The season for cooking too much — and sharing it all

A plate of sugar-dusted mandazi
Sugar-dusted mandazi kick off a day of feasting on Christmas morning for L.A. cook and video producer Kiano Moju.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times; food and prop styling by Kiano Moju)

With no gatherings for celebrations this year, I’ve managed to avoid cooking too much for any one meal, slimming down my favorite recipes to feed two. That is, until now. It’s five days until Christmas, and I just can’t not cook a lot. This whole week, I’m baking cookies, cakes and all sorts of fruitcake-like holiday breads that I’m sure no one loves as much as I do (but my friends will still smile and accept them because they’re wonderful people). Come Christmas Eve, I’ll be making way more food than my partner and I can eat, and the leftovers will — as I did for my Thanksgiving spread — go again to friends who are alone for the holiday or can’t bring themselves to cook. And this year, it will be this feast brought to us by L.A.-based cook and video producer Kiano Moju.

Moju starts her holiday with cardamom-flecked mandazi, triangular doughnuts she showers in powdered sugar and eats while hot from the fryer with warm cups of her special blend for chai. Then, the main event: Beef short ribs — a nod to the Kenyan Maasai side of her family — go in the oven to braise for hours in a tomato and red pepper stew influenced by the Nigerian half of her family. To round out the meal, there’s sukuma wiki, thinly shaved collard greens sautéed with tomato, ginger and garlic, and Kenyan chapati, flaky, crisp flatbreads that are a must for any celebratory meal.

For dessert, Moju and her family pile on the couch and eat sticky toffee pudding in bowls, topped with ice cream and drizzled with more toffee sauce — the perfect sweet ending to the holiday. The next morning, the feasting stretches for one more meal: Moju deploys her leftover chapati to make rolex, a Ugandan street food made by pressing chapati onto a fried omelet before rolling it around tomato, avocado and bacon, her California spin on the usual shredded vegetable fillings. All the dishes are simple to execute and loaded with flavor. Sure, each dish makes enough to feed more people than you probably have at home, but they last well in takeout containers and would be a welcome gesture given to those who need just that this time of year.

Coconut and Cardamom Mandazi with Kenyan Chai

Time1 hour 15 minutes
YieldsMakes 2 dozen

Coarsely ground cardamom gives pops of flavor to these sweet doughnuts served with chai.

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Tomato & Red Pepper Stew

Time3 hours, largely unattended
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Nigerian tomato and red pepper stew enriches beef short ribs in this warming braised dish.

Sukuma Wiki (Sautéed Collard Greens)

Time20 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Chopped tomato, sliced garlic and chopped ginger flavor this simple, quick collard greens dish.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Time1 hour 20 minutes, largely unattended
YieldsServes 8

This classic British dessert is best served warm with scoops of cold vanilla ice cream on top.

Rolex With Spinach, Bacon, Tomato and Avocado

Time20 minutes
YieldsServes 2

Tomato, avocado and bacon add a California spin to this Ugandan street-food breakfast.

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