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Vol 3.08 | August 2017

PROUDLY KENYAN JIKO MASTER Teddy Kinyanjui tells us the story behind Cookswelll Jikos

SOUL FOOD Health benefits of our wonderful Kenyan cuisine

KALUHI’S KITCHEN Food blogger Kaluhi Adagala shares her favourite recipes




Having made it out on the other side of a tense but thankfully peaceful election period, we felt it was only right that we keep the spotlight on our country, the colourful people and our diverse culinary heritage. This month we ditch our utensils and get stuck in with a Yummy dedicated to all things proudly Kenyan. Standing tall as an African jewel, we’ve blossomed as a nation since independence. There’s so much to love about Kenya. For me, it’s the food and rituals around preparing and eating that have cemented my love affair with my motherland. One thing that has always baffled me though, is the fact that our local dishes and traditions seem to always take a backseat to international food trends. While we unapologetically love our warm mandazis, char-grilled nyama and fiery kachumbari, our cuisine has never quite picked up in mainstream appeal like that of the Indian subcontinent or Thailand for example. Which is a shame given what we have to offer. Things however are slowly starting to change and many of us so called modern folk are adapting recipes from our parents at home. Local establishments are also jumping in on the game and it is not uncommon to find menus that feature modern twists on local classics and incorporate carefully selected, beautiful Kenyan produce. The dishes we grew up on are making a comeback, serving up a healthy portion of nostalgia.

I remember the distinct smell of jiko smoke sticking to my mother’s powersuits as, upon returning from work, she’d light the charcoal on our apartment balcony. She’d boil githeri, stew kienyeji chicken and make perfectly golden chapos that we’d eat fresh off the hot plate. Cut to today and the first thing I will always request when I go home is anything traditional and she just loves it! She beams as she watches her grown children steal spoonfuls of Terere and Kunde, the tradition dark leafy greens of our ancestors, straight from the pot. She jazzes up typically bland githeri by incorporating curry style ingredients and slow cooks hearty beef stews with boney meat from the local butcher, Mithiori, usually wiped up with fist fulls of fluffy ugali. It’s this very nostalgia that runs through Carrey Ronjey’s feature on page 31. He recalls a particular trip to his grandmothers in Western Kenya where the feast was fit for a king and came with a side of drama typical of family gatherings. Another guest writer, Adam Kiboi, steps in for Charity Keita and tells us of his oyster hunt through the mangroves

of Kilifi on page 19. For our monthly Producer to Plate column we decided to give credit where credit is due by featuring local sustainability superstar Teddy Kinyanjui, founder of the Cookswell jiko charcoal oven. A man who inherited a love for making practical and ecological charcoal burners from his late father, Teddy is also at the forefront of the Kenyan reforestation movement and brings with him a passion for conservation and incredible respect for food. We couldn’t be more honoured to have soaked up some of his wisdom and you too can read up on it by flipping through to page 24. This month Kenya’s very own blogger of the year, Kaluhi Adagala, graces our pages by telling us how her heritage influences her dishes and inspired her blog. Read more on page 37 and enjoy her take on some local classics including a hearty kienyeji stew and succulent pork chops on page 38 and 39. Finally, this wouldn’t be an authentic Kenyan Issue without a little booze! Being totally incapable of steering clear of our ka local on the weekends, we are a nation that enjoy

our tipple and there is no shame in that. So this month, our drinks contributor, Jeannette Musembi brings you her top three classic dawas in Nairobi and throws in a simple recipe to try out at home on page 43. Pride is a feeling of deep pleasure and satisfaction, derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. Whatever else you feel you have to be proud of today, take the time to look towards home and get inspiration from the rich culinary heritage we have. Then boil yourself up a cup of chai and maybe one for your neighbour too!


Michelle Slater General Manager

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Be sure to catch up with the latest foodie news.

Susan Wong discovers her go to place in Nairobi for a variety of meat dishes.



Amina Abdi Rabar shares her love for all things coffee



Chef Godfrey Ouda talks to us about his culinary journey.



Leon Weche tells us the benefits of Kenyan food.



The best places around Nairobi to sample nyama choma.



Kaluhi Adagala shares her favourite Kenyan recipes

24 36 JIKO MASTER Teddy Kinyanjui shares the creative and inspiring story behind Cookswell Jikos.

YUMMY Vol. 3.08 · August 2017 · PUBLISHED BY EATOUT, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MANAGING DIRECTOR Mikul Shah GM Michelle Slater DESIGN Rachel Mwangi, Brian Siambi SALES, MARKETING & OPERATIONS Daniel Muthiani, Devna Vadgama, Faiza Hersi, Gilbert Chege, Haddy Max Njie, Jane Naitore, Joy Wairimu, Ruth Wairimu, Seina Naimasiah, Winnie Wangui CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Katy Fentress CONTRIBUTORS Adam Kiboi, Amal Mohamed, Carrey Frances Ronjey, Irene Ouso, Katy Fentress, Leon Weche, Jackson Biko, Susan Wong, Jeannette Musembi PHOTOGRAPHY Tatiana Karanja IT Douglas Akula, Erick Kiiya SALES INQUIRIES Call Yummy, 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL






JUICE FIX Raw and pure organic juice from Juice Cures Sample some delicious cold pressed juice from Kenya’s 1st only Certified Premium Cold Press Juicery. JuiceCures has got you covered and have restocked their collection of juices at Mom3ntum Coffee Shop. The juices contain NO SUGAR, NO WATER and flavours like Green Cleanse, Moringa Magic and a whole lot more are yours for the asking. They also offer a range of targeted juice cleanse programs for weight loss, immunity and skin clearing. They deliver too, so go ahead and get your juice fix. 0715 743 378. @juicecures_254

GIFTING HEROES In the spirit of giving back to society, Artcaffe says Thank You This August, Artcaffe Coffee & Bakery Kenya is gifting people who selflessly give back to the community with our Good Samaritan #GiftItForward Campaign. Nominate your good samaritan and tell them why on their social media pages @ArtcaffeKenya. In the spirit of coming together, join them in taking a moment to simply say THANK YOU.

BOOCH’S HERE! Join the craze and enjoy the delicious Kombucha drink from Booch Kombucha, also known as the ‘Immortal Health Elixir’ by the Chinese and originating in the Far East around 2,000 years ago, it is a beverage with tremendous health benefits like digestion. Also used as a mixer, your tastebuds will thank you. Available from Wasp & Sprout, The Boho Eatery, Mom3ntum Fitness, The Green Spoon, The Dip Station, The Alchemist and Tin Roof Cafe.



TASTE OF INDIA Exotic dishes and tongue-tingling Indian flavours at Peppercorn Take a culinary trip to India at Peppercorn Restaurant, Nextgen Mall on Mombasa road and sample their authentic Indian dishes skillfully prepared by their chefs from India. From butter chicken to mutton rogan josh and paneer tikka masala, their signature dishes are a must-try. Whether you want a warm, hearty gravy or a piping hot tikka, Peppercorn has it all.

BONA FIDE LEBANESE Delicious Lebanese food for every palate at Charlie’s Bistro Enjoy an extensive Lebanese menu featuring grilled meats and delicious vegetarian options like Fattoush at Charlie’s Bistro, South End mall, Langata. They have a fully stocked bar and provide unforgettable cocktails.

PUB GRUB Tuck into some English comfort food right here in Nairobi The British Pub Grub is a small piece of England right here in Nairobi. While at The Hub in Karen, stop by and dig into a comforting shepherd’s pie or cut into a perfectly grilled steak. All this while you watch your favorite football team on the large screens, listen to live music or just relax in the English pub atmosphere. For game night, choose from dominoes, cards, chess and more available at the pub.




Happiness in a Cup.”


How do you like your coffee? I love a regular house coffee. I’m what many consider a sweet tooth so I tend to take it with lots of sugar. Let’s be honest, coffee tastes so much better with some sweetness. What’s your go to pastry when having coffee? Two of my favourite C’s. I’m talking about a croissant or carrot cake. Are you a traditional coffee drinker or are you willing to explore when it comes to your cuppa? I don’t mind exploring different blends and combinations, you never know what you’ll find. I tend to have an open mind when it comes to coffee. Exploring and drinking is a form of art for me. Which is your favourite blend of coffee and why? Wow! That is a hard question when you think about it. I don’t think I have a specific one.


