Mail Order Bean Pies are a staple in certain Black American Muslim communities. The sweet, custard-like pie is made with navy beans, cinnamon and sugar. You can also find it in savory versions, which usually comprise mashed beans, cheese and chilies. They can be served with hot sauce or salsa. You can also make a more savory version of the pie to serve at a potluck.
The origins of bean pie aren’t known. Some believe that it was the idea of Lana Shabazz, Muhammad Ali’s cook. Others assert that Wallace D. Fard Muhammad passed the recipe down to Elijah Muhammad, Clara and Clara. These claims are not backed by any evidence. The dish is, however, a symbol for African-American rejection toward white society.
Although the Nation of Islam’s founder, Elijah Muhammad, refused to eat pork, he did encourage his followers to consume low-sugar diets as well as a variety of healthy foods. He also taught his followers about the history and importance navy beans, which were the preferred crop of many African slaves.
A lot of the members have sold their pies but only a handful have made the business an exclusive trade. Some have shipped their pie to Hawaii and California. Some like Muhammad have even started their own businesses. For Imani Muhammad, the bean pie is a way to support her family while providing a healthy and delicious alternative to traditional desserts.
Imani Muhammad began her business in 2007 when she was running her daycare. Her children helped her create and sold pies and she eventually decided to make it a business. Today, Imani’s Original Bean Pies are available in Chicago through Etsy and S.A.W. Variety Store. She plans to open a storefront in near future.
Zakiyyah Shaheed Muhammad was a girl in her early teens and recalls eating a custard pie made from navy beans. It was so fascinating to her that she started looking on YouTube for recipes. While she didn’t find one that was like her mom’s recipe she adapted the recipe and then made it for her husband.
While the Nation of Islam is now considered to be a hate organization, it has created a distinctive culinary tradition based on self-reliance and dietary freedom. Some members sell pies within their communities. Others sell them at special occasions. Still others have made it their sole source of income.
Muhammad is a regular customer. She purchased wholesale pies from a Nation member when she first started in the pie business. Today, she receives a lot of orders from the East Coast, and even ships her the pies to California.
However, Imani’s Original Customers would likely be skeptical of her claims. Despite her efforts to prove that she is the creator of the dish, she’s faced numerous issues. Many bakeries that are independent have shut down. However Imani’s Original Bean Pies are now being sold at specialty stores and through the S.A.W. Variety Store. She hopes to open more food stores and restaurants with a view to expanding.