Read on to learn about the best Kenyan foods: from nyama choma to Ugali.
Speaking of Kenya reminds many people about the pride of lions roaming its sprawling national wildlife parks. However, Kenya is not only about the animals you see at Maasai Mara. It’s also a culinary haven with many indulgent delicacies to savor on your trip to this part of Africa.
Best Kenyan Foods To Try
Kenya boasts 42 unique tribes with distinctive culinary dishes that you can taste during your journey to the African wild.
Taste these Kenyan Foods/dishes, and you’ll want to visit this country again!
1. Nyama Choma
Nyama choma is grilled beef or goat, a tempting dish for Kenyans who are formidable meat eaters.
You’ll see many open grills across the country, grilling not only beef and goat but also chicken and fish-based nyama choma dishes.
Preparing nyama choma involves cooking the meat over an open fire or using charcoal. It’s a dish that is best served with kachumbari and ugali. Nyama choma also goes well with your favorite wine or ice-cold beer.
2. Nyama (Beef Fry)
Beef fry (Nyama) is what stewed beef is also in Kenya. Nyama is cooked with so much variety that it will taste different each time you try it.
The ingredients used to make Nyama include braised beef, tomatoes, onions, and carrots. It may even include other vegetables like peas, potatoes, and plantains.
The ingredients are seasoned with spices and left on the stove until the beef is infused with all these flavors and the sauce is thickened. It’s best enjoyed with chapati, a type of bread made using whole wheat flour.
Githeri is a simple dish that consists of boiled corn and beans. It originates from the Kikuyu tribal people in Kenya.
Corn and beans are boiled and fried to make this delicious dish, a popular dish all over Africa.
However, the Kenyan version of this dish consists of red beans, onions, potatoes, corn, and meat, soaked in a rich beef and tomato gravy spiced with curry powder, chili, and paprika.
It is served as a main meal with rice or chapati or as an appetizer.
Irio is a traditional dish of the Kikuyu tribal people of Central Kenya. This dish is also known as Eskimo. It’s made with a healthy mix of corn, mashed potatoes, greens, and peas. It’s simply a modified version of your standard potato mash.
Irio is usually served with barbecued meat and fish or stew. However, you can even dig into a bowl of this delicious meal with a spoon.
Banana stew or matoke is a rich stew made from green bananas, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and spices. These ingredients are simmered in a large vessel until the bananas soften and result in a thick sauce.
Matoke is typically served with chapati, rice, ugali, or roasted meat. It’s a favorite dish among people in East Africa and is commonly found in most restaurants in Kenya.
Ugali is the staple food in Kenya. It’s as close as possible to being a national food in the country. Ugali is made from yellow or white cornmeal, hot water, and some salt. It’s a starchy side dish that compliments almost every meal in Kenya.
Ugali is generally served on a platter in the middle of the table. The ideal way to savor it is to tear off a piece, roll it into a ball, and use your finger to hollow out the middle and use it as a spoon.
This dish tastes great with soups, stews, and grilled meat or fish.
7. Sukuma Wiki
Sukuma wiki is a popular side dish in Kenya. It’s made with locally-available ingredients such as onions, garlic, leafy greens, tomatoes, and spices like turmeric, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Popular leafy greens used to make this dish are kale and collard greens.
You need to saute tomatoes and onions and season with salt. This healthy side dish is best served with ugali and nyama choma.
Mutura is a Kenyan blood sausage that is a popular snack among Kenyans. This dish bears many similarities to Spanish morcilla or Irish black pudding.
Mutura is made by stuffing cow, goat, or lamb intestines with meat, herbs, onions, spices, and animal blood. The mixture is rolled into a sausage spiral and grilled.
Grilling gives this dish a smokey flavor. Mutura tastes excellent, washed down with a cold beer.
Mandazi is a favorite sweet treat among Kenyans. It’s similar to a donut, except that it’s infused with the fragrance of cardamom and coconut. It’s deep-fried and shaped like a ‘samosa,’ a South Asian pastry with a savory filling.
Mandazi can be had for breakfast or with coffee or tea.
10. Kuku Paka
Kuku Paka is a popular East African dish and is the Kenyan take on chicken curry. The dish has a mix of Indian and Arabian flavors and is a must-try in Kenya. It’s an excellent example of Kenya’s culinary influence from India.
Kuku Paka is made with roasted chicken simmered in a pot with onions, garlic, tomatoes, coconut milk, ginger, and various spices to give it an aromatic flavor and great taste. It’s popular in some of Kenya’s coastal towns, including Lamu and Mombassa.
