Whereas lovely sunsets, enchanting wildlife, fascinating landscapes, and pleasant persons are its main points of interest, the meals in Kenya can be worthy of a visit to this East African nation.
The nation contains over 44 ethnic teams, and nearly each neighborhood has its personal distinctive conventional dish. While you mix that reality with worldwide cuisines and culinary variations, each traveler is certain to have an unforgettable expertise.
So, in case you’re visiting Kenya quickly and questioning what to eat, learn on. On this article, I’ll introduce you to dishes from numerous areas in my house nation. These embody ugali, the staple meals; biryani, a Swahili meal from the coast; and irio, a standard meals from the Mount Kenya area.
Under, are a few of my favourite dishes to attempt throughout your journey to Kenya.
15 Meals To Attempt in Kenya
As a Kenyan native, I’ve traveled to many components of the nation, sampling totally different meals. To offer you an concept of what to anticipate, I’ve ready this information on 15 must-try dishes in Kenya. It contains in style meals, primary dishes, snacks, pastries, and avenue meals.
1. Ugali (Cornmeal) – The Most Common Food in Kenya General
We start this checklist with ugali, undeniably the preferred meals in Kenya and lots of components of Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s additionally the staple meals of Kenya and is normally a part of lunch and dinner in most households.
Ugali is made by including flour (maize, millet, or cassava) to boiling water and stirring to a dough-like consistency. The healthful meal is then loved with inexperienced greens, beef stew, or nyama choma (roasted meat – extra on that beneath!).
This in style meal is offered in nearly each native restaurant. If you happen to’re in Nairobi, Okay’Osewe Ranalo Meals is a superb choice and a spot I’ve loved brown ugali (manufactured from millet flour) many instances. The restaurant additionally serves different conventional and must-try dishes in Kenya, like fried tilapia fish and beef stew.
Okay’Osewe Ranalo Meals Info
Handle: Kimathi Street, Nairobi
Cellphone: +254 721 323238
Working Hours: 10:30 am-3:00 am (Mon-Solar)
Common Value of the dish: $7
Web site: N/A
2. Nyama Choma (Roasted Meat)
Translating to roasted or grilled meat in Swahili, nyama choma is probably the most well-known dish in Kenya. This basic barbecue is made by slowly roasting meat (goat, beef, or rooster) over scorching coals till it’s tender.
As soon as grilled, nyama choma is positioned on a wood board and chopped into items, and served with ugali, greens, and kachumbari. In Kenya, we normally benefit from the well-known dish with mates. It additionally goes properly with ice-cold beers or espresso.
You could find nyama choma on many sit-down restaurant menus throughout the county. It’s additionally out there from roadside eateries (“choma zones”) and native meat outlets.
If you happen to’re in Nairobi, go to the Carnivore Restaurant. It has all kinds of nyama choma to select from, and you may eat all you need at a set worth. Char-Choma Restaurant is my favourite spot for the dish in Mombasa.
The Carnivore Restaurant Info
Handle: Off Langata Road, Nairobi (near Wilson Airport)
Cellphone: +254 731 611606
Working Hours: 12:00 pm-11:00 pm (Mon-Solar)
Common Value of the dish: $50 (for a buffet)
Web site: tamarind.co.ke/carnivore
3. Samaki Fry (Fried Fish)
Samaki fry, Swahili for fried fish, is among the most scrumptious and in style meals in Kenya. The fish (normally tilapia or Nile perch) is deep-fried and served with ugali alongside kachumbari (normally recent tomato and onion salad). Apart from the dry fry (my favourite), it may also be wet-fried (with onions, tomatoes, and spices) which provides it extra aroma.
Omena (silver cyprinid) is one other typical fish dish in Kenya, particularly amongst communities residing alongside the shores of Lake Victoria. The small fish are first dried in the solar earlier than being deep fried.
The most effective locations to eat fish in Kenya is Mama Oliech Restaurant in Nairobi’s Kilimani space. If you happen to’re visiting Nanyuki city, drop by the Trout Tree Restaurant. It’s my favourite fish restaurant in Kenya for its scrumptious farm-to-table trout and recent sukuma wiki (kale).