Which is the best setting to enjoy a hot cup of coffee? In a casual setting, you get to experience the conversations with different people. Another is during a crazy time schedule. An example is my own, taking coffee makes me feel like I can do it all- without feeling tired. So because of that, yes it should always be part of an experience whether mixing with new friends and family or cutting through a hectic day. Do you get some sense of pride when you hear people talk about Kenyan coffee? Have you tasted our coffee? It’s amazing. I always find it amusing when people pack lots of Kenyan coffee when travelling away from Kenya and the visitors who come here, taste it and are hooked after one cup. After that, they buy as many packs as they can carry. A sense of pride just washes over me.


BACK HOME Coke studio participant Nyashinski, who recently garnered over one million views on his YouTube lyric video talks about Kenya, his music and attempts at making ugali. Did he succeed? Anyiko Owoko finds out.

“My love for Kenya is what really makes me Kenyan. I love our people, food, slang, humor and music! That’s what defines my love for Kenya,” says top Kenyan artiste Nyashinski. We are sitting at Sarova Stanley’s Pool Deck Restaurant overlooking the city, tucked away from Nairobi’s hustle yet just a few metres from the glimpse of it. I am meeting Nyashinski right after a hard day at work at the recording of the upcoming edition of Coke Studio dubbed ‘Coke Studio Africa – 2017’ set to air from September across more than 30 African countries. Paired alongside legendary South African group Mafikizolo this year, an elated Nyashinski glows at revealing the magic of their collaboration. He says, “I’m very excited about working with


Mafikizolo and Sketchy Bongo – a music producer from South Africa. In person Nyashinski doesn’t emit rays of celebrity or the kind of persona rap music exudes. He’s pretty laid back, soft-spoken and even a little reserved. He shies away from talking about his family because he likes to keep it private. He first shot to fame while still a member of the early 2000’s Kenyan hit rap group: Kleptomaniax. After their highflying stint, Nyashinski would leave for the US only return a decade later in 2015. Many must have prophesied that with a defunct group and a long sabbatical, it would be hard for Nyashinski to reignite his own solo career. He says, “I am speechless and extremely humbled by the reception I’ve gotten.

We all know comebacks are almost impossible so I’m very thankful to God, my fans and my team.” It’s now early evening and from the Pool Deck we can see Nairobi’s sunset coming down. Nyashinski orders for Smoked Salmon Pâté and I ask for a Crispy Bacon Avocado sandwich with lettuce and mayonnaise dressing to match. The food is glorious! I am curious to know if at all what Nyashinski can cook up if we threw him in the kitchen. He jests, “My omelette is certainly above average. The disaster was when I was learning how to cook Ugali - it would always come out like Uji,but in the end, I managed” fast picking his favourites: “I like Chapos (chapati) because you can have them for breakfast, lunch

or dinner. Also, they taste amazing!” Nyashinski also got a chance to dine or eat out Mafikizolo. “I fed them Maembe Pili Pili (Mango with Chili) and Theo enjoyed it! Nhanhla, not so much.” Since Nyashinski’s return he has produced a plethora of hits including ‘Now You Know’, LETIGO’, ‘Mungu Pekee’ and the recent double releases: ‘Malaika’ and ‘Aminia’. ‘Mungu Pekee’ later became Kenya’s first lyric video to surpass 1 Million views on YouTube. He credits his success to always being deeply conscious. “Regarding my career, I don’t do music with expectations. I just do it from the heart.” Last year on Coke Studio Africa Nyashinski collaborated with Nigerian top female artiste Yemi Alade. Their chemistry was so in tune sparking rumours that the two were dating. However, they were just cooking up Yemi’s new Swahili banger ‘Nakupenda’ which features in the latest EP: Mama Afrique. Many wonder whether we’ll ever see a full Kleptomaniax reunion. Nyashinski asserts: “You never know but we will always work on songs and projects together, for sure!” Juxtaposing sweet melodies in songs and delivering a rap flow so addictive—Nyashinski is by far one of the most versatile Kenyan artistes of our time. We are sure that his triumphant return, love for Kenya and career trajectory is a story that continues to unfold. So what food or bitings are in your technical rider? I wonder. “Chicken Wings, Samosas and Sausages. Why? Why not?”




It is a profession that not only requires great courage and bravery but also creativity. It is this creativity that propelled Joyce Chepchumba of dusitD2 into the finals of the 14th Kenya National Barista Championship (KNBC 2017) held last month. so my presentation went well. My love for coffee and positive attitude towards challenges came in handy during this time. For the competition, we are required to prepare 4 Single Espressos, 4 Milk based Beverages and 4 Espresso based non-alcoholic signature drinks. I named mine the ‘Candy Berry’ You said ‘Candy Berry’?

Despite not winning the competition, just getting into the finals – dominated by men – was quite a feat. Moreover, she was the only lady to make it to the top-six in her first attempt. We caught up with Joyce on the sidelines of the competition at the Junction Mall and this is her story. What made you participate in the KNBC 2017?

My passion for the industry and constant practice has led me to where I am today. I enjoy being a baristacreating various cups of coffee with different flavours is my thing. In fact here at dustiD2, I often interact with guests who come to my station for coffee and sometimes I end up having them try out different flavours and different coffee blends as opposed to

what they are used to. When I was selected to participate in the Kenya National Barista Championship Competition, I was thrilled and eager as I saw this as a chance to showcase my skills and also learn from other baristas. How long have you been a barista?

I have been working in the hotel industry for the last six years, having started as a waitress and later, a hostess. I joined dusitD2 Nairobi in March 2016 and after 6 months; I developed an interest in coffee and enrolled at The Nairobi School of Coffee where I trained as a barista. How was your experience at KNBC 2017?

Well, I had enough time to practice

Yes. Candy Berry. I used the Arabica SL 34 espresso coffee variety custom roasted for me by Dormans, freshly squeezed orange juice and muddled strawberries. I sweetened the drink with sugar syrup made from dates. The drink had berry aromas, tropical flavours of apricot and honey which gave it a great mouthfeel and aftertaste. What’s next for Joyce?

Of course win the next KNBC in 2018. I love beverages so I am definitely going to stick with coffee. I love the triple espresso with a full teaspoon of whipped cream when I’m not having an espresso I take a latte with a triple shot of espresso. I love the espresso because it brings out the bold coffee flavours and aromas. I have about four espressos in a day. However, I also have an interest in wine and would love to become a sommelier at some point in my journey. I often find coffee and wine to have some similarities in certain aspects such as acidity, flavours and the altitudes they thrive in.

THE FINALISTS The overall winner of KNBC 2017 was Martin Shabaya from Artcaffe and will represent Kenya in the World Barista Championship in South Korea later in the year. Dominic Kedemi also from Artcaffe was second and will represent Kenya in the Africa Barista Championship to be held in Uganda early next year. The event was sponsored by Dormans Coffee, Kenya Coffee Directorate and the Nairobi School of Coffee. 1: Martin Shabaya – Artcaffe 2: Dominic Kedemi – Artcaffe 3: Thomas Mboya – Brew Bistro 4:Joyce Jepchumba – dusitD2 5:Tony Gitonga – Sankara Nairobi 6: Vincent Molacha – Brackenhurst To learn more or enroll into The Nairobi School of Coffee email:



MEATY DELIGHTS On a quiet Monday afternoon, Susan Wong visits a culinary oasis when it comes to savoury meat dishes. On the eve of Kenya’s elections, it seemed fitting to have a Kenyan meal, stripped down to the basics, at a place where the cooking doesn’t showcase dreary clichés and posturing, where the chef knows their clientele, and where you feel like you’ve found the perfect local watering hole – affordable pints and flavourful comfort food. As with any serious bar, it’s the kind of place where you could easily misplace an entire afternoon, and where patrons automatically assume you’re taking photos of them when you walk-in with a photographer in broad daylight. And as with any serious restaurant, it’s the kind of place that you miss. You crave for that Mixed Choma Platter that arrives on a sizzling plate, which garners almost just as much attention as when someone orders a couple of bottles of alcohol with all the trimmings. The best thing about it? You don’t have to wade into Westlands and brave the Electric Avenue crowds.Jiweke Tavern is just off of Ngong Road on Kibera Road. Jiweke Tavern is certainly not a stuck-up restaurant, club or bar. In fact, the owners did well by

dispensing with the word ‘restaurant’. No need for linens or any gloss. Instead, why not draw on a little bit of history, tradition, and something humble? Seemed obvious since it was located on the grounds of an old, stone manor built in 1935. In short, you need the word ‘tavern’ to give it that vibe. Despite Jiweke Tavern being situated in such a stately estate, the bar and restaurant have overtaken the gardens with tents, couches, pillows, tables, bar stools, water features, parking, a long bar, and a children’s playground. The original manor only houses private meeting and conference rooms, and lounges. To be frank, it looked a bit cluttered during the day, but by night the ambience is the perfect backdrop for a guaranteed fun evening on the weekends. You’ll be lucky to get a table on one of their most popular days and nights, dubbed ‘Jiweke Sundays’, which runs until late or early, depending on if you’re still on today or the day after. There is a starter of salads, the julienned vegetables, fresh and crisp, carefully arranged in a circular wheel that had us rethinking if overpowering salad dressings should be abolished.

