Introduction

 

Kenyan dishes are rich and diverse, a representation of the multicultural communities in the country. Still, the Kenyan menu has a similar structure regardless of where you are in the country. See, most locals prefer starting their day with a hot cup of milk tea served with starchy accompaniments. And Ugali is the preferred source of starch during lunch or supper. Likewise, chapati features in most homes, restaurants, and festivities during dinner. Then, here are ten mouth-watering Kenyan dishes you may want to try: –

 

The Kenyan Dishes

 

1.      Ugali

Ugali

Ugali or Sima is undoubtedly the national dish in Kenya. It comprises thickened maize flour porridge, resembling the Italian Polenta or Nigerian Fufu. More so, the meal is easy to prepare and less time-consuming, making it a popular side dish on most Kenyan lunch and dinner menus. Still, some homes in rural Kenya make their Ugali using millet or sorghum flour. Others may even add cassava flour to the corn flour before cooking. Indeed, any visit to Kenya is never complete without having Ugali.

Ingredients: Cornmeal Flour, Water

Kenyan Ugali Recipe:

  • Heat a cup of water, bringing it to a boil in a non-stick pot
  • Slowly add your cornmeal flour to the boiling water, mixing it using a wooden spoon for a dough-like consistency
  • Continue adding the cornmeal flour until the dough thickens and starts simmering
  • Let it simmer for a minute, then stir without adding any more flour
  • Reduce the heat to a minimum, cover the pot, and let it simmer for another five minutes
  • Remove the lid and stir the cornmeal using the wooden spoon one last time, patting the ugali into a ball-like shape
  • Serve hot

Quick Tip: Use coarsely ground cornmeal flour containing its husk and germ to add flavor and nutrition to your Ugali. Always use a wooden cooking spoon when mixing the flour in the water.

 

2.      Kenyan Chai

Kenyan Tea

 

Chai is the Swahili word for tea. And most Kenyans prefer starting their day with Kenyan Chai. It is a hot, milky, and sweet drink served with baked bread or Maandazi (Kenyan pan-fried bread). Most rural homes prefer having Chai with boiled arrow roots, sweet potatoes, or cassava. And families at the coast have their Chai with Mahamri (pan-fried coconut bread), Mkate wa Sinia (rice cake), and Mbaazi za Nazi (pigeon peas in coconut milk sauce).

Ingredients: 1 Cup of Water, 500 ml of Whole Milk, Sugar, A Teaspoon of Black Tea Leaves, Optional Spices (Crushed Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamon, Cloves)

Kenyan Tea Recipe:

  • Bring water to boil
  • Stir in the milk and the black tea leaves
  • Let it simmer until it starts bubbling
  • When it starts to boil, reduce the heat and let it brew for two more minutes
  • Stir in your spices using a fine mesh sieve
  • Let the tea boil for two more minutes
  • Pour the tea into cups through a fine mesh sieve
  • Serve hot

Quick Tip: Prepare black Kenyan tea by omitting the milk. Also, substitute the tea leaves with a tea bag when cooking or serving the tea to avoid using the fine mesh sieve.

 

3.      Nyama Choma

Nyama Choma

Nyama Choma is a Swahili phrase for grilled beef or goat meat. Still, fish and chicken are also becoming popular Nyama Choma options. And Kenyans love their Nyama Choma. The Kenyan grilled meat features in most street food joints, five-star restaurants, and festivities. It is common to see meet slowly grilling over an open fire or on a charcoal grill. And, when ready, most people prefer eating with their hands. Serve your Nyama Choma with a cold beer, Ugali, Kachumbari salad, and some cold beer or soft drinks.

Ingredients: Goat, Beef, Chicken, or Fish cut into bite-size chunks, oil, warm salted water

Nyama Choma Recipe:

  • Light your charcoal grill and get it hot
  • Smear oil onto the meat chunks
  • Thread the meat on the skewers
  • Grill the meat, basting it with salt water until fork tender
  • Serve with Ugali and Kachumbari salad

Quick Tip: Wrap the meat in aluminum foil and grill on low heat to preserve its juices. Also, marinate the steak as desired to improve its flavor.

