Featured Kenyan Dishes

Ugali

Ugali (Cornmeal Staple)

The undeniable most common Kenyan food staple is ugali – usually made from cornmeal that is added to boiling water and heated until it turns into a dense block of cornmeal paste. Ugali has the consistency of a grainy dough and the heaviness of a brick.

Cooked Chicken

Ingokho – chicken cooked

Ingoho – chicken cooked “Luhya style” by the Luhya tribe of Western Kenya. It is their signature meal, which they serve to important visitors.

Githeri

Githeri (Beans and Corn)

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Pilau

Kenyan Pilau (Spiced Rice)

Pilau is a glorified combination of rice cooked with flavor bursting spices like cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, and cloves. The fragrant rice is fantastic to eat with a form of meat stew and a few slices of fresh tomato and onions.

Biriyani is another form of spiced rice that is a popular Kenyan food on the coast.

Sukuma Wiki

Sukuma Wiki (Collard Greens / Kale)

One of the most popular vegetable Kenyan dishes is sukuma wiki (known as collard greens or a form of kale in English).

The nutritious green leafy vegetable is often cooked in oil with a few diced tomatoes, onions, and flavored with a sprinkle of mchuzi mix (Kenyan food secret flavoring salt – MSG) or stock cube flavoring.

Fish Stew

Kenyan Stew (Fish)

Kenyan stew can include a number of different meats: beef stew, goat stew, chicken stew or any other animal stew. Kenyan stew dishes might also include a few other base vegetable ingredients such as carrots, peppers, peas, or potatoes. The sauce is usually formed from a light tomato base and accented with onion, salt and pepper, and that essential mchuzi mix!

Nyama Choma 1

Nyama Choma (Roasted Meat)

Any Kenyan food list is not complete without a mention of nyama choma, also known as roasted meat. Goat and beef are the 2 most common forms of nyama choma, but chicken (kuku choma) and fish (samaki choma) are also valid choices.

Fat and the grizzle from the meat is the choice part of the animal, and is often consumed with a quick dip into a pile of salt for extra flavoring! It’s also possible at many places to get the “fry,” – the fried meat variation.

Matoke

Matoke (Banana Stew)

Matoke is originally a dish from Uganda, though it is widely available and popular in Kenya as well.

Plantain bananas are cooked up in a pot with some oil, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilies, meat (optional), and lemon juice. The bananas are cooked until they become soft and begin to form a thick sauce with the other ingredients.

The result is a delicious dish that is reminiscent of boiled potatoes in sauce and excellent to eat with rice, ugali, or a chapati.

Chapati

Chapati (Flatbread)

Chapatis in Kenya can trace their origin from the influence of the Indian population. Kenyan style chapatis are made with a flour dough that is wound into a coil before being rolled into a flat round circle. The dough is then fried on a skillet accompanied by plenty of oil so it becomes crispy on the edges but remains moist and doughy on the interior.

Chapatis can be considered more of a special form of Kenyan food, a treat to eat. Chapatis go well with fried cabbage, beans, or even just rolled up with a cup of tea!

Kachumbari

Kachumbari (Tomatoes and Onions)

The simple formula of diced tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, cilantro, and sometimes avocado, is a natural power combination of vegetables that cultures all the way from Mexico to Kenya have discovered. Kenyans enjoy kachumbari as a garnish, a side salad that accompanies things like nyama choma or beans.

Bajia

Kenyan Bajias

There are multiple forms of what is commonly known as bajias. The Kenyan variety (sort of borrowed from India) is normally what can be described as glorious spruced-up plate of awesome french fries (chips).

Chips Masala

Masala Chips (French Fries Masala)

he dish starts with a greasy plate of freshly deep fried french fries (chips).

Tomato sauce, chili sauce, herbs, cilantro, and whatever else the chef decides are all added to the fries, coating them in a luscious sauce that will have you licking your fingers and the plate!

Mandazi

Mandazi (Kenyan Doughnut)

hey can be smelled from a kilometer down the street, that lovely familiar scent of a blob of deep frying dough.

The smell is enough to entice anyone to make a mandatory mandazi stop.

Mandazi’s make a great snack or a light breakfast with a cup of sweet chai.

Mahindi Choma

Grilled Maize

One of the most popular on-the-go snacks in Kenya is a cob of roasted maize. The corn is picked when it has become mature, so it’s a dry starch that is perfect for roasting over hot embers.

As the maize roasts, some kernels pop like popcorn while others blacken to a crunchy crisp. Some street stall vendors will supply a chili lime salt garnish for the grilled maize.

Chai

Chai (Kenyan style tea)

Kenyan coffee is one of the more famous varieties on earth, yet it is tea that is the popular hot drink of choice for many locals. Kenyan tea is brewed dark, mixed with plenty of whole fat milk, and sweetened up with a few heaping tablespoons of sugar.

Uji

Uji (Fermented Porridge)

Porridge traditionally made from fermented millet, corn flour mix or a mixture of millet flour, maize meal and powdered milk. Because of its high nutritional value, uji is a popular drink prepared for infants, adolescents, nursing mothers and those who are sick

A typical Day

To Start the Day

Generally, most Kenyans start their day with Chai (Swahili word for tea), this is usually very milky and sweet. Accompanying the chai is just a hunk of bread (mkate in Swahili) and maybe a piece of fruit. In more affluent households, in the city and coastal areas, you’ll find mandazi.

Drinks and Snacks

As tea and coffee is grown in Kenya these are the favoured beverages across the country. Both the tea and coffee is so good, many travellers end up taking some home with them. In the more rural areas you’ll find maziwa lala, which is a fermented milk, it is easily digested by someone that is lactose intolerant, which many Kenyans are.Sodas are of course popular all over the world and Kenya is no exception .These golden snacks are available everywhere from sit down restaurants to Nairobi street food pushcarts.

Street foods

are popular in and around the markets, which are found all over the country. The more popular street foods are:Mishkaki (small skewered meat pieces BBQ’d on an open fire); Corn on the cob charred on the open fire still in their husks; Samosas, a dish showing India’s influence on the country, samosas are small triangular deep fried parcels with spicy meat or vegetables inside; And of course hot chips, usually covered in glowing msg laden sauces like chili and tomato sauce, and whatever herb may be available at the time. Plantain crisps, made from the plantain banana, are sold all over Kenya; in supermarkets and on street markets

Lunch and Dinner

The main staples of Kenyan cuisine are: Maize meal (called Ugali when cooked and unga when raw) and rice. Rice can be served in so many different ways, but usually it is plain boiled rice.

Stews:
Are mainly served for lunch and dinner, they can either be vegetarian
like maharagwe (a tasty bean dish with onions, tomatoes and spices all
boiled together, making a thick bean sauce) or a meat stew, normally goat. Served with the ugali and stew is a vegetable dish made from kale, onions and tomatoes called skuma wiki (which literally translated means ‘stretch the week’). Kale, like many vegetables, grows all over Kenya and is found in most gardens. Another vegetable side dish that is
popular is kachumbari, which is basically a tomato, chili and onion
spicy salsa, good for waking up your taste buds.

As a treat, the stews are sometimes served with chapatis, which is an Indian flatbread, the dough is freshly prepared and then rolled very flat before being shallow fried in plenty of oil, served warm, they are soft and pliable but have a lovely crisp edge, they are great for mopping up the juices of the stew.

Then of course there is “nyama choma” – which translates as burned meat! But is a flavoursome Swahili barbeque. The meat is usually beef or goat and occasionally chicken.

Hopefully this has whet your appetite to go there and try some for yourself.