Trout Tree Restaurant Info
4. Karanga (Kenyan Beef Stew)
Karanga (an area stew) is a typical meal in Kenya and a favourite for many individuals. The dish is straightforward to organize utilizing totally different meats and different substances that give it an inviting aroma.
It’s made by frying chunks of meat with onions, tomatoes, potatoes, greens, and spices. When water is added, the result’s a thick, hearty meal finest loved with ugali, chapati, or rice.
My favourite restaurant in Kenya for karanga is K’Osewe Ranalo Foods. The eatery serves scrumptious beef stew, which I get pleasure from with ugali (millet flour) and managu (indigenous inexperienced greens).
The Talisman Restaurant could have a distinct title for the stew, however it’s positively well-known for making among the finest.
The Talisman Restaurant Info
Handle: Off Ngong Road, Karen, Nairobi
Cellphone: +254 705 999997
Working Hours: 11:00 am-10:00 pm (Tue-Fri), 9:00 am-10:00 pm (Sat-Solar)
Common Value of the dish: $13
Web site: thetalismanrestaurant.com
5. Sukuma Wiki (Collard Greens or Kale)
Other than nyama choma and Kenyan stew, ugali is commonly accompanied by sukuma wiki (much like kale). This vegetable dish, which interprets to “push the week,” is inexpensive and customary in many Kenyan households.
Making ready sukuma wiki entails washing the inexperienced leaves, slicing them into small items after which frying them with onions. In some instances, tomatoes and spices are added to deepen the flavour.
In addition to sukuma wiki, there are different inexperienced greens generally used in Kenya. These embody spinach, mrenda (jute mallow), marenge (pumpkin leaves), and thabai (stinging nettle leaves).
Sukuma wiki is offered in nearly all eating places throughout Kenya – together with the small eateries in the countryside. There are additionally some nice locations to do this dish in Nairobi, with my favourite being Cultiva Farm, an amazing farm-to-table restaurant in Karen.
Cultiva Farm Kenya Info
6. Kachumbari (Salsa or Salad)
Kachumbari, a recent vegetable salad, is Kenya’s hottest aspect dish. The salad/salsa contains sliced recent tomatoes, onions, inexperienced/purple pepper, coriander, and generally avocado.
The refreshing salsa/salad is synonymous with nyama choma. It additionally goes properly with pilau, mutura (avenue meals), boiled eggs, and fried fish.
If you wish to attempt Kenya’s most scrumptious salad, go to a nyama choma restaurant or a avenue meals vendor. For first-time guests, I like to recommend Road House Grill in Nairobi or Char-Choma Restaurant in Mombasa. They’ve among the finest barbecue and kachumbari in the nation.
Char-Choma Restaurant Info
Handle: Off Mombasa-Malindi Road, just before Whitesands Hotel
Cellphone: +254 794 673598
Working Hours: 6:00 am-12:00 am (Mon-Solar)
Common Value of the dish: $15 (served with nyama choma)
Web site: facebook.com
7. Rooster Tikka Masala (Spiced Rooster)
Kenya is a multicultural nation with a sizeable inhabitants of locals of Indian descent. This has led to the introduction of scrumptious Asian meals, together with rooster tikka masala.
The dish is made by tossing items of rooster (clay oven cooked) right into a spicy sauce. This sauce normally contains recent tomatoes, onion gravy, and a wide range of unimaginable Indian spices.
There are a number of locations the place you’ll be able to attempt rooster tikka masala in Kenya. My favourite is The Mayura Restaurant on the Nairobi SGR Terminus, which serves this tasty dish, amongst others. The restaurant additionally has branches in Karen and Westlands.
The Mayura Restaurant Info
8. Biryani (Spiced Rice) – My Favourite Swahili Food in Kenya
Biryani is a standard meals in Kenya in style amongst communities alongside the coast. To make this dish, rice is normally cooked with meat (rooster or beef) and totally different spices. These spices embody cardamom, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves.
One other spiced rice and a well-known dish in Kenya is pilau. It’s cooked with fragrant spices and both beef or rooster and is served with greens and kachumbari.
The principle distinction between biryani and pilau is that with biryani, rice and different substances (meat, sauce, and spices) are cooked collectively. However, pilau rice (and spices) are cooked in a separate pot from the sauce and meat.
