Located at the heart of East Africa, Kenya is a wonderful country with beautiful people. The country boasts of diversity and has 42 tribes with different cultures. If you are planning a visit to Africa, Kenya is likely one of the top countries to list.
The Kenyan people have distinctive cultural diversity, with a hospitality and generosity every visitor would enjoy. Apart from the rich wildlife, Kenya has unique traditional foods too. The dishes, made from local food ingredients that give you a menu like no other around the globe.
The following are different traditional foods you should try on your next visit to Kenya.
Originally, this was a dish exclusive to the people of highlands part of Kenya. However, you can enjoy from any part of the country.
Githeri is simply a perfect blend of corn/plantains and beans. You can also substitute beans with green peas. Traditionally, the ingredients are boiled together, then fried with onions, and enriched with your preferred spices.
On other occasions, Githeri can just be salted to retain that natural taste. It is tastier when served with vegetables too.
Locally known as ‘The African Cake’, Ugali is one of Kenya’s staple foods. This is because you can make it effortlessly. It’s by putting maize flour in boiling water, then stirring until the mixture attains a grainy texture.
Kenyans love Ugali because it’s easy to make, delicious, healthy and affordable. It is best served hot with beef stew, spinach, wet-fried chicken or any other traditional vegetables of choice.
This is a dish popular in most menus in any Kenyan hotel.
Some communities, such as the Maasai love it served with sour milk. For those who love whole meals, Ugali is also made from sorghum/millet flour for maximum health benefits and a unique taste.
Chapati (Wheat Flatbread)
Chapati is popular among Kenyans. It is similar to ‘Roti’ – a local delicacy from India. One simply knead wheat flour, divide it into doughs, roll them flat, place on a dry hot pan, once convinced of it’s dry cooked, add some fat on the pan while turning both sides to cook till brown.
Chapatis make a great snack in most Kenyan hotels. For a different taste, they are enriched with onions, carrots and mashed pumpkins. There are a variety of ways of preparation to achieve distinct flavors.
This is one of the oldest traditional foods from Kenya’s Kikuyu tribe. It is a blend of boiled potatoes, pumpkin leaves, green maize, all mashed together, plus some salt to taste.
Mukimo is best when in a smooth consistency. The dish is top of the list in hotels menus in the country. It is best accompanied with steamed cabbage, chicken soup or beef stew.
Wali wa Nazi (Coconut Rice)
Rice is prepared in different ways. However, the Kenyan coconut rice will arouse your taste buds. Wali wa Nazi is a dish from Swahili people living in the Kenyan coastal region. If you enjoy beaches, sun and culture, you need to taste this.
Since coconut is readily available, the rice is uniquely prepared using natural coconut water. The grated coconut, locally called ‘Nazi ‘gives the meal a heavenly fragrance. The dish is flavorful and easy to make. It is best to grate coconut using a traditional grater called ‘Mbuzi’. This makes all the difference.
This is simply plantains made in a traditional Kenyan way. Matoke originally was a preserve of the Kisii people, from the western part of the country. You enjoy wet-fried green bananas seasoned with salt, pepper and other preferred natural spices.
The huge supply of plantains coupled with simple preparation makes it a preferred dish. The health benefits of plantains are reason enough to try out this dish!
If you love sand and beaches, you’ll definitely enjoy Pilau. This is rice, beef and spices, cooked together. It originated from people living in the coastal part of Kenya. The Swahili people treasure flavoured rice during any festivities. For an exquisite taste, goat meat is the best pick. However, white meat lovers take chicken instead of meat.
Kenyan Pilau is tastier accompanied by soup and vegetable salad. The spicy, meaty fragrance gives you a memorable experience.
How about the taste of skewed beef spices? Well, Mishkaki is exactly what you’re after. This traditional food is popular among the Swahili people and it’s a special dish in major hotels. The term Mishkaki literally means ‘Meat on a stick’.
Those pieces of beef or seafood are carefully roasted into soft, smoky meat pieces. The fun part of it is eating the succulent bits of meat, on a special traditional stick. A visit to the Kenyan coast is never complete without this barbequed Mishikaki.
Omena (Fried Silverfish)
This dish was initially a preserve of communities living near Lake Victoria in Kenya, in the western part of Kenya. Omena is a local word for small silver fish (Silver cyprinid), common in freshwater lakes.
The fish is usually sun-dried and later fried. Tomatoes, coriander and capsicum are best cooked with it. For a great taste, you can season with salt, pepper, or natural spices. Omena is nutritious, healthy and a good accompaniment for Ugali (Cornmeal)
Nyama Choma (Charcoal- Roasted meat)
Nyama Choma is a Swahili translation for ‘Roasted meat’. It is a Kenyan traditional delicacy you wouldn’t want to miss. This is simply goat meat or beef roasted over burning charcoal.
The fun part of Nyama Choma is eating it with your bare hands –make sure they are clean. In joints that specialize in preparing it, the meat is served on a wooden board, alongside Kachumbari (fresh vegetable salad).
You can take it with cornmeal, French fries, or rice. Kenyans love enjoying it with friends. Some ice cold beer gives a refreshing feel too.
Mutura (Kenyan Sausage)
Mutura looks like the usual sausage. However, the taste is unique. Unlike sausages, it is made from minced pieces of meat stuffed in the small intestines of cows or goats.
The ground meat and blood are boiled till soft, after which they’re grilled into a mouthwatering delicacy. Mutura is tastier when roasted traditionally. Once cooked, it is cut into ring-like pieces. The smoky taste leaves you asking for more.
Samosas are a popular snack popular in most Asian and African countries. It is a special one in Kenyan homes too. They have an appealing triangular shape.
The snacks are easy to make using wheat flour and minced meat. Potatoes are a great substitute for meat. Wheat flour covers are used to coat the minced meat or mashed potatoes. They are then deep fried till they turn brown and crispy.