Lightly dressed with vinegar and salt, I’ve never had a salad so strippeddown before. It was surprisingly refreshing and bare. The grilled chunks of chicken were succulent and laced with the subtle smokiness from the grill. There is a plate of Chicken Wings tossed in a mess of caramelized onions, coriander, and green bell peppers. Aromatic and most importantly, the skin of the wings had a nice sear on it, this starter had us licking our fingers and wondering would we be judged if I ordered more. For the mains, there is whole tilapia cooked to your liking. We chose one to be served with a coconut sauce, while another, ‘steamed’, but I came to learn it was actually boiled whole with the ingredients. Technicality aside, the boiled tilapia was perfectly cooked. I could easily debone the whole fish in one swift movement, the meat of the fish was moist and firm, and the taste was clean and subtle. The runny sauce was more of a broth, and it was utterly delicious! No wonder it’s one of the owner’s favourite. The other tilapia was first deep fried and then finished in a coconut gravy. I’ll gladly go back just

for the fish. But the Tavern’s heart lies in it’s grilled meat platters! Moist goat meat, beef shish kebabs, seasoned flourdusted chicken, and juicy sausages – all delivered on a hot sizzling plate. This was your elevated version of a typical Choma with caramelized sweet onions adding great flavour. Every time I look at my Instagram post of this platter, it makes my mouth salivate. Service is dependent on how busy the place is. The staff at Jiweke Tavern is limited, and the kitchen is a short walk away, so don’t expect mind-blowing service. This is not the Georges Baptiste Cup where the world’s best waiter is crowned. Jiweke Tavern is a humble place with quiet ambition, including growing their outside catering arm. Think wings, stews, whole fish, chops and grilled meat served with traditional Kenyan sides. The food is straightforward and there’s nothing wrong with that; the food, is done right and sold at the right price, and is an absolute pleasure. What more can you ask for?




CULINARY GURU Winnie Wangui sat down with Sarova Stanley’s Executive Chef, Godfrey Ouda, who opens up about his culinary journey, catering for the former President and cooking for champions. The recently concluded IAAF Championships 2017 saw one particular chef and his team whip up over 70,000 meals for over 4,500 guests who had visited the country. This was made possible by the fact that Chef Godfrey Ouda, Sarova Stanley’s Executive Chef work together with their nine other establishments. Sarova Stanley Hotel, one of Nairobi’s oldest establishments is where we are meeting up with Chef Godfrey Ouda. He receives us with a warm smile; his aura exudes both humility and accomplishment. Hanging on the walls are portraits of him and the former president, His Excellency Mwai Kibaki at a cake cutting ceremony, along with accolades showcasing his achievements in the industry. We get to learn that Chef Godfrey has catered for the President during State functions and knows his diet. So what does the former president like to eat? “I can’t say!” More than 25 years ago, Chef Godfrey started as a casual labourer at a restaurant. With no intentions of becoming a chef, he only developed a keen interest after curiously watching his supervisors churn out meals that were well plated and tasted delicious. “Back then, if you wanted

to know a certain recipe, you had to be taught by your supervisor. Chef’s today have the internet as a resource of information, something which has played role in the evolution of the industry not only in Kenya but globally as well,” he says. The internet has seen the emergence of online cookbooks and YouTube videos showcasing cooking methods and plating techniques. He has grown over the years to become one of Kenya’s celebrated chefs, and has served at the Stanley for the last nine years. Designing the entire Sarova menu from scratch, he dubs this as one of his greatest achievements. To many, it’s not an easy fete but Chef Godfrey makes it sound like walk in the park. Something he is very proud of. The family man, who prefers not to carry his work home, cooks once in awhile for his family. “Food is what I do every day; a meal doesn’t need to be expertly prepared to be great. It only needs to be flavourful and palatable.” Chef Godfrey’s signature cooking style involves experimenting with different flavours and textures then blending them to develop something memorable. Like many other chefs, he attributes his accomplishments to the passion he has for his craft. He leaves his home every morning at the crack

of dawn and retires back late in the night-sometimes he doesn’t even get the chance to see the sunlight. He goes to emphasize that to become an executive chef, one has to start from the ground and work their way up, putting in effort and hard work. “It is not a career for the faint hearted, it requires long hours”. He interacts with many students training to become chefs and it saddens him to see how quickly their drive dies once they experience the reality of the job. “A chef can only grow when given the liberty to develop his own

creations and takes feedback from customers in good stride” When it comes to meals, at the snap of a finger he can whip up an egg frittata or sweet potato fries for breakfast. Grilled ugali with creamed spinach or kale and beef stew for lunch or dinner would be his version of a typical Kenyan meal with a dash of creativity. So what would this Chef be up to if he wasn’t creating culinary delights? “You would probably have met me at a workshop fixing electrical devices. I like gadgets and things like that”.




SHUCK-ALOT Young man of the beach Adam Kiboi takes one for the mollusc team, standing in for Charity Keita while she enjoys the final throes of her scorching Italian summer. I recently relocated from Nairobi to work in a delightful eco-lodge in Kilifi. Since I have spent the better part of the last year living in the oyster capital of East Africa, one would be forgiven for assuming that I spend my days shucking and slurping. The truth is that until very recently, my relationship with the mollusc has been non-existent. Oysters in sub-Saharan Africa form a vital part of local economies: here in the North Coast of Kenya, this hangover favourite is a fairly strong employment generator. My place of work alone buys 400 oysters every Friday to give to its guests for free. I don’t know what made me finally snap, whether it was the image of happy campers knocking back shell after shell as if they were shots, or simply because my friend Charity Keita had been insisting for ages that I

at least try one. The truth is, one day I just decided that enough was enough and that I would let my lesser-known adventurous side get the better of me. You see, I wasn’t just interested in trying Kilifi oysters, I decided I wanted to get to the bottom of Kilifi’s claim to fame. To aid me on my hunt I decided to enlist Captain Issa, a local dhow owner. We arranged to meet down at the beach at about 11am. It was low tide and the water was clear, “Perfect oystering conditions,” announced Captain Issa, who jumped onboard and started steering the his well-loved dhow towards one of the creek’s many mangrove beaches. Dropping anchor at a place that to my untrained eye looked no different than any of the others, Issa handed me a bucket and hammer and pointed at the trees.“Ndio hizo oyster zako”

(There’s your oysters). I thought I could just lean out the boat and knock them into my bucket with the hammer. This was not the case. Eventually the Captain convinced me to get into the water and wade through the mangroves. I basically haven’t worn shoes the entire time I’ve been in Kilifi and I soon learnt that when collecting oysters, proper footwear is essential. Oyster shells are shells are razor sharp! By the time I’d managed to knock forty oysters off the branches, my feet were slashed to ribbons. Despite the pain in my feet, which I numbed by copious amounts of tepid white wine knocked back straight from the bottle, I was excited. Captain Issa and his first mate steered the dhow to an empty beach where they built a fire using some wood from the nearby forest. I had always thought

oysters were eaten raw so imagine my surprise when Issa tossed them into the flames! While they roasted, he prepared a mixture of seawater, chillies and wild thyme. After a brief three minutes, he pulled all the shells out of the flames and placed them back in the bucket. For the next hour we exchanged tales of our travels as we shucked oysters and dribbled them with his salty concoction. Four hours later as we sailed home, I decided I could now pretty much consider myself an oyster expert. While before I was apathetic to them, I had very clearly been missing out. Now I make an order for oysters every three days and try to make Issa’s special sauce. I haven’t got it right just yet, but I will soon but am proud to say that a bucket of “world-famous” Kilifi oysters should be on everyone’s bucket list.