 

4.      Matoke

Matoke

Matoke is a fast-cooking, healthy, and delicious meal comprised of traditional highland green bananas, also known as plantain bananas. The one-pot dish is a staple in Kenya and a national dish in Uganda since the bananas are readily available, and the meal can fill you up for hours. It is best served with stew or beans for lunch or dinner.

Ingredients: Beef Meat, Green Highland Bananas, White Onions, Tomatoes, Tomato Paste, Royco Beef Seasoning Cube, Coriander Leaves, Garlic , Cumin, Cooking Oil, Broth, Salt to Taste

Matoke Recipe:

Matoke for Breakfast

  • Peel the plantain bananas cut them into large cubes, and soak them in salted water
  • Boil the bananas in salted water for 30 minutes
  • Pass a fork or knife through one banana to check if it is well cooked
  • Serve the Matoke with tea for breakfast

Matoke with Beef Stew for Lunch or Supper

  • Cut the meat into medium-sized cubes and boil it until tender
  • Peel the plantain bananas cut them into large cubes, and soak them in salted water
  • Chop the onions, tomatoes, and coriander leaves in separate bowls
  • Transfer the cooked meat to a bowl
  • Using the pot where you boiled the steak, add cooking oil, onions, and coriander leaves and cook for 2 minutes
  • Stir the mixture until the onions are soft
  • Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and half a tablespoon of tomato paste
  • Add the meat and seasoning cube and cook for 2 minutes
  • Mix in the green bananas
  • Add the broth and let the Matoke simmer until tender
  • Serve hot

Quick Tip: Mash and blend the cooked Matoke to serve toddlers. Use ripening bananas to get a sweet flavor instead of the sour taste. And substitute the beef with fish, chicken, or vegetable stew.

 

5.      Chapati

Kenyan Chapati

Chapati is soft layered, unleavened flat bread with a subtle yet delicious flavor, similar to the Indian Paratha. The bread is suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner since it pairs easily with almost all Kenyan dishes. It attains a flaky and layered texture when the dough is rolled and oiled. And frying chapatis on a skillet on non-stick pan requires precision, correct heat, and knowing when to turn and oil each side. Hence, it takes a bit of time and practice to master making soft chapatis.

Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Oil, Warm Salty Water

Chapati Recipe:

  • Put the wheat flour in a bowl and add three tablespoons of oil
  • Slowly add the warm salty water as you need to attain a dough-like consistency
  • Smear a teaspoon of oil and knead the dough until smooth and elastic
  • Let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Cut the dough into palm-size balls
  • Roll each ball into a circle to flatten it
  • Lightly brush the flattened dough with oil and wrap it back into a ball
  • Heat your skillet
  • Roll out the balls to flatten them and pan fry them on the skillet
  • Serve the chapatti with stew, tea, or soup

Quick Tip: Chapatis are best served hot, straight from the pan.

 

6.      Kenyan Pilau

Kenyan Pilau

 

Kenyan Pilau is a flavorful rice dish quite similar to Indian Pilau. Only, the Kenyan version is less spicy and can be prepared with or without meat. Locals enjoy their Pilau during family gatherings and special occasions. And they prefer using Kenyan Pishori Rice to bring out that nostalgic aroma. The elegant dish can be served as a stand-alone meal or paired with Kachumbari salad and a vegetable side dish.

Ingredients: Aromatic Rice, Your Choice Boiled Meat (Beef, Chicken, or Goat Meat), Pilau Masala Spices, Tomato Paste, Garlic, Onions, Carrots, Potatoes, Oil, Hot Broth, Salt to Taste

Pilau Recipe:

  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan
  • Stir in the onions, garlic, and Pilau masala spices
  • Add the boiled meat and fry for a minute
  • Stir in the tomato paste
  • Add the potatoes, and carrots and let it cook for a minute
  • Add the aromatic rice and stir to coat the rice with the spices
  • Pour in the broth and stir
  • Let the rice cook to absorb all the broth
  • Cover the rice and leave it to simmer on minimum heat
  • Serve hot

Quick Tip: Let the onions caramelize and brown the meat to attain the authentic brown Pilau color.