I’ve had biryani rooster and pilau in many locations, however my favourite eatery is Jahazi Espresso Home. The small restaurant is situated in Mombasa Old Town and serves probably the most scrumptious Swahili dishes in town.
With its outdated furnishings, flooring mats, and Arabic-style doorways, Jahazi is a real image of the traditional city.
Jahazi Espresso Home Info
Handle: Thika Street, Off Ndia Kuu Rd, Mombasa
Cellphone: +254 742 917263
Working Hours: 9:00 am-6:00 pm (Mon-Solar)
Common Value of the dish: $8
Web site: N/A
9. Wali wa Nazi (Coconut Rice)
One among my favourite dishes in Kenya is Wali. This dish can be in style among the many communities residing alongside the Kenyan coast. It’s usually manufactured from white rice and numerous substances and is normally loved with rooster, beef, or fish curry.
The preferred wali dishes are wali wa kukaanga and wali wa nazi. The latter contains rice boiled in coconut milk, whereas the previous encompass boiled rice that’s fried with substances like onions, carrots, peas, turmeric, and greens.
The very best locations I get pleasure from wali wa nazi are in Swahili eating places, and also you’ll discover them in nearly each city alongside the Kenyan coast. Whereas in Mombasa, check out Mombasa Dishes or Barka Restaurant in Mombasa Outdated City. Kilimanjaro Jamia in Nairobi can be among the finest locations to attempt wali.
Barka Restaurant Info
Handle: Mji wa Kale, Makadara Road, Mvita
Cellphone: +254 722 881009
Working Hours: 7:30 am-10:30 pm (Mon-Solar)
Common Value of the dish: $4
Web site: N/A
10. Matoke (Plantain Banana Stew)
Matoke, a staple meals among the many Kisii folks of the western area, ought to positively be in your checklist of must-try dishes in Kenya. The meal is ready by frying plantains and is finest loved with rice, chapati, or beef stew.
It’s frequent to seek out totally different variations of matoke in totally different components of the nation. In central Kenya, for instance, the dish consists of plantains, potatoes, arrowroots, pumpkins, and generally candy potatoes.
Matoke is offered in native eating places countrywide. Whether or not in Kisii, Mombasa, Nairobi, Nanyuki, or Nakuru, you’re positive to discover a place serving this wonderful dish. Whereas in Nairobi, try Bridges Natural Restaurant.
Bridges Natural Restaurant Info
11. Irio (Mashed Peas)
Additionally indigenous to communities residing in the central area just like the Kikuyu, irio (which means meals) is my favourite conventional meals in Kenya. This wholesome dish is manufactured from mashed potatoes, beans, peas, and conventional greens (like pumpkin leaves) and served with beef stew or nyama choma.
It’s value noting that, not like mukimo, irio doesn’t comprise githeri (corn and kidney beans).
The most effective locations to style irio is at a nyama choma restaurant (though they primarily promote mukimo). If you happen to’re visiting the central area (the realm round Mount Kenya), drop by any native restaurant and also you’ll discover probably the most genuine irio, githeri, and mukimo round.
My favourite place to eat the native dish is Betty’s Place in Nyeri; a country restaurant that serves tasty nyama choma accompanied by scrumptious irio or mukimo.
Betty’s Place Restaurant Info
Handle: Kimathi Way, Nyeri
Cellphone: +254 711 666792
Working Hours: 7:30 am-12:00 am (Mon-Sat), 9:00 am-12:00 am (Solar)
Common Value of the dish: $5
Web site: N/A
12. Githeri (Corn/Maize and Beans)
Githeri is among the finest conventional dishes in Kenya. Initially, the dish was unique to communities residing round central Kenya, however now it’s widespread throughout the nation. This easy meal is made by mixing maize (corn) with beans and boiling them in a clay pot or sufuria.
As soon as it’s cooked, githeri is served alone or fried with onions, tomatoes, inexperienced greens, and potatoes. Generally, the dish is mashed with potatoes, and pumpkin leaves to make mukimo – one other typical meals in Kenya.
Githeri is offered in most eating places in Kenya. If you happen to’d prefer to get pleasure from this meal in Nairobi, I reccomend you go to the Sizzling Dishes Restaurant.