IDENTITY MEDLEY Amal Mohamed gets all nostalgic as she harks back to her childhood and the many layers and ingredients that make up her proud Kenyan Somali sense of identity. I’m proudly Kenyan - Kenyan Somali. One of the cornerstones of this identity lies in the culinary universe I grew up in. I explain my heritage in terms of the way the Kenyan food experience shaped my Somali culture and vice versa. My identity is the intertwining of two heritages, or in more culinary terms: is like the product of the blending of Kenyan cornflower and Somali sorghum, that results in the prized Somali delicacy: anjero. My childhood memories are imbued with smells: the vivid visuals and sounds of simmering goat meat softened away from its bones, aromatic biryani and spiced pilau. Casting my mind back to the list of meals that I call home makes me want to start my day skipping to the kitchen barefoot. In my childhood kitchen each morning I would find my mother hunched over the jiko airing burning charcoal. “There is a different taste


with the jiko”, she would always say when asked why she didn’t want to use the stove instead. Anjero batter would be at hand, ready to be laid out on a traditional flat pan in smooth circular motions. Anjero—not to be confused with its cousin the teff Ethiopian injera—is a small round sourdough pancake the batter of which is left to ferment overnight. Once this Somali version of the English crumpet is cooked to crunchy perfection, it is drizzled with butter or ghee and liberally sprinkled with sugar. Anjero which cannot be eaten without the obligatory accompaniment of heavily sweetened hot shaa (tea). Our tea is a medley of milk and sugar, boiled with tea leaves from Kericho, crushed cardamom pods, peppercorn, cloves, cinnamon sticks and ground ginger which is poured in just before the boil. The result is a pot of deep caramel liquid which emanates strong wafts of

masala fumes. I remember laughing with my mother on how our lunches used to rotate the staples of ugali, chapati, pasta, and baris (Somali spiced rice). My family’s history is firmly rooted in Kakamega—we go back too many generations to count— and so ugali was of course a necessary weekly treat. My mother accompanied this quintessential Kenyan cake with tomato-softened sukuma wiki, dry beef stew and chilli kachumbari. Chapati, another homage to our Kenyan heritage, was a treat paired with a maraq digaag (a watery chicken spiced soup) which could either drown and soften the chapati or be sipped separately after every bite. This is a prime example of how Somali sijuis (the name given to Kenyan Somalis by Somalis from Somalia) incorporate their two heritages. Pasta, a traditionally Italian meal is also a Somali staple, a remnant of the Italian presence in Somalia which ended in

1941. Basto iyo suugo hilib shiidan, the Somali version of Spaghetti Bolognese, adds and sometimes substitutes oregano and basil, with coriander, cumin and a handful of crushed garlic. This gives the sauce a distinct citrusy, curry like taste. No pasta dish would be complete without a banana to balance the savoury with a fruity, sweet sensation. A lesser known fact is our deserts. My childhood neighbours and fellow playmates delighted in our afternoon treats which included shushumow (a deep fried, shell shaped pastry rolled in icing sugar), the swahili-like kashata (coconut candy) and halwa (akin to Turkish delight) all accompanied with a tall glass of cold milk. The best way to cool the competitive edge after a game of kati in the estate. And just like that, like the delicious cross of ingredients and the mixing recipes from histories long forgotten - just like that is how I am Kenyan Somali.







KEEPING IT MAA Whether it’s our fiery sunsets, magnificent wildlife, picturesque landscapes or long distance runners, Kenya can be classified as the supermodel of inspiration. Combined or soaked in separately, this great country seeks to awaken facets of creativity we had no idea existed. Natalie Mwedekeli of Mama Rocks shares her version of what inspired her brand of creativity. If wearing Maasai treads, beaded chokers and Kikoy booty shorts whilst knocking back cold Tuskers were not a health and safety risk on the Mama Rocks truck, we would embellish being Kenyan to a fault. It is intrinsic to us as business owners to celebrate what it means to be Kenyan and to shout about it at home loud enough so that we can be heard across all borders. There are plenty of occasions where the Mama Rocks crew have bounced along to the sounds of Kenyan musicians such as Fena, Sage, Blinky Bill and Sauti Soul. We rocked the truck with our dance moves to the point that customers thought that’s how we acquired the Mama Rocks name! – Music is the lifeblood of our brand, especially that of Kenyan origin. It is evident that patriotism runs

deep amongst our customers, of all different races and creeds. Case in point our best selling burger is the Mango Maasai Mama, the crowned queen of all Mama Rocks burgers. “Her” Chili Mango sauce with a thick mayonnaise texture is inspired and rooted in many a recipe found on the Kenyan coast or, as my auntie tells me, a nostalgic treat found at a matatu stage back in the day aka Maembe na Pilipili. We purposely made the Angus cattle (native to Scotland) step aside to make way for our traditional Boran cattle. The Zebu beef variety is bred in East Africa; smart hardy cows that roam freely in the Ol Pejeta conservancy alongside great elephants and large herds of zebra. The breed has been known to recognise imminent danger and defend themselves, unlike their Angus

brethren who fall to pieces at the sight of a lion. The rich history and customs of the Maasai got our creative juices flowing to the extent that the Mango Maasai Mama has a little anecdotal story. It is said that the higher a Moran (Maasai Warrior) can jump, the less dowry he has to pay. A story is told of En-Kai, a young moran seeking a bride but unfortunately, he could not jump! The family of the bride acquired 500 cattle and became millionaires overnight. The Masai Mama was born. The Beef, a symbol of wealth, the Mango symbolic of the yellow sun that brings happiness and fertility and finally the red pili pili hoho, red being the sacred colour of the Masai Shuka representing bravery, strength and unity. Being proudly Kenyan in what

brought us back from the UK. It is our mission as a business to shout about our heritage and traditions, embrace what we do well as a nation and to make our PR campaign brand Kenya. Hollywood has branded the US to the point where we have all been sold the American Dream. When Europe comes to mind we think of high end fashion houses, fine dining and architecture. We want to make Kenya fierce – a creative centre of excellence, great food and innovation. We have a lot of love and respect for our long distance runners, wildlife and excellent tea and coffee but we want to tell the world more – let’s stretch the narrative and re-write a modern story that puts Kenya on the map as a strong global contender for her other many hidden talents.



If the culinary cornerstone of a country is roasted meat, it stands to reason that its most celebrated design product be a charcoal oven. Or so thinks Katy Fentress, as she jumps at the chance to interview the brain behind the hugely successful Cookswell jiko line of ovens.




The night was dark and heavy, humidity from the afternoon’s rains rising in a fine but clammy mist. There was no word on when, if ever, the electricity would be switched back on. Our phones were on low battery so we sat on the long balcony of the farmhouse enjoying the sounds of the cool Nyeri night. Only the dull warmth of the little charcoal oven reminded us that dinner was still on the go. I shone a light on the door of the Cookswell oven as our host pried it open with his tongs. A wave of heat and the sweet rich smell of lamb extended into the darkness. He skilfully extracted a foil-wrapped leg and lay it onto a battered, white oblong platter. With blind strokes, he peeled the meat off the bone and

with a flourish of hands, sprinkled salt and then drizzled olive oil onto the awaiting food. We dived in, without light it was impossible to see who was being the greediest so the best policy was just eat until it was finished. Afterwards, our stomachs full, our char-stained mouths cleaned out with long glugs of almost cold beer, we all agreed this had to be the best lamb we’d ever had. The first time I met Teddy Kinyanjui, the erudite founder of the Cookswell oven product lines, was at one of those Nairobi garden parties where the food is finished before you get there but somehow the booze still flows past the toll of midnight. Teddy was deep in conversation with a friend of mine who sat entranced as

