Kenyan Food Overview: 7 of Kenya’s Best Dishes

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Here is a list of 20 Kenyan food favorites to help you get excited about eating Kenyan food!

1. Ugali (Cornmeal Staple)

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The undeniable most common Kenyan food staple is ugali — usually made from cornmeal that is added to boiling water and heated until it turns into a dense block of cornmeal paste. Ugali has the consistency of a grainy dough and the heaviness of a brick.

For many Kenyans, ugali along with a small amount of cooked vegetables or saucy stew is a normal meal.

2. Nyama Choma (Roasted Meat) — Pride of Kenyan Food

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Any Kenyan food list is not complete without a mention of nyama choma, also known as roasted meat. Goat and beef are the 2 most common forms of nyama choma, but chicken (kuku choma) and fish (samaki choma) are also valid choices.

Fat and the grizzle from the meat is the choice part of the animal, and is often consumed with a quick dip into a pile of salt for extra flavoring! It’s also possible at many places to get the “fry,” — the fried meat variation.

Find the best places to eat nyama choma in Nairobi right here.

3. Chapati (Flatbread)

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Chapatis in Kenya can trace their origin from the influence of the Indian population. Kenyan-style chapatis are made with flour dough that is wound into a coil before being rolled into a flat round circle. The dough is then fried on a skillet accompanied by plenty of oil so it becomes crispy on the edges but remains moist and doughy on the interior.

Chapatis can be considered more of a special form of Kenyan food, a treat to eat. Chapatis go well with fried cabbage, beans, or even just rolled up with a cup of tea!

4. Mandazi (Kenyan Doughnut)

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They can be smelled from a kilometre down the street, that lovely familiar scent of a blob of deep frying dough.

The smell is enough to entice anyone to make a mandatory mandazi stop.

Mandazi’s make a great snack or a light breakfast with a cup of sweet chai.

5. Grilled Maize

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One of the most popular on-the-go snacks in Kenya is a cob of roasted maize. The corn is picked when it has become mature, so it’s a dry starch that is perfect for roasting over hot embers.

As the maize roasts, some kernels pop like popcorn while others blacken to a crunchy crisp. Some street stall vendors will supply a chilli lime salt garnish for the grilled maize.

6.Chai (Kenyan style tea)

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Kenyan coffee is one of the more famous varieties on earth, yet it is the tea that is the popular hot drink of choice for many locals. Kenyan tea is brewed dark, mixed with plenty of whole-fat milk, and sweetened up with a few heaping tablespoons of sugar.

As for myself, give me a kilo of mbuzi choma sliced from the hind leg, a side of kachumbari, and a warm Tusker or bottle of Stoney Tangawizi and I’m a very, very happy man.

7. Kenyan Stew

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Kenyan stew can include a number of different meats: beef stew, goat stew, chicken stew or any other animal stew. Kenyan stew dishes might also include a few other base vegetable ingredients such as carrots, peppers, peas, or potatoes. The sauce is usually formed from a light tomato base and accented with onion, salt and pepper, and that essential mchuzi mix!

What’s your favorite Kenyan food?



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