenings was a sensation, with outlets like the Atlantic reporting fans were dressing up in outfits inspired by Wakanda, the film's fictional kingdom located in Africa. Ruth Carter, the costume designer for "Black Panther," shared with the outlet the inspiration for the on-screen fashion came from contemporary artists and traditional design spread across multiple African nations. In Carter's own words, the fashion was meant to "show the world the beauty of tribal dress and move that forward in a more modernistic way."

Though it's been a few years since the film's debut, "Black Panther" has remained a cultural touchstone: in 2019, the movie took home three Oscars (for Costume Design, Original Score, and Production Design, per the Los Angeles Times) and the film's sequel, "Wakanda Forever," will come out in November of this year. And recently, publisher Simon & Schuster announced an exciting development for the movie's foodie fans: "The Official Wakanda Cookbook," a collection of "Black Panther"-inspired recipes that's now available in stores.

Real recipes inspired by a fictional land

"The Official Wakanda Cookbook" features more than 70 original recipes developed by the Malawian-American chef and writer Nyanyika Banda to pay homage to the fictional Wakanda and to African diaspora cooking overall. The book's recipes for street food, main dishes, desserts, and drinks include roasted chambo, braised oxtail and dumplings, and glazed road runner wings (via Simon & Schuster).

More than just a recipe collection, the book spins an original tale: it centers around the experience of a young Wakanda market stall worker who's selected to become the royal chef to King T'Challa, the monarch portrayed by the late Chadwick Boseman in the film. Banda told the Washington Post that in order to develop the original recipes inspired by the fictional kingdom, they drew not only upon African cuisines but also family recipes. One example is the book's recipe for braised kale with tomatoes, which is a variation on a dish Banda's Malawian aunt prepares.

Dishes were also inspired by practicality for the film's characters. The smoked mushroom jerky, for example, is something Branda envisioned the Dora Milaje, Wakanda's bold female warriors, eating. "I imagined it would be something that would be fueling but that would carry well," the cookbook author told the Post, noting that they scoured the "Black Panther" comic series as well as fan websites while developing the book's recipes. "I was never not thinking about 'Black Panther' fans, hoping they would see the time and thought that went into this," Branda explained.