he explained, with much waving of hands, why seed bombing was the future of reforestation in Kenya. “You mean I can just go around chucking them onto green patches on the side of the road?” she asked, thrilled at the prospect of becoming an eco-warrior on her daily drive to work. “Sure,” he answered, smiling broadly, happy to see his excitement was infectious. It’s hard not to get excited about the Cookswell jiko mission. Sold in over twenty countries, with a healthy European market and distribution system that sees them regularly sent to different corners of the world, the twenty seven different types of jiko ovens continue to be an industry

standard when it comes to lowconsumption, efficient charcoal ovens. Teddy is at pains to point out that the success of his products would not have been possible had his father, Dr Maxwell Kinyanjui, not set out to pave the way before him. “In the 1980s, the Kenyan government hired my Dad to go to Thailand to learn about their bucket stove,” he tells me over the course of a recent phone call. “This was an energy efficient cook stove, the design of which my Dad brought back to Kenya and adapted to local Kenyan cooking and manufacturing techniques” Once Dr Kinyanjui, who passed away in 2012, had adapted the bucket stoves to suit Kenyan cooking methods, he spent the next fifteen


years training local potters and sheet metal workers on how to make them. This locally-centred design proved so popular that Kenyan bucket jikos ended up being replicated across the continent from Madagascar to Sierra Leone and even as far as Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Teddy goes proud of his late father’s approach to jiko design and has strived to mimic it in his own business strategy. Another value he shares with Dr Kinyanjui is in regards to energy conservation, specifically on the issue of how to conserve the rapidly diminishing stock of trees that every day in Kenya are cut down and turned into charcoal. “Nairobi alone uses two thousand tonnes of charcoal every day,” he tells me, before launching into a detailed explanation of what he refers to as his “seed to ash” approach. “My dad and Martin Dunford (owner of Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi.) founded The Woodlands Trust to teach people how to grow trees for charcoal, posts and timber.” One of the things they realised was that the size of charcoal needed to fuel Cookswell ovens did not need to be bigger than the size of an acacia


tree branch. What that means, he explains, is that “instead of people cutting the whole tree at the bottom like they do traditionally, you can just prune all of the little small twigs and branches, carbonise them in one of our drum kilns and make a bag of charcoal in a day”. Making a bag of charcoal without felling a tree is an absolutely revolutionary change in mindset, which Teddy says is proving extremely popular around the country. The next step in the Cookswell mission to encourage sustainable charcoal production was to get people to start planting acacias. “The seed bombs project came about after many years of doing traditional tree planting,” explains Teddy. “I started to notice driving back home, that on the side of the highways there are these acacia seedlings that are doing well without anyone watering them. Turns out the sand lorries that deliver building sand inadvertently transport seeds. I did research and realised that the biggest hurdle to overcome with direct seeding is the fact that they get eaten by little birds and mice, so pelletising them inside a ball of charcoal dust is an excellent way

It epitomises the rugged and unpolished heart of the country combined with it’s desire for efficiency and practicality. to distribute seeds in hard to reach places”. The way Teddy sees it, Kenyans are pretty savvy when it comes to the environment. As a result, the next step for him was all about teaching the economics of tree planting. He believes that the secret to successful environmental practices lies in finding ways for people to make money out of them. “It really hits home when people realise that a ten shilling tree seedling is going to be worth a thousand shillings a day in ten or fifteen years. Business-wise, it makes

so much sense for us to invest in helping people grow a future source of charcoal. If we want to continue eating nyama choma in the next twenty or fifty years in Kenya, we definitely need to be planting a lot more trees”. By the looks of it, what Kenyans want to do exactly is eat more nyama choma. Yet elevating nyama choma from a haphazardly chopped hunk of meat on an old wood block, cooked over a roaring flame to something more curated, requires Kenyan customers to be more demanding: about the choice of meat, its ageing, its cut, its rearing, the spices and herbs it is cooked in and finally the medium upon which it is cooked. If ever there was a truly lifestyle oriented Kenyan brand, Cookswell would have to be it. It epitomises the rugged and unpolished heart of the country combined with it’s desire for efficiency and practicality. Teddy sums up why he believes people love his his ovens, by underlining what he sees lies at the heart of their appeal: “The heart likes it because it’s really nice looking and cooks great food and the brain likes it because it’s ecological, efficient and you save money”.



CHOMA TIME Ranking high as the favourite Kenyan food, nyama choma (grilled meat) in Nairobi is more than a meal - it is an experience that fosters togetherness. It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon in Nairobi. Clusters of friends and families have gathered in the well known nyama choma joints all around the city. Everyone is devouring roast goat, beef or chicken at tables, and drinking their favourite brand of beer or soda. A familiar aroma surrounds the place prompting you to walk to the main station to place your order. Typically, the ritual will include choosing fresh cuts of legs, ribs, and offal from a glass case with a side order of roast potatoes, ugali, vegetables and kachumbari (Kenya’s version of salsa). Depending on the number of people per table, 2Kg portion will suffice. Sometimes, a special order of mutura (blood sausage) or tumbukiza (cup of spicy soup) accompanies the meat. Most places source their meat from slaughterhouses in Kiserian, Ngong and Dagoretti which are delivered from midday having been slaughtered that morning. You can be sure that the cuts are fresh. And just like that, the cook throws the meat cuts on the grill over glowing red coals. More than 45 minutes later, the cook brings over the

charred sizzling meat cuts on a platter and slices them up quick and clean. All protocol observed in regards to hygiene, the eaters roll up balls of ugali, press it next to the nyama choma. Then they sprinkle some salt and dunk it in spicy kachumbari. After being stuffed, satisfied and connected with family and friends in a way that only a feast can bring about, they go on and enjoy conversations that make up a memorable evening. So where in Nairobi can one enjoy a hearty platter of nyama? Road House Grill (Dennis Pritt Road) Just off Dennis Pritt road is what’s considered one of the best places to get that nyama choma fix. The signature aroma of meat cuts roasting on the grill tells you why this place is so busy. The car park appears adequate though when it gets busy, the vehicles park on the roadside too. Most people are drawn to Road House grill for their goat and chicken choma platters. Be prepared to wait for an hour for your grilled goat but it is well worth it. The Eastern by pass stretch Depending on which major highway

you are driving on (Thika super highway or Mombasa road) turn off at the Eastern bypass, there lies a stretch of eateries mostly nyama choma spots. Here, you will find various kinds of roasted meats; beef, chicken, mutton, and pork. If you are on a road trip this is a perfect spot to stop and indulge or grab some for the journey. You should never miss to ask for some mutura. Ole Polos (Kiserian) About 10 Kilometers past Kiserian town is Ole Polos. Perfect for that Sunday afternoon plan, this simple nyama choma joint serves roasted beef, lamb and chicken accompanied with ugali, roast potatoes, irio and a side of green vegetables. As you wash down your meat platter with your favourite drink soak in the breathtaking view of the maasai plains. The set up features bandas and benches spread out across the vast landscape. Sagret Hotel Equatorial (Milimani Road) Sagret Hotel is not your usual nyama choma joint. They offer conference

facilities and accommodation for organizations and groups. Sagret Hotel also sets itself as the meeting place where many of the who’s who, circling the country’s political arena, hob nob and have been doing do for over 20 years. Many people meet here not just for the delicious nyama choma variety but for camaraderie. Carnivore (Off Langata Road) A nyama choma experience is not complete until one has visited the Carnivore restaurant. It is a sanctuary of perfectly prepared meat that will leave you wanting more. Whole joints of meat - leg of lamb and pork, ostrich, rump of beef, sirloin, rack of lamb, spare ribs, sausages, chicken wings, skewered kidneys, even crocodile - are roasted on traditional maasai swords over a huge, charcoal pit that dominates the entrance of the restaurant. The feeding experience doesn’t stop until defeat is declared by the guests who signal that enough is enough by lowering the white paper flag perched atop the central tray.