 

7.      Sukuma Wiki

Sukuma Wiki

Sukuma Wiki or Kales is Kenya’s staple vegetable. The phrase ‘Sukuma Wiki’ means stretching the week. Hence, it is the go-to vegetable for families on a low budget. Sukuma Wiki can be pan-fried, cooked with beef, and served with Ugali or Spaghetti.

Ingredients: Fresh Kales, Oil, Onions, Tomatoes, Seasoning Cubes,

Sukuma Wiki Recipe:

  • Heat oil in a saucepan
  • Fry the onions, tomatoes, and seasoning cubes
  • Add the freshly cut kale and mix well
  • Add some water and let it simmer for 5 minutes
  • Serve hot

Quick Tip: Never cover the pan when cooking kale. That way, the vegetables will retain their fresh green color when cooked.

 

8.      Kenyan Fish Stew

Kenyan Fish Stew

 

Kenya has a ready supply of freshwater fish from Lake Victoria and salty water fish from the Indian Ocean. For this, most locals eat fried or boiled fish every week. The Kenyan fish stew comprises deep-fried fish served with stew or pan-fried to make the thick stew.

Ingredients: Marinated Fresh Fish, Oil, Salt, Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic, Coriander, Seasoning Cube, Broth

Fish Stew Recipe:

  • Chop the fish into large chunks
  • Marinate the fish in garlic, fresh ginger, and salt
  • Deep fry the fish until brown and set aside
  • Heat oil on a saucepan
  • Add onions and garlic and cook until it caramelizes
  • Add the fish and let it brown
  • Add tomatoes and beef seasoning cubes
  • Pour the broth and cover the stew
  • Let it cook on low heat for 5 minutes
  • Serve hot

Quick Tip: Fried fish can be served dry with Kachumbari salad and Ugali

 

9.      Kachumbari Salad

Kenyan Kachumbari

The Kachumbari Salad is a staple in most urban homes.  It comprises freshly cut vegetables as an accompaniment for most dry dishes.

Ingredients: Tomatoes, Onions, Pepper, Lemon, Coriander, Avocado

Kachumbari Recipe:

  • Cut the onions and sprinkle them with salt
  • Cut the tomatoes, pepper, and coriander into separate bowls
  • Grate your carrots and cabbage
  • Wash the salted onions to get rid of excess salt
  • Add the tomatoes, pepper, coriander, carrots, and cabbage
  • Add a pinch of salt and mix well
  • Squeeze the lemon juice onto the salad
  • Peel and cut your avocado and add it to the mixture
  • Serve cold

Quick Tip: Refrigerate your Kachumbari salad leftovers to serve them fresh with your Kenyan dishes.

 

10.  Githeri

Kenyan Githeri

Finally, Githeri is a mixture of green maize and beans, prepared for lunch in most schools in Kenya. Still, it is the go-to meal during family functions like weddings and funerals since it is easy to prepare. Besides, Githeri can include potatoes, vegetables, and meat to make it a more nutritious, satisfying, and affordable balanced diet.

Ingredients: Fresh Maize, Dry Beans, Potatoes, Onions, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Carrots, Broth, Oil

Githeri Recipe:

  • Mix the fresh maize and beans and boil for 2 to 3 hours until soft
  • Heat oil in a cooking pan
  • Fry the onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots
  • Add the boiled maize and beans mixture
  • Add some broth and let it simmer for 10 minutes
  • Serve hot

Quick Tip: Most locals prefer serving their Githeri with a Kachumbari salad or Avocado side plate.

 

Conclusion

Which of the above ten Kenyan dishes will you try? For your final tip, bring out the authentic Kenyan flavors by using Kenyan-made ingredients like Ketepa tea leaves, Royco seasoning cubes, Mwea Pishori rice, and freshly caught Tilapia or Nile Perch. These Kenyan dishes will make you feel at home, away from home.

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