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30 Traditional and Popular Kenyan Foods

Updated on October 12, 2017
Necento anto profile image

I love cooking, tasting foods, and learning about different cuisines in the world.

Kenya is a country in East Africa. It is known for its wildlife safaris, beautiful landscapes, and of course, delicious food. The foods in Kenya are diverse and are a mix of ethnicity and tradition. I plan to visit Kenya soon, and these are the dishes I want to try or have already tried. I have many Kenyan friends, and because of them, I was able to try some of the dishes I mention below. The others are ones that I'm looking forward to trying.

1) Ugali

Ugali is a Kenyan staple. It's a dish made of maize flour; it's sometimes made of millet or sorghum flour. It's made by adding the maize flour to boiling water until you get a dough-like consistency. It's a bodybuilding food and good source of iron. I ate ugali many times as an accompaniment to beef stew and bean stew. I enjoyed it very much. Since then, I have learned to make it myself, and now I cook it often.

Ugali
Ugali | Source

2) Sukuma Wiki

Sukuma wiki is a dish made of collard greens, and sometimes people confuse it with kale. Ugali can be eaten with sukuma wiki. It's a dish in which collard greens are cut into thin slices and sautéed along with onions and tomatoes. It's a simple dish but full of flavor. Sukuma wiki, when translated into Swahili, means "week-pusher." It is called this because it's an affordable meal.

Sukuma wiki
Sukuma wiki | Source

3) Nyama Choma

Nyama choma is roasted meat, and one of Kenya's most beloved dishes. It is usually served with kachumbari salad and ugali. You eat it with your hands. Only salt and pepper are used to season this dish. It's one dish that should be gotten from a Kenyan street vendor in order to enjoy it to the fullest. I will hopefully soon get the opportunity to taste this yummy food.

Nyama Choma
Nyama Choma | Source

4) Chips Mayai

It is basically the combination of French fries and an egg omelet. It's considered junk food, but I guess it is fine to indulge into such foods once in a while. It is served with kachumbari and tomato sauce. This is another dish I like and enjoy, mostly as an evening snack.

Chips Mayai
Chips Mayai | Source

5) Mutura

Mutura is sausage that is made up of fresh blood and meat. Certain spices and ingredients, like ginger, scallions, garlic, and red or green chillies, are added to it. The cooked meat and blood mixture is then stuffed into a already cleaned large or small intestine of a cow or goat, and then it's grilled. It is usually eaten as an appetizer, and some people enjoy it with beer.

Mutura
Mutura | Source

6) Githeri

Githeri is a one-pot meal made up of corn and any kind of bean. It can be eaten plain or with onions, tomatoes, and seasonings of your choice. It is very easy to make and is one Kenya's nourishing staples. This is comfort food, and I like to eat it when I am not feeling so well.

Githeri
Githeri | Source

7) Mandazi

Mandazi is an African doughnut. It is cooked by frying dough in oil. Sometimes coconut milk is added into the dough for flavor. The main ingredients are flour, milk, eggs, yeast, and sugar to taste. It's incredibly tasty and goes well with tea.

Mandazi
Mandazi | Source

8) Tilapia Fry

Tilapia is widely eaten fish and very popular in Kenya because it is readily available and affordable. It is deep-fried and served with kachumbari, ugali, or pilau. This fish is rich in nutrients like vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein.

Fried Tilapia
Fried Tilapia | Source

9) Pilau

Pilau is one a popular Kenyan dish as well. It is served at almost all social gatherings. It is rice cooked in a flavored broth with meat, chicken, or vegetables. I love this food because of the various spices used, and it's incredibly flavorful.

Pilau
Pilau | Source

10) Chapatis

These are soft and layered flat breads that are eaten in many East African homes. It is very light and is eaten with tea, beef stew, or beans. I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that Kenyan chapatis are one of the best chapatis you will ever eat.

Chapati
Chapati | Source

11) Kachumbari

Kachumbari is a refreshing salad made of fresh tomatoes, onions, green chillies, coriander, a few drops of lemon juice, and salt as desired. It's a great dish when combined with grilled meats.

Kachumbari
Kachumbari | Source

12) Mukimo

Mukimo is a tasty staple food cooked by mashing green peas, potatoes, maize, and pumpkin leaves or spinach leaves all together. Sometimes beans can be used as a substitute for green peas.