MAMA ITOKO! While in a mood for nostalgia, Carrey Frances Ronjey looks back on a most memorable Western Kenyan family feast of yesteryear. We had arrived early. We trooped in and my dad was immediately tasked with making sure we behaved while mum and aunties killed chickens and fried spices in the kitchen. He fell promptly asleep on the sofa. I was hungry and bored without tv or my usual distractions. My grandmother Dana’s house had hardly changed: the same century-old family pictures stared hauntingly from the corners of the house, her calendar still on the page of that politician who grinned creepily behind spectacled eyes that followed you around the room. I’m not sure why this particular trip to my disciplinarian grandma, Dana, has stuck with me for so long. It must be because it subsumes all of what I loved and hated about those visits in one neat meal. To my pre-teen self she always seemed despotic and irrational: how pointless it was to cook the same vegetable in three different ways? Who cared about who ate which part of the chicken? Sometimes I wondered if my parents never told Dana how we liked our food. Looking

back I realise that of course mummy was probably just as terrified of her as the rest of us kids. When the food was finally ready, it came out with a train of aunties carrying trays and crates of mouthwetting delicacies. There were chicken and turkey both fried and stewed, lake fish in fresh, sun-dried and deep fried options. In this classic style of culinary flamboyance, several mountain ranges of ugali occupied the horizon in different hues and flavours; white, yellow, sorghum and cassava flours. Heaps of kachumbari and a plate of that fried blood beloved by our uncles who would tap it during the slaughter. I remember my heart sinking as I watched the piles of vegetables, some of which had been prepared up to three weeks in advance according to the prescribed customs, be placed on the sagging table. Saving food and holding back from enjoying life was futile, Dana always insisted. We heard her in the kitchen as she launched into one of her tried

and tested cautionary tales: “One Christmas eve”, she began. “I was a little girl and our neighbour had a lover visit from Nyorobi.” As she distributed pieces of roast game meat on a platter, she continued: “The man had brought nice things which they cooked and saved for the next day. But she died in her sleep, prompting the lover to break all the pots with delicious food on Christmas day.” As she walked into the dining room she followed the anecdote with another of her hits: “After a good harvest, following polite rains, there will be plenty of milk.” I think this was a way of excusing the extravagance of using milk instead of water to make the ugali. In her house milk was used to cook almost all kinds of vegetables and could also be served alongside other dishes as

a delicacy, much like the way you can dip your baguette into a small plate of olive oil. I looked over at my father as he snoozed on the sofa. How could he sleep through the smell of the steaming hot food? My hunger pangs got the better of me, adrenaline gushed down my spine and I shot up like a spring. Oblivious of my elder sisters, cousins and other random guests, I shouted “Mama Itoko!” (Mum is serving!). My dad sat up with a bolt.



Fitness Coach and nutritionist Leon Weche explores what Kenyan cuisine has to offer in regards to nutritional value.

Different regions and communities in Kenya have different kinds of diets that have stuck with them for years and generations. These meals and their cooking methods have been passed down from generation to generation making them a huge part of the respective communities. I personally believe the foods people eat in different regions are responsible for how the community turns out, in regards to their health and physique. For example, people from the western part of Kenya, who mostly eat chicken and nuts (well, accompanied with a lot of farming and manual work) tend to have more muscular physique than say people raised in the North Eastern part of Kenya. With that I will try break down the different foods and their benefits.

digestion. You won’t hear anyone complain of constipation when they eat ugali. It contains a lot of carbohydrates, which helps in generating energy. The meal is so good that makes the stomach full for at least 6 hours. Maize meal is a source of iron, which is essential in building blood tissues.

grilled because this causes chemicals called HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) to form. These carcinogens can be harmful to health. Instead, wrap it with foil to prevent exessive burning or charring while on the grill so as to retain moisture making it tasty and tender.

CHAPATI Chapatis contain zinc and other minerals which are healthy for the skin. It is loaded with essential nutrients like vitamin B&E, copper, iodide, zinc, manganese, silicon, arsenic, chlorine, sulfur, potassium, magnesium, calcium and mineral salts. Therefore, even one wheat chapati can do wonders for your body.

MATOKE Matoke or cooked banana makes for a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and contains a starch that may help control blood sugar, manage weight and lower blood cholesterol levels. Fiber can also reduce risk of diabetes and heart disease. In addition, fiber food slows digestion, helping you feel full longer, aiding in weight control.

MAIZE AND BEANS Combined, they popularly known as githeri. Beans are one of the least expensive sources of protein, especially when compared to meat. Aside from protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber, they contain a powerhouse of nutrients including antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals, such as copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. Maize is a rich source of iron and carbohydrates, and combined with beans they make a very nutritious meal.

PILAU Being very moderately cooked in oil or butter, pilau or fried rice is saturated fat free and also cholesterol free. It is also very low in sodium making it a very healthy dinner option for high blood pressure patients.

SUKUMA WIKI Kale or sukuma wiki lowers cholesterol and is high in fiber content. Fiber is essential for detoxifying and cleansing the body and it’s also helpful to individuals with diabetes: It contains vitamins C and K, vitamin A, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, manganese, all of which help turn protein into sugar.

UGALI Ugali contains roughages, which help in accelerating

NYAMA CHOMA Grilled meat also known as nyama choma, is a good food but when accompanied with beer, it can increase the risk of gout, especially if the meat is grilled over an open smoky fire. So once in a while I would say it is a good protein rich meal. I would recommend that it shouldn’t be over

CHICKEN AND FISH Chicken and fish have less saturated fat than most red meats. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and some plant sources, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, the ability to control cholesterol, blood pressure and reduce the risk of cancer. Follow Leon on Instagram @leesthetics






Chili Mango


Malindi Halwa





Much like the coastal Swahili accent, Swahili food sings. Fruits, fish, pulses, grains and coconuts are blended with a symphony of aromatic spices to create a harmony of aromas and flavours. The chain that connects Swahili, Arabic and Indian food is strong. Once the heat of the day is over, you can walk the coastal streets and find your senses flooded by aromatic smells and the sounds of people exchanging pleasantries into the early evening hours. Famous spots for coastal street food include the iconic Lighthouse in Old Town Mombasa. Wherever you decide to stop and indulge, make sure you don’t miss out on some of these classic snacks, bitings and mouth watering sweets: Madafu Madafu, aka the original Vita Coco. Madafu will cure your hangover, rejuvenate your skin and rehydrate you better than any processed or packaged good. You won’t find a more hydrating drink in the coastal heat than a madafu freshly cut from a cart or street stall. Plus, it makes for a classic “I’m at the beach” Instagram post.

Kachiri Light and crisp, these thinly sliced cassava crisps tossed in salt and chili powder are a simple yet effective snack. You may feel that the deep fry would weigh you down or leave you feeling bloated, but Kachiri is expertly flash fried and doesn’t leave an oily residue on your palate .

Makai This Swahili dish doesn’t need much of an introduction. If you’re unfamiliar with it’s Swahili name,

you’ve probably seen it around Kenya. Sweet ripe maize roasted over an open fire rubbed down in fresh lime and sprinkled with chili powder, it’s a well-known Swahili snack that’s found it’s way inland.

Malindi Halwa

Mahamri What’s the difference between Mahamri and Mandazi? While opinions vary, a broad consensus seems to be that Mahamri is made with yeast and is cooked in cardamom, thus giving it a more spiced flavour than Mandazi.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but the combination of spicy and sour knows no parallel. Chili powder is sprinkled into green or underripe mangos that have been cut into stips with ensuing mouthwatering results.

This dessert is for those of you with a strong sweet tooth. Another Swahili dish that is often enjoyed during tea time with a cup of Swahili coffee, people young and old enjoy this as an afternoon treat. Made of tapioca starch, ghee, 3 cups of sugar, nutmeg, rosewater and toasted sesame seeds, this dish doesn’t need any extra sweetener in your drink. A small cube to nibble or suck on will get you a long way in terms of caloric value and sweet-tooth craving.



Chili Mango

These fried delights are made of coconut cream, flour and cardamom. Kitumbua are often consumed at breakfast with a cup of chai. Late for work? Grab a kitumbua. Late for school? Grab a kitumbua. This is the carb-based breakfast to keep you fueled throughout the day.

Other than being fun to say, you’ll want to order Mshikaki for it’s delicious marinade and easy-to-eat appeal. A Mshikaki is essentially a Swahili take on the kebab: goat, mutton or beef- skewered, marinated and grilled. Street vendors will often have their own twist on the Mshikaki marinade and it’s a perfect grab-andgo snack.

Mbaazi Often served for breakfast with the aforementioned mahmri, any trip to the coast must include this creamy pigeon pea and coconut curry. It’s a savoury accompaniment cooked with ginger, tumeric and garlic paste.

