A Month In Kenya: Food


I was going to warn that this may be a multi-post topic, but when I think about it, that's probably not true. We have had many of the same foods again and again, and will probably keep doing so throughout our trip with a few exceptions. And that's a GREAT thing. Kenyan food is delicious, and I know that Harry especially is thrilled to be able to eat his favorite things while he has the opportunity. (And he doesn't even have to cook them!)  

Here's a brief glossary (ones in bold are pictured below): 

  • Nyama choma (pronounced "NYAH-muh CHO-muh"): Swahili for "roasted meat", this usually is chicken or goat broken into easy-to-handle chunks. The thing Harry looks forward to eating the most. 
  • Mandazi (pronounced "mahn-DAH-zee"): A delicious pastry like a doughnut hole or a beignet, faintly sweet and often flavored with cardamom and/or nutmeg. The thing I look forward to eating the most!
  • Sukuma wiki (pronounced SKOO-ma WEE-kee): Swahili for "push the week" or "stretch the week" because it makes the most of the least ingredients and can help fill a plate that may be growing empty toward the end of the week. Made from collard greens and/or spinach and/or kale cooked in oil and onions and maybe cream until really soft.   
  • Chapati (pronounced "chuh-PAH-tee"): This looks similar to a wheat tortilla. Another one of our favorite things, it is quite versatile. We eat them wrapped around fried eggs, or with any type of dinner item like beef stew. 
  • Fruit juice: The mango and tropical versions are a staple of Kenyan meals. They're usually served in the tetra paks and people pour the desired amount into their glasses. 
  • Samosa (pronounced "suh-MO-suh"): This is a baked or fried triangle of dough filled with minced meat, peppers, onions, and spices.   
  • Masala Chai ("Spiced Tea"): Tea is the conclusion of every meal in Kenya, and often a snack sometime during the day too. It's usually cooked on the stove with water and milk so that all the flavors (nutmeg, black pepper, cloves, cardamom) fuse deliciously. This is the kind of tea I drink at home since I became obsessed after our last visit here. It took awhile to find a tea bag that approximates the spicy mix of tea served in Kenya, but this one by Wagh Bakri does the trick. 
  • Cabbage: This is one of my very favorite things (Harry makes awesome cabbage), but we've only had it once so far. Shredded cabbage is simmered with onions, tomatoes, and spices (Harry used to use this one called Royco a lot; Courtney added a little curry powder similar to this one that Harry likes). It is a flavorful accompaniment to chicken or beef stew. 
  • Chicken or beef stew: Hunks of meat are simmered with tomatoes, onions, and spices (again, Royco or something similar is often used). 
  • Ugali (pronounced "ooh-GOLL-ee"): This is a starchy thing made from corn. It's similar to polenta and holds its shape enough to be cut into hunks or squares. It kind of looks like a lump of cafeteria mashed potatoes, if that makes any sense. We haven't had ugali yet on this trip because the severe drought this year has caused a shortage of maize.

Mark found a whole-grain sourdough bread that is AMAZING and I eat that for breakfast with tea every morning. The boys got some "Loopy Nuts" (they look like Cheerios and supposedly have peanuts in them but they're invisible to the naked eye). Of course the mangoes are huge and amazing, as are the avocados I mentioned on Day 2. And the bananas here are smaller and sweeter. Although it kind of creeps me out that they remind me of spiders for some reason. (shudder)