Mukimo
Mukimo | Source

13) Bhajiyas

Bhajiyas are a popular snack in Kenya. They're made by slicing boiled potatoes into thin, circular slices, dipping them into a seasoned gram flour batter, and then deep-frying them. They're served hot with ketchup or other homemade sauces. They're very crispy and very filling. They taste incredible and are one of my favorite evening snacks.

bhajias
bhajias | Source

14) Samosa

Samosas are triangular-shaped pastries that are deep-fried and usually filled with minced meat. The fillings can also be potatoes or peas. This dish is very flavorful, and it's a perfect evening snack to have with tea.

Samosa
Samosa | Source

15) Maharagwe

Maharagwe is red kidney beans cooked in coconut milk. It is served hot with ugali, rice, chapati, or even mandazi. It can either be sweet or savory.

Maharagwe
Maharagwe | Source

16) Matoke Ya Nyama

Matoke is a dish made up of green bananas, meat, tomatoes, onions, capsicum, spices like cayenne pepper, salt to taste, and garnished with coriander. It's very healthy and also affordable.

Matoke
Matoke | Source

17) Mbaazi Za Nazi

This dish is basically pigeon peas cooked in coconut milk. It is usually served with mandazi or chapatis. It is famous in Kenya's coastal region and is usually eaten as breakfast.

Mbaazi za Nazi served with Mandazi
Mbaazi za Nazi served with Mandazi | Source

18) Kuku Paka

This is a mouth-watering dish made up of chicken in a coconut curry. The chicken is grilled before being added to the coconut-based curry. This gives it its smoky flavor. Here, "kuku" means "chicken" in Swahili.

kuku Paka
kuku Paka | Source

19) Mishkaki

These meat skewers are traditionally barbecued over charcoal to give it a smoky flavor. Meat skewers are cooked until they are tender and succulent.

Mishkaki
Mishkaki | Source

20) Mabuyu

Mabuyu are baobab seeds that are coated with sugar. This candy is common in coastal regions, and it comes in various flavors like chili or strawberry. It's better to buy it from a street vendor than from the supermarkets. The tree is called "mbuyu" in Swahili so thats why its called "mabuyu."

Mabuyu
Mabuyu | Source

21) Makai

Roasted maize is found on nearly every street corner. It's very delicious and, at the same time, affordable. It is roasted over charcoal, and once ready, the hot roasted maize is rubbed with lemon and chili salt. You cannot resist buying one of these when in Kenya.

Makai
Makai | Source

22) Wali Wa Nazi

It's simple coconut rice. It is popular in the coastal regions of Kenya. It is enjoyed with chicken curry, fish curry, or even bean stew.

wali wa nazi
wali wa nazi | Source

23) Karanga

This is Kenyan beef and potato stew, which is served with ugali or rice. For a beef-lover like me, this dish was mouth watering.

karanga
karanga | Source

24) Irio

Irio is mix of mashed potatoes, peas, and corn. It is usually eaten with grilled meat and is called "nyama na irio."

Irio
Irio | Source

25) Grilled Chicken

If you go to Kenya, you have to try the grilled chicken. It is one of the yummiest foods, and many people in Kenya love eating grilled chicken. It is not a Kenyan dish, but what is interesting is the extremely delicious way they cook their grilled chicken.

Grilled chicken
Grilled chicken | Source

26) Urwagwa

Urwagwa is Kenyan banana beer. It's an alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of ripe bananas, sorghum, millet, maize, and yeast. It's a local drink and is drank during some village ceremonies.

Banana Beer
Banana Beer | Source

27) Tusker Beer

One of the most popular drinks in Kenya, it has a refreshing taste. Kenya's hot climate gives you ample reason to try this beverage.

Tusker beer
Tusker beer | Source

28) Masala Chai

"Chai" means "tea" in Swahili. Kenyan tea is famous all over the world, and when combined with other ingredients like ginger or cardamom, the flavor is deliciously beyond imagination.

masala chai
masala chai | Source

29) Coleslaw Salad

This is a popular salad in Kenyan cuisine, and it goes with almost every main dish. It goes very well with grilled chicken or grilled fish. It's a salad that's made up of cabbage, carrots, onion, celery, apple or pineapple, and mayonnaise.

30) Odowa Stones

These stones are sold in streets or in supermarkets. Pregnant women seem to especially like these stones. It's a strange habit. You can try one of these just to know the taste.

odowa stones
odowa stones | Source

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    • Necento anto profile image
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      nicci 3 weeks ago from ukraine

      Yes Louise, it's a beautiful country with beautiful people and amazing food. Thanks for the comment.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 3 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

      The Kenyan food looks lovely. I'd love to visit Kenya. It's a beautiful country.