Sizzling Dishes Restaurant Info
Handle: Old Mutual Building along Kimathi Street, Nairobi
Cellphone: +254 782 333444
Working Hours: 6:00 am-9:00 pm (Mon-Fri), 6:00 am-8:00 pm (Sat-Solar)
Common Value of the dish: $3
Web site: hotdishes.co.ke
13. Samosas (Triangular Pastry)
No journey to Kenya could be full with out attempting not less than one samosa, a yummy triangular-shaped snack.
This in style snack may be loved any time of the day, particularly with a cup of chai. It’s made by filling cooked minced meat or peas in small triangular dough pockets which are deep fried. Elements like onions, garlic, pepper, and coriander are generally added to offer them further taste.
I wasn’t an enormous fan of samosas till a good friend urged I attempt T Tot Restaurant in Machakos city. The restaurant is in style with locals, and their scorching samosas will go away you craving extra.
If you happen to’re in Nairobi, try Cafe Deli Restaurant alongside Moi Avenue. It serves beef and rooster samosas which go properly with Kenyan chai.
Café Deli Restaurant Info
14. Mutura (Kenyan Sausage) – Finest Avenue Food in Kenya
Along with the normal dishes in Kenya, avenue meals is frequent, particularly in markets, neighborhoods, and alongside alleys. A number of the in style choices embody mahindi choma (roasted maize), mayai pasua (boiled eggs), and mutura (Kenyan sausage).
Mutura is probably the most well-known of all Kenyan avenue meals. The sausage-like snack is scrumptious and wealthy in protein. It contains a mix of various items of cow or goat meat and cooled blood encased in a wrapper (normally goat intestines).
To arrange mutura, items of meat are initially cooked with totally different substances (like onions and spices) after which stuffed in small intestines. The sausage is then roasted on a charcoal grill to offer it a smoky taste. As soon as cooked, mutura is lower into small ring-like items and loved alone or accompanied by kachumbari.
If you happen to’re in search of a spot to style this glorious and distinctive Kenyan avenue meals, take a night stroll in any small city or massive metropolis in the nation, and hold a eager eye out for it. You may also go to a restaurant equivalent to Betty’s Place in Nyeri or Ankole Grill in Nairobi.
Ankole Grill, Kilimani Info
15. Tusker (Kenyan Beer)
Though this text is about meals in Kenya, it will be incomplete with no drink to clean down the meal. A chilly Tusker (the preferred native beer) goes completely properly with nyama choma or fried fish. You may also get pleasure from scorching drinks like chai (Kenyan tea) and kahawa (espresso).
Tusker (for round $4) is offered in nearly any bar and restaurant in the nation. If you happen to’re in Mombasa, go to Maasai Seaside Bar and Restaurant. It overlooks the magnificent Mombasa Seaside and serves scrumptious roasted meat and numerous drinks.
The most effective locations for espresso and tea in Kenya is Java Home. I frequent the Kimathi Street department for a full breakfast, which incorporates Kenyan chai, omelets, and bread.
Maasai Seaside Bar and Restaurant
Handle: Mount Kenya Road, Mombasa
Cellphone: +254 717 310902
Working Hours: 6:00 am-2:00 am (Mon-Solar)
Common Value of the dish: $4 (for native beers)
Web site: N/A
Bonus (Different Must-Try Dishes in Kenya)
Under are different dishes in Kenya that it’s best to attempt.
Ingoho: A stewed rooster frequent among the many Luhya neighborhood of Kenya. It’s normally served with ugali (made out of millet, cassava, or whole-milled maize flour).
Chapati: This can be a smooth flatbread that’s usually served with different meals like sukuma wiki, beef stew, and matoke.
Chips Mwitu: Translating to “wild French fries”, chips mwitu is one other well-known and must-try avenue meals in Kenya. It’s merely fried potato chips bought by the roadside. Related meals embody viazi karai (potato wedges – boiled after which deep-fried) and bhajias (potato fritters).
Smokie Pasua: That is normally a smoked sausage. Similar to mayai pasua (boiled eggs), smokie pasua is a avenue meals that goes completely properly with kachumbari.
Mahindi Choma: Often known as makai, mahindi choma (grilled maize) is certainly one of my favourite avenue meals in Kenya. It has a crunchy texture and a candy style (bitter in case you spice it with lemon or chili).