Samaki is a popular fried fish dish in East Africa. It is commonly found at roadside food stands in countries like Kenya in East Africa.
Samaki is served either wet-fried or dry-fried. The Swahili word ‘Tamaki’ means fish in English. Samaki is most popular among particular communities in Kenya, including the Luhya and Luo communities in the West.
However, it’s not limited to a specific region, and anyone can enjoy this delicious dish as they wish.
Kachumbari is renowned as one of Kenya’s most delicious salads. It’s prepared using thin slices of fresh ripe tomatoes, green or red pepper, onions, coriander, and lemon juice.
Kachumbari goes well with pilau or nyama choma, which is how Kenyans enjoy it.
Pilau is another one of the popular coastal Kenyan dishes. It is mostly made for guests on occasions like weddings.
Pilau is a tasty rice dish infused with aromatic spices. It can be made with beef or chicken and is best served with kachumbari.
It is a dish believed to have originated from the coastal region of Kenya.
Omena, or silverfish, is a much-loved dish among Kenyans. It is especially popular among people of the Luo community. Most food stalls in Kenyan markets have baskets filled with omena.
The specialty of this fish is that it’s caught during moonless nights and sold to women to dry it out in the sun. The process takes about a day or two, depending on the weather.
Ingoho is a western Kenyan dish that is especially popular among the Luhya community. The Luhyas will cook this decadent dish if they want to honor you as an important guest.
Making ingoho consists of roasting a whole chicken until it browns. Modified versions of ingoho consist of chicken pieces braised with tomatoes, onions, and various spices.
Mrenda is a vegetable commonly used by people belonging to the Luhya community. It is similar in texture to a lady’s fingers. However, when cooked, it tastes different from the lady’s fingers and is bitter.
This dish is made by boiling the vegetable’s leaves in milk or salty water. It’s best served with ugali for enhanced flavor.
17. Viazi Karai
Viazi karai is a dish consisting of spiced fried potatoes. This Kenyan dish hails from coastal region, and its sellers need help to keep up with the demand for this popular snack.
This dish is made by boiling until the potatoes are soft and deep-fried.
18. Wali Wa Nazi
Wali wa nazi or coconut rice, is a favorite delicacy from Kenya’s coastal region. Preparing this dish involves boiling white rice and coconut flesh in coconut milk, also known as nazi.
It’s a dish that is prepared by boiling white rice with grated coconut flesh and is usually served with Kenyan stew or chicken curry.
Makai, or roast maize, is a common and affordable snack found on almost every corner of the streets of Kenya.
The dish is prepared by roasting the maize over charcoal and then rubbed with lemon salt and chili.
- Read Also: Top 10 Best Things to Do in Kenya
Top Kenya Experiences
Kenya is a country with mouthwatering delicacies and a place where you can taste adventure and the wilderness.
It’s home to some of Africa’s best reserves and national parks and is one reason why many tourists worldwide flock to the country.
Kenya is a country where you can experience one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on Earth. It’s the annual journey in which over one million wildebeests from the southern Serengeti in Tanzania to Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve feed on the flourishing grasses.
Remember to carry all of the essentials required for your African safari tour. Dillon Morrison, the founder of Outlighter, suggests everyone carry all essential gear on their African hunting safari, especially if they plan to be hunting in the wilderness.
Final Thoughts on Kenyan Foods
Kenya has delicious cuisines and a range of dishes that everyone must try on their journey to this East African nation.
Some popular dishes to try in Kenya are nyama choma, ugali, samaki, mandazi, mutura, matoke, makai, and kachumbari.
Some side dishes like sukuma wiki are best served with popular Kenyan dishes such as ugali and nyoma choma.
Apart from tasting various delicacies, you can also experience an African safari tour in world-renowned wildlife reserves like the Maasai Mara.
Frequently Asked Questions about Kenyan Foods
What Are Some Of The Most Popular Dishes In Kenya?
Some of the most popular dishes in Kenya include ugali, nyama choma, nyama, kachumbari, matoke, githeri, Eskimo, and trio.
What Are Some Common Side Dishes Served With Nyama Choma?
You can serve nyama choma with ugali, chapati, sukuma wiki, and kachumbari.
What Kenyan Foods Go With Ugali?
Ugali is typically served with sukuma wiki, stew, or traditional vegetables. It’s a staple food in Kenyan cuisine.
What is the main dish in kenya?
The main staples of Kenyan foods are: Maize dinner (called Ugali when cooked) and rice. Ugali is ordinarily served as a white firm porridge, great for plunging in stews or making into a improvised spoon once you eat it with your hands.