Mama Africa

Travel and Photography Blog

Food in Kenya and what to expect

nyama choma in nairobi kenya

Nyama choma (roasted goat meat) in Nairobi, Kenya

In my opinion, food in Kenya is really good, simple and cheap.

There are many local delicacies that we really enjoyed. One element of the Kenyan cuisine that you should try is ugali, made from cornmeal heated in boiling water. It’s like a dense block of paste! We liked it very much because it’s similar to uncooked and unsalted Mexican tortilla. For Kenyans ugali is really important. They always served us a lot of it with many of our meals! I like adding salt to it (I have a salty tooth) because it adds some flavor to the cornmeal, but I’m not sure if the locals do the same. To eat ugali, you only need to grab a piece of it and roll it into a small ball. Then you form a depression in it with your thumb, which helps you scoop sauces, stews or meat. Enjoy!

Another side dish that is very similar to a Mexican dish is kachumbari. It’s prepared with the same recipe as the “pico de gallo”: diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro, chili pepper, and sometimes even avocado!

We also tried other things like sukuma wiki, a healthy leafy vegetable cooked in oil that serves as a side dish; nyama choma, roasted goat or beef meat which is eaten as a main dish, and masala chips, French fries (chips) with tomato sauce and herbs usually served next to a burger. We usually ordered some meat (beef, goat or chicken) served with a cabbage salad or with normal French fries.

For breakfast we always had eggs (omelet, fried or scrambled), a local sausage, and bread or chapatti (Indian flat bread). When we were hungry we asked for an extra meat samosa.

breakfast in kenya

Breakfast (eggs, sausage, chapatti, samosa and instant coffee) in Narok, Kenya

For a snack we had boiled corn on the cob, and for beverages we enjoyed tea, milk with instant coffee or the world-famous Coca Cola. Remember to only drink purified bottled water.

Besides the local dishes, in most tourist destinations you can find international food. There are no international chains like McDonalds, Starbucks or Pizza Hut, but you will find it in hotels and in a couple of restaurants in big malls or close to areas where muzungus (foreigners) are abundant. We tasted amazing burgers in Naivasha, delicious salads in Nairobi and great frozen coffee beverages in Nakuru.

If you will stay for a long time in Kenya or like to cook your own meals, you can find a great selection of international ingredients (and all sort of groceries) in any of the big supermarkets in the country. We visited Nakumatt and Uchumi and they had many more things than we expected.

The prices are also great. For example, at local restaurants: 2 fried eggs, 1 sausage and 1 chapatti cost 120 shillings (1.4 USD). Beef stew with French fries costs 200 shillings (2.3 USD). Half a chicken with ugali was about 340 shillings (4.5 USD). A mug of white coffee, which is milk, instant coffee and sugar costs 40 shillings (0.45 USD), the same price for a 300-milliliter soda. In comparison, international food is much more expensive. For a nice burger we paid 720 shillings (8 USD) and a frozen coffee was 270 shillings (3 USD). It’s also worth mentioning that even though tips are not expected in restaurants in Kenya, we always left around 10-15% of the total balance if the waiter provided a good service.

All restaurants looked really clean and we never got sick during the time we spent in Kenya; this is great considering that we ate at really small local joints in small towns.

Written by Stephany

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