Kashata A crunchy, nutty, shareable treat. Made with sugar, peanuts, cardamom and milk powder, this snack bar is the perfect after school/work snack. Unlike many of the other street foods on this list, Kashata isn’t cooked in front of you but it’s a fun snack to munch on as you stroll the busy streets.




KALUHI’S KITCHEN Kaluhi Adagala was the overall winner of last year’s Kenyan Blog Awards and if her blog Kaluhi’s Kitchen is anything to go by, she isn’t keen on giving up that title soon. Read on to find out more about how she got to where she is today and where it is she intends to go. If I were a meal, I would be coconut crepes served with a chili-honey macerated loquat. A bit of sweet, a bit of spicy; just like me! Growing up in Kenya, I enjoyed everything that was put in front of me. I have never been a picky eater and for me everything has always been delicious. As I child I really always loved my mom’s pilau. The dish itself though did not inspire me to start my blog: in fact, it’s the nostalgic memories of the great mealtime conversations with family which geared me up to write about it all. Over the years, I’ve come to realise the importance of social media especially as a food blogger.

It has made the sharing of recipes, finding of ingredients and opinions of restaurants much simpler which in turn has helped grow the Nairobi Food Culture. Many people complain that our food (Kenyan food) is bland and lacks visual PR. Quite frankly, if someone does not like a particular aspect about Kenyan food, they should contribute to changing that. in my humble opinion, complaining without making a positive contribution solves nothing. Also, it depends on who is being asked because most people I know make really nice, visually appealing dishes and have plenty of nice things to say about Kenyan food. With that

in mind, a new generation of foodies is on the rise who have been exposed to the wonders of the world and are infinitely well traveled. One can very easily and effortlessly learn about other cultures, new methods of cooking and exotic ingredients and at the same time still celebrate one’s own. As Kenyans, we can experience new cultures and be well travelled without necessarily losing our very essence and our sense of identity. With the new generation of foodies, the new knowledge of new cultures we acquire is viewed as an addition to what we know and opposed to cancellation of who we are. Having bagged two awards within

the blogosphere is humbling. What does this mean for me as a blogger? It simply further solidifies the fact that hard work does pay off. For the industry, I believe my wins have paved the way for many more upcoming bloggers who to continually push boundaries, put out quality content and show off our country in the best light possible. As a proud Kenyan, I am blown away by our beautiful country. Our delicious food is amazing and easy to play around with creatively. Our tenacity and resilience, our warmth and hospitality. Our diversity as Kenyans is our strength.



GARLIC KUKU KIENYEJI Ingredients 1 kuku kienyeji (free range chicken), cut to pieces 1 red onion, finely chopped 5 cloves of garlic, minced 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped 1 Tbsp tomato paste 2 tomatoes, minced Vegetable oil for frying Coriander for garnish 1 cup chicken stock Salt to taste Spice blend 1 Tbsp of dried rosemary 1 Tbsp of whole black pepper seeds 1 Tbsp of cumin seeds ½ Tbsp of chilli flakes 3 cloves of garlic 1 cinnamon stick 1 bay leaf ½ tsp turmeric ½ Tbsp minced ginger Method Make your spice blend first by crushing all the spices and then combining them. Set aside. Proceed to boil your chicken until tender. In a skillet, add some vegetable oil and fry the red onion, green bell pepper and garlic until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken stock/hot water. Let this simmer down for about 5-7 minutes so that all the flavours come together. Once the time had lapsed, add the boiled tender chicken plus your homemade spice blend and allow this cook down for another 30 minutes. Once done, garnish and serve.



PORK RIBS CHOMA Ingredients 3 Tbsp of honey 2 Tbsp of dark mushroom soy sauce 2 tbsp of minced ginger 7 cloves of minced garlic 2 Tbsp habanero dip 2 red onion, finely chopped 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 1 cup of ketchup ¾ cup of mango pulp 3 Tbsp of brown sugar ½ tsp of cayenne pepper Sauce ½ Tbsp of black pepper 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 1 cup of mayonnaise ½ cup of fresh pineapple ½ Tbsp honey ½ Tbsp of finely chopped rosemary Salt to taste Method Wash Prepare all your marinade ingredients. In a bowl, add all of them and mix. Pour this over your pork ribs and ensure it covers every inch. Allow it to marinate for 48 hours. Once done, proceed to choma (roast) for about 20 minutes on each side. You can use your outdoor grill or oven. Once done, set aside. For the sauce Add the red onions and garlic into a saucepan and let them cook until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Then, add the ketchup, sugar, vinegar, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and the star of the dish, mango pulp. Cook this down for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens and all the flavours come together. When the sauce is ready, baste your pork ribs with the sauce and serve.





HOW WE KUKU Here in Kenya, an old time favourite chicken dish, kienyeji chicken, is a must in every family occasion. That said, we were curious about how other countries get down when it comes to this Kenyan favourite. Irene Ouso found out how the Mozambicans and the Tanzanians prepare their chicken dishes. KENYA Kienyeji chicken One of Kenya’s most popular dishes is the kuku kienyeji. A stewed chicken delicacy that pairs well with rice, matoke or ugali. Most market places in Kenya sell indigenous breeds of chicken or what is commonly known as kienyeji. Some butcheries sell slaughtered and defeathered chicken at an average price of Ksh. 1000, while other locals breed them in their compounds and slaughter them on their own. Once slaughtered, it is immediately dipped in piping hot water for about three minutes to soften the pores, (or else the skin will peel off) making it easy to defeather. Once that is done and the insides have been properly cleaned out, it’s ready to cook. To make it soft, boil the chicken pieces for about two hours or until tender and the oil is extracted. The chicken is usually quite fatty and it’s better (and much tastier) to fry the rest of the ingredients it in its own oil. Once the water has disappeared and all that is left is the oil, add some chopped onions and tomatoes, fry till translucent. Add salt and pepper to

taste. Should you wish to jazz it up, feel free to add turmeric, coriander, carrots, chillies or ginger. MOZAMBIQUE Frango a Portuguesa Setting its foot print at 25°57’S 32°35’E / 25.950°S 32.583°E, Mozambique is a southern African nation whose long Indian Ocean coastline sprawls with popular beaches like Tofo and Bilen as well as offshore marine parks. In the Quirimbas Archipelago, a 252 km stretch of coral islands, mangrovecovered Ibo Island has colonialera ruins surviving from a period of Portuguese rule. The Bazaruto Archipelago to the south has reefs which protect rare marine. And it’s for this reason, their popular chicken delicacy also known as Frango a Portuguesa (chicken the Portuguese way) is a must try while here. How is it prepared? The whole chicken (cut to pieces) is seasoned with salt and pepper then seared in butter which helps to lock in the juices. Onions and garlic are then added and fried till translucent. To add a

thick consistency to it, a cup of flour does the job. Next, add ripe tomatoes (about two) strictly crushed by hand! To give it that much needed distinct flavour, a cup of sherry does the trick. Salt and pepper to taste and voila! Frango a Portuguesa is served. Pair it with rice, french fries or what they call batata frita (roasted potato wedges) and enjoy. TANZANIA Makange ya kuku Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania or Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania, is a country in Eastern Africa falling within the African Great Lakes region. Mount Kilimanjaro, which is Africa’s highest mountain, is in north eastern Tanzania. Chicken makange or makange ya kuku is a semi stewed (or what Kenyans would call wet fry) chicken delicacy that is popular here. The preparation starts by putting together the ingredients for the marinade which are juice from one lemon,

one finger of grated ginger, salt and one teaspoon of chicken masala, mix well and generously with the chicken pieces and refrigerate for an hour. Ensure that you also puree one tomato. Once ready, heat about 20 ml (or two tablespoons) of vegetable oil and fry the chicken pieces until well done. Add chopped onions, green pepper and carrots and fry for about five minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes and fry for another fifteen minutes. For that real Mc Coy signature taste, add some more juice of one lemon and let it simmer for five minutes. Serve with fried banana or rice. The lemons give the dish a really sharp taste, so for many, this is mild. Should you wish to add some extra kick, chilli is a great addition which then augments the lemon flavours.