Food Excursions in Kenya
With quite a few eating places in Kenya to select from, it takes a number of work to know the place to eat native meals. Nonetheless, by becoming a member of a guided tour, your native host will take you to well-known locations in addition to some considerably secret spots the place you’ll be able to eat and drink like an area.
Try the next meals excursions in Kenya for an genuine native culinary expertise.
Nairobi Metropolis Food Tour
If you happen to’re able to style the very best meals in Kenya, be a part of this thrilling tour. Your native information will take you to the very best spots to get pleasure from conventional dishes alongside different Kenyans.
You’ll get to pattern well-known Kenyan delicacies, together with ugali, chapati, mukimo, nyama choma, kachumbari, fish, indigenous greens, and Swahili dishes.
The Carnivore Eating Expertise
To style various kinds of nyama choma, be a part of this native eating expertise. It takes you to Carnivore Restaurant – one of the vital well-known locations for roasted meat.
The eating expertise features a mouth-watering starter (soup), a tasty dessert, and an all-you-can-eat meat choice. After dinner, you’ll wash down the nyama choma with espresso or a chilly Tusker beer.
Mombasa Avenue Food Expertise
The Kenyan Swahili delicacies is a phenomenal mixture of substances from totally different communities that reside alongside the Indian Ocean shoreline. It combines native, European, Arabic, and Indian influences to provide among the most scrumptious dishes in the nation.
When visiting Mombasa, be sure you be a part of this street food tour to pattern totally different native delicacies. These embody rooster biryani (my favourite), pilau (spiced rice), wali wa nazi (coconut rice), and mabuyu (baobab seeds coated with sugar and coloured flavors).
Make Kenyan Cuisines With a Native
The most effective methods to understand the native meals scene is by studying easy methods to put together and cook dinner conventional meals. On this tour, you’ll go to an area farmers’ market to purchase substances after which learn to cook dinner them with an area information.
The journey to and from the market contains using in a matatu (an area minibus), the place you’ll be able to work together with native Kenyans alongside the trip.
Be taught Every thing About Espresso and Tea
Kenya will not be solely well-known for its dishes but in addition for its nice tea and occasional. Be part of this tour to be taught every thing about espresso (from farm to cup).
If you happen to’re extra in tea, this experience is ideal for you. It features a scrumptious native meal made out of recent farm produce.
Kenyan Food: FAQs
Under are some solutions to generally requested questions on meals in Kenya.
Ugali is the staple meals of Kenya.
Nyama choma is probably the most well-known dish in Kenya. The roasted meat is normally served with ugali, sukuma wiki, and kachumbari.
The commonest meals in Kenya are nyama choma, ugali, fish, kachumbari (salad), matoke, mukimo, and mutura.
There are many conventional meals in Kenya, together with ingoho (Luhya neighborhood), irio (Kikuyu neighborhood), and matoke (Kisii neighborhood).
A number of the finest locations to eat in Kenya are The Carnivore for nyama choma, Okay’Osewe Ranalo Meals for beef stew, and Jahazi Espresso Home for inexpensive Swahili dishes.
The same old meal time in Kenya is between 8 pm and 10 pm.
Lunch in Kenya is normally from 12 pm to 2 pm, based mostly on work schedules and the day of the week. Lunch hours throughout weekends and holidays are usually versatile.
A typical breakfast in Kenya contains chai (tea) and bread. It’s additionally frequent to have espresso, candy potatoes, and arrowroots. In massive eating places, it could actually encompass omelets, bacon, recent juice, fruit servings, and cornflakes.
In Kenya, breakfast is normally served between 6 am and 9 am.
Though tipping will not be necessary in Kenya, it’s frequent so as to add 10% of the invoice as a tip based mostly on the standard of meals and the service.
Huge restaurant chains, native eateries, and avenue distributors depend on countryside farms for recent produce, greens, and substances. Additionally they supply the very best fish, meat, and rooster in order to organize scrumptious dishes.
So, while you go to this lovely and hospitable nation, don’t confine your self solely to nationwide parks, seashores, and mountains. Head over to a restaurant and indulge your digestive juices with Kenyan delicacies.
In addition to the favored meals like ugali, nyama choma, and kachumbari, be sure you additionally attempt avenue meals like mutura and smokie pasua. I’m positive you’ll go away the nation with a phenomenal meals expertise and lots of joyful reminiscences.
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