Chakula – Food

From the second we arrived we were thrown into the experience of African food. Our first meal consisted of pasta with a fish stew and a dish called umboga.

Umboga – is essentially a varied vegetable dish. The base is steamed cabbage but we have had it with green bell peppers, tomatoes and onions mixed in as well. Many of the stews are tomato based and include fish or beef, the two most common meats.

Vegetables can be purchased at a grocery store or more commonly any number of stands along the street. The stands are made of sheet metal and can be seen every five feet in some places but often are no more than 100 feet apart. We purchased a bag of cabbage for 30 Kenyan shillings (close to 30 cents) and avocados (the big ones) are 20KSh.

Other Kenyan staples we have eaten and learned to cook include ugali, chapatti, sukuma, matoke, mandazi, grilled maize, samosas, smoki, chai, modoro, sour milk and nyama choma. Here are some brief descriptions of them and our experiences! 100KSh is essentially $1

Ugali – This is undeniably the most common food in a Kenyan diet. It is made by adding corn meal to boiling water. It can be compared to grits but it much thicker like a dough. Usually  it is served with vegetables or a saucy stew and eaten with one’s hands. It received a lot of hype from Kenyans and we think it’s good too… a few times a week.

Chapatti – Easily the second most common food is like a flatbread. It is originally from India and made with flour, sugar, and water. The other night a woman Diane (cousin of a U-tena employee) taught us how to make Chapati. She began by eye-ing the ingredients and then mixing and folding the dough with her hands. We then rolled the dough flat, cut it into strips, rolled the strips (like a cinnamon roll) and then flattened those into a tortilla shape. We then placed those in a pan with oil and cooked them much like a pancake. I (Carly) personally love chapati; it is warm and doughy and can be eaten with anything (we love having it with avocado). They can be purchased many places along the street as well. 50KSh or less

Sukuma – Kale! It is steamed and eaten with Ugali.

Matoke – Plantain stew. Originally from Uganda is is made with onions tomatoes and garlic. 120KSh

Mandazi – Kenyan Doughnut! Thick and fluffy. 20 KSh

Grilled Maize – This is corn that can be found on every block. The chefs cook it on a grate over hot coals. It is charred and delicious and offered with lime and a mysterious chili salt that will change your life. 20 KSh

SAMOSAS – We love samosas. They are everywhere and they are delicious. They are pocket of dough full of meat and spices… originally from India. 20-50KSh

Smoki – another food that can be found around every corner. It is a small beef sausage. 20 -40KSh

Chai – We were so pleasantly surprised when we found out Kenyans drink chai tea (always with milk) like its water. We have it every morning and some times after work as well.

Modoro – Bean soup. Our third day we went to lunch with some of the U-tena staff at a small slum restaurant (a sheet metal shack about 30 x 15 ft). They served modoro with either chapatis or ugali. It was delicious and cost 280 KSh for the seven of us, about 40KSh per person.

Maziwa Mala – Sour milk… seems scary, tastes delicious. We were nervous at first but with a little sugar sour milk makes a great dessert – much like a plain keifer.

Mutura – goat intestine sausage. This is a Kenyan classic but we haven’t worked up the courage for it yet – we may never. Vigilantly trying not to confuse these sausages with the Smokis.

FINALLY NAMA CHOMA – This is literally burnt meat and its delicious. You can order a Kilo for 500 KSh. Goat and beef are the most common meets. It is served with all the fat and grizzle and dipped in salt.

While we have enjoyed all the food so far we tapped into our bougie side today and are currently sitting at the “Starbucks” of Kenya called Java – eating overpriced food and capitalizing on their amazing wifi.

There is still a mountain of Kenyan cuisine to be discovered from street side to restaurants to shacks. WE ARE SO EXCITED. and so full.

–Carly Paul



2 thoughts on “Chakula – Food

  1. Lori Pivonka

    We love food experimenting! Sounds so fun and very yummy! See if you can purchase some of the “mysterious” spice they put on the corn. I would love to try it!!


  2. Aunt Laura

    I’m so glad that you girls are being brave and experiencing the local cuisine! Enjoy your time there and absorb as much if the local culture as you can! Love you, Seisei!


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