Kenya: Cuisine and Recipes

Country | Kenya | Singing Masai Women Image

Everyone has a picture of Kenya. Broad savannas teeming with wildlife. Masai tending their cattle. Ancient landscapes punctuated by thorny acacia. But not many know the food of this great East African nation. From Mombasa on the east coast to Lake Victoria in the west, Kenya has a nourishing and hearty cuisine just waiting to be discovered.

Image Creative Commons by Borft

Kenyan Recipes


Breads | Chapati Image

(Indian wholewheat flatbread)

Chapati, or chapatti, is a popular bread accompaniment to a northern Indian meal. It is a simple wheat flatbread typically baked on a hot griddle, or tava. Pieces are broken off and wrapped around food before it is popped in the mouth. Read more »


Ingredients | Corn, Dried Image

(Kenyan corn and beans)

Githeri is a simple yet nourishing dish originated with Kikuyu tribe. In modern times it has become popular throughout Kenya. The combination of beans and corn supplies a full complement of protein for the often protein-poor diet of many Kenyans. Read more »


Ingredients | Split Peas Image

(Kenyan mashed peas, potatoes and corn)

Originally a dish of the Kikuyu people, irio is a hearty and nutritious accompaniment to meals that has become popular throughout Kenya. It has many variations, but potatoes and peas are the staple ingredients with corn the most common addition. Irio is famously paired with grilled steak in the combination known as nyama na irio. Read more »

Kuku Paka

Poultry | Kuku Paka

(Kenyan chicken in coconut curry sauce)

This simple dish, sometimes called kuku na nazi, is a fabulous coconut curry from the East African coast. It is a perfect illustration of how African, Arab and Indian influences meld in the coastal region. Read more »


Ingredients | Beans, Black-Eyed Peas Image

(Kenyan black-eyed peas and tomatoes)

In Kenya this eponymous stew is a popular way to cook kunde, Swahili for black-eyed peas. Served over rice, it makes often makes a full meal. Read more »

Mtuzi wa Samaki

Ingredients | Coconut Image

(East African fish in coconut curry)

Mtuzi wa samaki is a tasty fish curry dish that originated on the tiny island of Zanzibar. The use of Indian-style curry is indicative of Zanzibar's history as a crossroads of trade. Over time, mtuzi wa samaki has become popular throughout the coastal region of East Africa. Read more »


(Kenyan mashed beans, corn, potatoes and greens; see Githeri recipe variations)

Nyama Choma

Meats | Nyama Choma

(Kenyan grilled meat)

In Kenya, any gathering is an excuse for eating nyama choma, Swahili for "roast meat." From the finest restaurants to roadside shacks, roast goat meat is served up as a kind of social lubricant, often aided by copious amounts of the local beer. Read more »


Grains | Pulao Image

(Indian aromatic rice pilaf)

Pulaos form a wide variety of spiced rice dishes in India. It is a method of cooking rice that was adopted from the Persians with their rice polows. The style of first sautéing and then boiling rice is also known as the pilaf, or pilav, method. Pulao is also popular in East Africa given past Indian immigration to the area. Read more »

Samaki wa Kukaanga

Fish | Samaki wa Kukaanga Image

(Kenyan spicy fried fish filets)

Samaki wa kukaanga, Swahili for "fried fish," is a simple but popular way to prepare fish in Eastern Africa. It is sometimes sold at roadside stands. Read more »


Appetizers | Samosas Image

(Indian deep-fried potato pastries)

Samosas are the perfect chaat, or Indian snack food. These tetrahedral pastry pockets are made with a variety of stuffings, both vegetarian and with meat. But a simple spiced potato and pea filling is the most popular. Read more »

Sukuma Wiki

Vegetables | Sukuma Wiki Image

(Kenyan greens simmered with tomatoes)

Sukuma wiki, Swahili for "stretch the week," is a ubiquitous Kenyan dish. Nutritious and tasty, it is a way of "stretching" out kitchen resources. Served with ugali and perhaps some roasted meat or fish, sukuma wiki makes a typical Kenyan meal. Read more »


Grains | Ugali Image

(African cornmeal mush)

Known as ugali in Kenya and Tanzania, this starchy, polenta-like side dish goes by different names in sub-Saharan Africa. In Malawi and Zambia it is called nsima or nshima. The South African name for it is pap or mealie pap. Zimbabweans call it sadza. Read more »