Every time I think of traveling to a country or continent for the first time, my first thought goes to the kind of food I will be consuming throughout my stay. Though most places are diversifying and incorporating globally known delicacies, it is always good to try out the local dishes.
So if you are visiting my country, I would like to share some of our Kenyan Main Dishes. Though some dishes are found in other countries and may not be unique. The taste and mode of preparation is what makes them Kenyan.
Nyama Choma with Ugali/Kienyeji/Potato and Kachumbari
Nyama Choma is Swahili for roasted meat, this is a delicacy common during celebration or an event. It is also very common with beer drinkers during their get together.
It ranges from beef, goat meat, pork or chicken roasted on an open charcoal grill where in most places it is roasted on order hence served fresh and juicy. You get to choose the amount you need roasted, portions given from 1/4 kg. There is also the option of frying the meat with onions and tomatoes referred to as Nyama Fry.
The meat can be served with Ugali (maize flour thick paste), or Kienyeji/irio (mashed potatoes mixed with maize and pumpkin leaves) or potato wedges. This is also accompanied with Kachumbari (a mixture of diced tomatoes, onions, chili with an option of avocado).
Fish with Ugali and Vegetables
Fish is a common delicacy for the Luo tribe of Kenya and for the people living around Lake Victoria as their main activity in this area is fishing. This dish has spread to other parts of Kenya with tilapia being the most common. There are also Nile Perch and Omena (a small silvery sardine like fish eaten whole).
The fish is either deep-fried or made with a stew and served with Ugali. There are also traditional vegetables served on the side or spinach with a lemon to add flavor to the fish. This meal is mainly eaten using your hands and one is required to peel off the fish from its bones structure, pinch some ugali and vegetable in one bite.
This is a dish which originated from the Arabs who used to come to East Africa for trade through the Indian Ocean. Hence, the dish is common in the Coastal Kenya region though not an original Kenyan delicacy.
Basically this is spiced rice cooked with either beef, chicken, mutton, goat meat or even prawn made to be tender and spicy. Some variations include potatoes and boiled eggs. Worth a try especially when visiting the coast.
This is spicy rice common with the Swahili people but it has started to gain popularity all over Kenya. It is a dish that never misses in Swahili functions. It is made up of rice, fried onions, big pieces of meat, potatoes and a lot of spices. The ingredients are cooked together in one pot and can get served with vegetables and kachumbari.
Wali wa nazi with Beef/Beans/Samaki wa kupakwa
Wali wa Nazi is Swahili for coconut rice. This is a coastal delicacy since coconuts are readily available in the Coast. Fully grown coconuts are cut open, grated and the whites flakes are squeezed to give out coconut milk. The milk is added to the rice and in another variation the flakes are cooked with the rice.
The rice is served with either beef, beans, chicken or samaki wa kupaka (coconut glazed fish) which also has some coconut milk added to them to enhance the flavor.
Chapati Beef/Bean Stew
Chapati is a form of flatten bread fried on a skillet with lots of oil. This was introduced to Kenya by the Indians who came in during the colonial time and were involved in the building of the first railway in the country.
Chapati was a delicacy reserved for celebrations in the olden days but people loved it so much that it became an everyday delicacy in most homes. Now it is a common dish in most local restaurants.
It is normally served with either beef/chicken stew, bean/lentil stew or eaten as a snack or for breakfast.
This is a delicacy of the Kikuyu tribe of Kenya. This is made from a mixture of beans and maize boiled together in a pot till soft. The mixture is then fried up with some vegetables like tomatoes, coriander, bell peppers. It can also be eaten in the boiled state by just adding salt.
Though the meal is considered as a poor choice and not one of the talked about meals, you cannot miss it in the local restaurant’s menu.
This is also a delicacy of the Kikuyu tribe. This is made up of potatoes, maize, pumpkin leaves boiled together then mashed to a thick paste. Some variation can include bean, peas or eliminate the maize. Some go to the extent of frying the paste with onions and tomatoes to add flavor.
This dish is a starch eaten with meat, chicken, vegetables stews or can be taken on it’s own for breakfast or a snack.
This is a delicacy of the Kisii tribe of Kenya made from bananas which is their staple food. The dish is prepared with raw bananas either fried to form a stew or boiled then mashed. Some variations do add in potatoes and carrots and spices to add in more flavor.
When in Kenya, don’t hesitate to try any of the mentioned dishes though some are not completely unique to Kenya only, the mode of preparation maybe different giving a different taste.
If you would like to stick to your usual dishes, well most hotels in Kenya do serve international dishes so you can have them prepared by the chef on request.
What are your thoughts about the above mentioned foods or which other foods should I add to the list. Feel free to add your thoughts, comments or experience with the Kenyan foods mentioned above or those you have tasted.