ALL THAT DAWA Jeannette Musembi of Bars Kenya revisits a classic Kenyan cocktail. Dawa, which means potion or medicine, has earned its place amongst the top Kenyan cocktails to try. She keeps us in the loop on where to get the best Dawa cocktails in Nairobi. When it comes to classic cocktails, nothing beats the Dawa. This timeless cocktail has earned the top position among Kenya’s most revered cocktails- and why not? Even after decades of being in existence, nothing can beat its unaltered recipe of goodness. And even though it is believed that the Brazilians were first to introduce this cocktail in Kenyaone thing remains true- we pride ourselves to be the original home of the Dawa. However easy it seems throwing in some lime, honey and vodka to make a Dawa- a lot of technique is required to bring this simple cocktail recipe to life. And I can think of no better place to have a delicious Dawa than these places.

Carnivore Restaurant Carnivore was one of the first establishments in Nairobi to introduce the Dawa. And ever since, they have maintained the status quo as the founders of the famous cocktail. It should then be no surprise that this is one of the best places to enjoy it. Also, the technique of how they make it? Fantastic. They prepare it for you at your table as opposed to mixing it at the bar. Lobby Lounge I recently experienced one of the most delicious Dawa cocktails at the little-known Lobby Lounge. Located at the newly built Swiss Lenana Mount Hotel in Kilimani, Tom, the resident mixologist introduced his

own version of the Dawa after one of his clients requested it off the cocktail menu. The result? It’s one of the most requested drink at the bar! His version adds a delightful twist to this classic cocktail. By infusing the ginger in hot water and using it in the cocktail. it now becomes Hot Dawa. Nyama Mama If you’ve tasted any of the ingenious cocktails at the Nyama Mama restaurant, then you should know that the Dawa is an easy breeze for them. Their cocktail menu features not only their signature selections but classic ones such as the Dawa. You’re in for a treat when it comes to their presentation which is in a classic metal mug.

RECIPE Ingredients 50 ml of Vodka (We used Smirnoff Red) 1 Tbsp honey 1 Tbsp brown sugar 1 lime, quartered then cut into chunks, plus lime wheel garnish Crushed ice Method 1. Into a rocks glass place lime chunks, honey and sugar. 2. Muddle just enough to release the lime juice and mix with the honey and sugar, but not so much as to mash the pith (that will release a bitter flavour). 3. Add some crushed ice, then the vodka and stir to combine ingredients and bring up the lime from the bottom of the glass. Add more ice until the glass is full, then garnish with a lime wheel. 4. Serve and enjoy.



CABIN FEVER It’s his day off. With his signature glass of whiskey in hand, Jackson Biko discovers an incredible TV show amidst a political wave in the country. Wake up at 6am because the body controls sleep. Go to the loo and read seated on bowl. Go back to bed 15-minutes later, read some more. At 8am, make a bowl of granola and yoghurt and honey and eat it from the kitchen counter. Check out social media on what the “social media world” is saying about local politics. Brush teeth and curl on the sofa and watch Game of Thrones. For the next few hours watch someone get beheaded and watch a child get pushed from a top a tower because he saw a sister shag a brother, laugh at a dwarf’s witticism and bearded men snarl, chug wine and swing massive swords. Such envy. Take a break only to make tea with lemon. Order for lunch. Go back to the land of savages and get lost in more savagery. Send a whatsapp to a friend and say, “Why didn’t you ever tell me about this show? Men

had slaves, I love it!” Just as you are beginning to feel guilty of loving the level of unbridled decadence and hedonism get startled by a knock on the door. Walk to the door in your pyjamas as the phone rings somewhere in the house and open to the delivery guy who has no change. If you had a sword you would have fetched it and held it against his left cheek and growled, “How dare you darken my door without change? Do you take gold as payment? Speak, you peasant on a strange machine…. what is that?” and he says, “A motorbike.” You say, “where is your horse or do you not own a horse you strange beast?” Instead you Mpesa him. Your brother and a host of other peasants are still talking politics on whatsapp; 407 unread messages. The whole world is talking politics because it’s election time but you

don’t care, you are part of the seven kingdoms and you own a horse and you have a brunette sex slave who sips from the cup of your manhood. You are even growing a beard but you can’t shave because everything is closed; barber, cafes, restaurants and your local bar. Talking of which, at 3pm just after the king has been gored by a pig, a pig for chrissake, you pour yourself a double of Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban and throw in one ice cube in the glass and hold it against your chest as the king, now on his deathbed speaks his last words. Later a chap called Robb Stark says, “Joffrey puts my father in chains, now he wants his ass kissed?” You shout at the TV, “Don’t kiss that wrinkled ass, Robb, your lips are only meant to kiss the hand of gods!” At some point, after they have hacked the head off the hand of the king off his body and put his head on

a spike, you are so upset and charged with rage and vengeance that you switch to the local station and see one Principal declare the elections a sham, he speaks of hacking and algorithms. You pour more drinks and stand outside at the balcony. In the evening, a girl with long legs knock your door and you open it with a sloppy and somewhat drunken smile and ask, “Do you love dwarves?” She pushes you out of the way and ask, “Still watching that stupid show?” and you say, “careful woman or I will make you rue this day.” She rolls her eyes and says she wants to watch something else. You change channels and pour two drinks; one whisky and the other wine. You raise your glass in a toast and with an intense stare tell her, “this is in honour of the sacrifices made by my father.”

45. 45.




We all agree that Hawaii is one of those places that should be on your bucket list. Not just to experience their pristine beaches and exotic dancers, but their food. Kalua Pork, which is an island favourite is a must try. The nine hour flight between Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and Honolulu was a mix of excitement and anxiety. We all have a bucket list that we come up with in January and hopefully, we’d like to tick off every item after 12 months. By end of April, I couldn’t believe I was on my way to Honolulu, thanks to my partner who decided that the trip was long overdue. When we arrived at Daniel Inouye International Airport, a few kilometers from the main Honolulu city, fatigue from my sleep deficit had now piled up because my body clock was still pinging Nairobi time which is about 11 hours ahead. I had only spent a week in Atlanta. Our drive from the airport saw us weave through the beautiful Ko’ Olau mountains on our way to Kaneohe, where our host had prepared a feast fit for royalty. Typical of Hawaiian


culture, the aloha welcome is felt everywhere, from the cool and laid way of life to the food which by many standards, is very rich. Different elements lay before in the form of a welcome brunch and barbeque. Foods like long rice, poi (a starchy gravy) masalada (which is the island’s equivalent to Kenyan mandazi but coated with fine sugar), pulled chicken, cold island cocktails and a variety of fruit and vegetable salads were laid on the table. A quick peek at the backyard is what piqued my curiosity. The clear blue sky above the Kaneohe neighbourhood in Oahu, North East of Honolulu, is a stark reminder of the onset of summer. Our host, together with six of his friends, was preparing kalua pork in the traditional Hawaiian way, which is a favourite in this part of the world. This

is no ordinary barbeque as a hole will be dug into the ground because that’s where it will take place. Traditionally, a fire using sandalwood (Sandalwood is a protected species in Kenya) is built in a pit called the imu. An imu, which is usually about 5 ft long, 3 ft deep and 4ft wide is dug into the ground making it an underground oven. Medium sized stones are then placed in the pit to retain heat even after the fire has died. Once the stones have become extremely hot, the hole is lined with banana leaves. Meanwhile, the whole pig is salted, stuffed with more hot stones, and then carefully wrapped with banana leaves. To maintain even heating and to retain the meat’s natural moisture, the meat is covered with wet hessian cloth (a woven fabric that resembles sack cloth), then with a layer of soil (mostly sand). The meat

is then left to cook in the imu for six to seven hours, slowly absorbing smoke and steam from the wood and banana leaves. When the meat is fully cooked, it is removed from the imu and shredded. The result is a smoky flavoured serving of pork meat which is tender and seasoned to perfection. Seeing as not everyone is able to dig a hole in their backyard, there are different ways one can make this pork dish. Get your pork shoulder butt cut from your recommended butcher. Clean it as required, rub it with sea salt, 2 Tbsp liquid smoke* and wrap it with banana leaves or foil. Slow cook it in the oven until tender. *Liquid smoke is available from Cookswell Jikos ( and Gilanis Butchery.

Yummy Vol 34: Proudly Kenyan  

Celebrate all things Kenyan in our Proudly Kenyan Edition of Yummy.

Yummy Vol 34: Proudly Kenyan  

Celebrate all things Kenyan in our Proudly Kenyan Edition of Yummy.