When you think about African food, most people fall into one of two camps. You have those who know their sakuma from their plantain, and there are those who just wouldn’t know where to begin! There are so many different traditional African dishes out there that trying to list them all in one article would be virtually impossible. It’s probably much easier to specialise in one country…so we picked Kenya.
With that in mind, Original Volunteers – a company which specialises in volunteering in Kenya has provided us with a fun article on dishes to try out if you ever visit!Kenyan Food Basics
If you visit Kenya, you’ll quickly learn that most traditional Kenyan dishes are not only very filling, they are inexpensive too. The main staples consist of corn, maize, potatoes and beans. Meat is more typically eaten inland, while fish is more of a staple of Kenyans on the coast.
Dish #1 – Ugali
Ugali is a starchy, polenta-like side dish or porridge which is typically served as an accompaniment to meat or vegetables. The main ingredient is finely-ground white cornmeal, mixed with water and a dash of salt. Often used like bread, ugali is typically eaten with fingers and thumbs to scoop up accompanying stews and other dishes.Dish #2 – Githeri
Maize and beans were brought to the Kenyan coast around 400 years ago by the Portuguese colonists, who would have brought them from their Latin American colonies. As such, maize has been a staple food group for a long time – githeri is one such dish. A great source of protein it can also be made into a stew with the addition of green beans, meat and potatoes.Dish #3 – Mursik
Mursik is a drink made of fermented milk and couldn’t escape our list of top 5 traditional Kenyan dishes. The milk is boiled for six hours to destroy the nasties, and then as it cools it is poured into a treated sotet. This is then corked tightly with a treated lid and stored in a cool place for several days to allow it to ripen. The drink is served after rigorously shaking the sotet to ensure its uniform and smooth consistency. The drink is usually served on its own or served cold with ugali.
Dish #4 – Kuchumbari
Kuchumbari is a cold dish of shredded vegetables such as onions, cabbage, chilli peppers, and tomatoes. Think of it as an East African coleslaw. It’s often used as a starter / appetiser and is more commonly eaten along with a main dish – particularly roast meat called ‘Nyama Choma’.Dish #5 – Mandazi
And so finally we have dessert. Mandazi, or “Maandaazi” is essentially a form of fried bread, similar to doughnuts – but not so sweet. They are often triangular in shape and are more fluffy than their American counterparts. Coconut milk, ground peanuts and almonds are also added to add a different flavour. Sometimes they are eaten with fruit at breakfast, at other times with a cup of tea or just by themselves but most popularly mandazi is eaten as a dessert.
So join with the Kenyans and try some of Kenya’s favourite meals.