Food in Kenya: Discover the vibrant and delicious world of Kenyan cuisine with our top 20 dishes everyone should try. From hearty popular dishes like Ugali with Nyama Choma to spicy coastal dishes like Biryani and Pilau, this article will guide you through the best food in Kenya and the culinary culture.
Kenyan cuisine is a true delight for the senses! With influences from Africa, India, Arabia, and Europe, Food in Kenya reflects the country’s diverse cultural heritage. Its bold flavors, vibrant colors and hearty portions characterize it. From staple foods like Ugali and Chapati to flavorful meat dishes like Nyama Choma and Pilau, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Top 20 Kenyan Dishes Everyone Should Try
In this article, I will be sharing my top 20 Kenyan dishes that everyone should try, so get ready to tantalize your taste buds and explore the rich cultural heritage of Kenya through its cuisine.
1. Ugali and Sukuma Wiki
Kenyan households consider Ugali and Sukuma Wiki to be the most popular and traditional Kenyan dishes. Maize flour makes up the starchy porridge that is Ugali. On the other hand, Sukuma Wiki is a dish prepared with collard greens that are sautéed with onions and tomatoes. Kenyans often serve this combination with meat or beans as a staple.
2. Nyama Choma
Grilled meat, usually goat or beef, makes up the dish known as Nyama Choma. The meat is marinated in a blend of spices and then grilled over an open flame. The result is a flavorful and tender dish. Nyama Choma is often served with Kachumbari and Ugali.
Chapati is a type of flatbread made from wheat flour, water, and oil. The dough is rolled out and cooked on a hot griddle until it puffs up and becomes golden brown. Chapati is a popular accompaniment to many Kenyan dishes, especially those made with stews or curries.
A blend of cumin, coriander, and cinnamon blend gives Pilau – a flavorful rice dish – a fragrant and satisfying taste. People cook rice with vegetables and meat, usually chicken or beef, resulting in a dish that satisfies the senses. Often, people serve Pilau with Kachumbari or a side of yogurt.
Kenyan people make Githeri, a hearty dish, by boiling beans and corn and seasoning it with onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers, adding flavor and filling it. Githeri is a well-liked meal in rural Kenya; people typically serve it alone.
Irio is a dish made from mashed potatoes, peas, and corn. The vegetables are seasoned with onions and chili peppers and mashed together, resulting in a flavorful and colorful dish. Irio is often served with Nyama Choma.
Mukimo is made by boiling and mashing a blend of potatoes, beans, corn, and greens with cumin, coriander, and chili peppers. This staple dish in central Kenya is then served with beef stew or a side of Kachumbari.
Mandazi is a type of sweet bread that is similar to doughnuts. The dough is made from flour, sugar, and coconut milk and is deep-fried until golden brown. Mandazi is often served as a snack or breakfast food and is best enjoyed with a cup of Kenyan tea.
Samosas are fried or baked pastries filled with vegetables or meat. The filling is usually made from potatoes, peas, and onions and is seasoned with cumin and coriander. Samosas are a popular snack in Kenya and are often served with chutney.
10. Kenyan Tea
Kenyan tea is a type of black tea that is strong and flavorful. The tea leaves are grown in the highlands of Kenya and are known for their unique aroma and taste. Kenyan tea is usually served with milk and sugar and is a popular beverage in Kenya.
Mutura is a type of Kenyan sausage made from a blend of minced meat, blood, and spices. The sausage is often seasoned with cumin, coriander, and chili peppers and is a popular street food in Kenya. Mutura is often served with Kachumbari.
Kachumbari is a Kenyan salsa made from tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers. The vegetables are chopped into small pieces and mixed together with a sprinkle of salt and lemon juice. Kachumbari is a refreshing side dish that pairs well with grilled meats and stews.
Matoke is a dish made from plantains that are boiled and mashed with a blend of spices. The plantains are cooked until tender and then mashed together with onions and chili peppers. Matoke is a popular dish in Western Kenya, often served with meat or fish.
14. Kenyan Beef Stew
Kenyan beef stew is a flavorful and hearty dish made with beef, potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes. The beef is seasoned with a blend of cumin and coriander and cooked until tender. This dish is often served with Ugali or Chapati.
