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Food in Kenya

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What do people eat in Kenya?

Food in any country is influenced by its past. Period of occupation and colonialism will always bring new dishes imported to keep the recent immigrant arrivals happy, and Kenya is no exception. When the Portuguese arrived in the late 15th century, they introduced food like sweet potatoes, cassava and chillies they had found in Brazil. Later, when the occupying British heavily imported Indians for work on the railways, with them came curries, chapattis (and Indian flat bread that is kind of a combination of a Middle Eastern pita and a Mexican tortilla) and chutneys. Kenyan cuisine welcomes all these ingredients and the resulting dishes are spectacular.

With Kenya being a large country and its climate not making it particularly kind for food transportation, it’s not surprising that you will find beautiful fresh fish on the coast while the central and highland areas rely more heavily on beef which tends to be cheaper than either chicken or pork. Root vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes are common, and while you can get lettuces and tomatoes, it is advised you wash all salad ingredients in bottled water before consumption.

Kenya fishermen

In general, Kenyans enjoy a bit of spice to their food. While Nyama Choma (roast meat usually cooked over a barbeque) seems to be the national dish from its popularity, vegetarian food is not difficult to find. It will usually come in the form of a very hearty soup or stew heavily laden with spices. Githeri, a dish that combines corn and beans, is a great high protein vegetarian option. Sukuma Wiki is thick vegetable dish made with chopped greens and tomatoes but its ingredients can vary depending on whatever is to hand so it is best to ask first if the dish contains meat before assuming it will always be vegetarian.

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Filed under: Africa, Food, Kenya

About the Author:

Cindy is an ex-pat American who lives in the UK with her charming English husband, overly clever toddler and pudgy cat. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, crocheting, creative writing and might even one day pick up a few miscellaneous hobbies that don’t start with the letter C. When not in the kitchen or at the computer you can probably find her dressed in velvet, wandering castles and dreaming of days gone by. Visit her blog at Medieval Moods, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter. has written 12 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.