15. Kenyan Fried Chicken
You marinate chicken pieces with spices like ginger, garlic, and cumin to make Kenyan Fried Chicken. Next, coat the chicken in flour and fry it until it becomes crispy and golden brown. People often serve Kenyan Fried Chicken with chips (fries) or Kachumbari.
16. Biryani Chicken
Biryani chicken is made by cooking marinated chicken with fragrant spices and layering it with seasoned rice, which is then cooked over low heat until the flavors meld together.
17. Kenyan Beef Samosas
To make Kenyan Beef Samosas, you fill fried or baked pastries with ground beef and vegetables such as onions, peas, and potatoes. You season the filling with a blend of spices like cumin and coriander. People often serve Kenyan Beef Samosas with a side of chutney.
18. Kuku Paka
To make Kuku Paka, cook chicken in coconut milk and season it with a blend of cumin, coriander, and turmeric. People often serve this dish with rice or Ugali, a popular dish in coastal regions of Kenya.
19. Kenyan Fried Chicken
To make Kenyan Fried Chicken, you marinate chicken pieces in a blend of spices like ginger, garlic, and cumin. Next, coat the chicken in flour and fry it until it becomes crispy and golden brown. People often serve Kenyan Fried Chicken with a side of chips (fries) or Kachumbari.
20. Kenyan Bhajias
To make Kenyan Bhajias, you fry or bake a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, and chili peppers with chickpea flour batter mixed with onions, potatoes, and spinach. Kenyan Bhajias are a popular snack in Kenya and are usually served with a side of chutney.
FAQs: Food in Kenya
In this section, I’ll answer some of the most common questions about Kenyan food, from its staple dishes to its unique ingredients and culinary traditions. Whether planning a trip to Kenya or simply curious about its cuisine, read on to learn more.
Is Kenyan food spicy?
Kenyan food can be spicy, but it depends on the dish and the level of spice preferred by the individual preparing it. Some dishes, such as pilau and biryani, can be quite spicy, while others, like Ugali and Nyama Choma, are not spicy at all.
Is Kenyan food vegetarian-friendly?
Kenyan food can be vegetarian-friendly, but it depends on the dish. Many traditional Kenyan dishes feature meat as a main ingredient, but vegetarian options such as Githeri, Matoke, and Chapati are also available.
What is the spice blend used in Kenyan cuisine?
While the spice blend used in Kenyan cuisine may vary depending on the dish, common spices include cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic, and chili peppers.
What is Kachumbari?
Kachumbari is a refreshing Kenyan salsa made from chopped tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers mixed together with a sprinkle of salt and lemon juice. It pairs well with grilled meats and stews, adding a tangy and spicy flavor.
Is Kenyan food healthy?
Kenyan food is generally healthy, made using fresh ingredients such as vegetables and lean meats. However, some dishes may be high in fat or calories, so eating in moderation is essential.
Can vegetarians find food in Kenya?
Yes. Vegetarians can find plenty of food options in Kenya, especially those made with vegetables and legumes. However, it’s important to note that meat is a staple in Kenyan cuisine, so it may be challenging to find vegetarian options in some places.
Is Kenyan food similar to other African cuisines?
Kenyan food is unique but shares similarities with other African cuisines, especially those from neighboring countries such as Tanzania and Uganda.
What is the most popular street food in Kenya?
Chips Masala, a dish made from French fries cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices, is a popular street food in Kenya. Other street foods in Kenya include Mayai Pasua, Mahindi Choma, and Mutura.
Is it safe to eat street food in Kenya?
While street food in Kenya is generally safe, it’s important to be cautious and choose reputable vendors who follow proper hygiene practices.
So there you have it, my top 20 Food in Kenya! The country’s cuisine is a true delight for the senses, from the flavorful stews and meat dishes to the hearty staples and spicy snacks. Whether you’re a meat lover or a vegetarian, there is something for everyone to enjoy. I hope this article has inspired you to try some Kenyan dishes and explore the rich cultural heritage of this amazing country through its cuisine. So go ahead, grab a fork, and dig in!
- Featured Photo by Keesha’s Kitchen
- Photo in the article by Alex Munsell
- Top 10 Best Things to Do in Kenya