Easy Kenyan recipes and desserts you can make at home

Most Kenya food recipes are simple and only require a short time to prepare. The recipes use basic food ingredients you can buy from your local grocery store, fresh food market or supermarket.

We have included a few of Kenya's most popular ethnic recipes for dishes that will truly give you a taste of ethnic Kenyan cooking as you learn about some of the foods than Kenyans eat at home. Some of these Kenya food recipes use exotic Kenyan and Indian spices that will delight your taste buds. Enjoy your cooking!

Recipe for Ugali

Ingredients (4 servings)
4 cups water
4 cups maize meal or corn meal flour

Bring water to a boil in a pan. Add the corn or maize meal and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thick and smooth. Make sure it is not too stiff. Add boiling water if it is too thick. Gather the mixture in the middle of the pan and turn the heat to low. Cover the pan and leave it on low heat for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally. Flip the ugali onto a plate and, after it cools a bit, form it into a "cake". Slice and serve with chicken, beef, fish or meat stew and a cooked vegetable dish or even sour milk (buttermilk).

Kenya Chapati Recipe - Round Flat Bread

Ingredients (6 servings)
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tbsp oil or ghee
3/4 - 1 cup of warm water
Salt to taste

Mix the flour in a bowl and add salt and oil. You can mix with clean hands, or use a mixer or food processor. Add a little bit of water at a time and knead well for about 10 minutes until you have a stiff and smooth dough. Cover the dough and let it stand for at least 30 minutes up to two hours. Knead the dough well again and divide it into egg-sized balls. Dust each ball with extra flour. Flatten each ball and roll out thinly into sizeable circles.

Heat an ungreased, heavy skillet or griddle over a medium flame. Lightly grease the pan and slowly heat the first chapati. Cook on one side for about 1 minute or until lightly brown, then flip and brown the other side. Press the sides of the chapati with a spoon until it puffs. Remove the chapati from the skillet into a warm dish or foil paper and wrap it to keep it warm. Repeat this process for every chapati, wiping the pan with greased paper every time a new chapati is to be cooked.

Serve the chapatis warm with a meat stew and/or cooked vegetables. Chapatis can also be served with hot milk or chai.

Nyama Choma (Roast Meat)

Ingredients (3-4 servings)
3 lbs beef, short ribs or spare ribs
Salt and pepper to taste

Season the meat with salt and pepper. Grill on a gas or charcoal grill over medium heat 30 minutes. You can also roast the meat in an oven at 300°F for 1¼ hours. Meat should be golden brown, tender and juicy when ready. Nyama choma goes well with ugali and kachumbari or cooked greens.

Roast Leg of Goat (or Lamb)

Ingredients (8-10 servings)
5 lbs leg of goat or lamb
5 garlic cloves
½ cup soy sauce
2 tbs corn oil
1tsp dried rosemary
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper

Score the goat or lamb and insert the garlic cloves into the meat. Mix the remaining ingredients and rub the meat thoroughly with this marinade. Let it stand covered for several hours. In an oven heated to 375°F, roast, roast the meat for 2½ hours. Brush it often with marinade. You may also roast or barbecue the meat on a grill but remember to brush it often with the marinade.

Kachumbari Salad Recipe

Ingredients (6 servings)
4 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 medium onions, finely chopped, washed with salted water, and drained
½ cup fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice
1 cup finely chopped cilantro, Dhania or parsley
3 grated carrots

Arrange the tomatoes on a serving platter with onions on top. Sprinkle the parsley (or cilantro) over the top. Place the grated carrots to one side. Splash the lemon juice over all. Do not toss. Serve cold with nyamachoma or pilau.

Githeri (Dry Maize & Beans) Recipe

Ingredients (4 servings)
½ pound dried red beans
1 pound dried maize (corn)
3 medium onions, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Cover the red beans and maize with water and soak overnight. Drain. Cover again with water, add salt to taste and boil for 2½ hours or until the maize and beans are soft. Drain and set aside. Fry the onions in the vegetable oil until golden brown. Mix in the maize and beans and simmer for 5 minutes before serving.

Mataha (Dry Maize or corn, Beans & Potatoes)

Ingredients (4-6 servings)
½ pound dried red beans
1 pound dried maize (corn)
8 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
10 pumpkin leaves(or spinach), coarsely chopped

Soak the beans and maize overnight in enough water to cover. Drain, cover again with water, add salt and boil for 2½ hours. Drain and set aside. Cover the potatoes with water and boil until soft. Add the pumpkin leaves and cook until tender. Drain. Add the mixture to the maize and beans and mash it all together. The mixture should be thick and firm.

Irio (Maize & Peas Mash) Recipe

Ingredients (6 servings)
4 green maize cobs (green corn)
4 medium sized potatoes
2 cups fresh green peas
2 bunches pumpkin leaves (or spinach)

Remove the maize from the cobs and boil with peas until soft. Peel potatoes, wash them and add them to the grain mixture. Add the pumpkin leaves and boil together until potatoes are cooked. Drain, add salt and mash.

*For a tastier variation, sauté one medium sized onion in vegetable oil (or butter), add a teaspoon of curry powder and mix it into the mash, stirring well until it is a smooth, soft mixture. Serve with beef or chicken stew.

Sukuma Wiki Recipe

Ingredients (2 servings
8 cups sukuma wiki (kale or collard greens), chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tomato, chopped
½ cup water

In a cooking pan, add the vegetable oil and onions. Sautee the onions until they are golden brown. Add tomatoes and cook until they soften into a paste. Add the sukuma wiki, salt to taste and ¼cup water. Let the mixture cook on low heat for approximately 5 minutes or until the sukuma wiki has reached a desired tenderness, and still crunchy. Serve with ugali, rice or chapati and any meat of your choice.

Kenyan Cabbage Recipe

Ingredients (4 servings)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small green cabbage, chopped

Fry the tomatoes and onions in the oil until the onions are brown. Add the cabbage and stir over low heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes. The cabbage should be a bit crisp when served. Serve with rice, ugali and a meat of your choice.

*You can substitute the cabbage with sukuma wiki or spinach

Chicken Curry Recipe - Kenyan style

Ingredients (4-6 servings)
4 lbs chicken, skinned and cut into pieces
3 cups water
Ground white pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
Pinch garam masala
Pinch ground coriander
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
4 garlic cloves, crushed

Rub salt, pepper, and garlic into the chicken pieces and roast them in the oven at 350°F until golden brown. Cook the onions in the oil over high heat until crisp. Remove the onions and mash them. Add the tomatoes, spices and water. Cook until thick. Add the chicken pieces, garlic, and the mashed onions. Simmer all until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve with rice.

Kenya Beef Stew Recipe

Ingredients (4-6 servings)
1 lbs beef, cubed
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 medium onions, chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup water
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dhania (cilantro)

Brown the onions in the oil. Add the meat and garlic and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let them cook until they form a thick sauce. Add the water, dhania and salt to taste. Mix well. Cook on low heat until the meat is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with rice, chapati or ugali.

Wali (Coconut Rice) Recipe

Ingredients (6 servings)
2 cups rice
pinch salt
4 cups thin coconut milk
2 tablespoons thick coconut milk

Put the rice, salt and 4 cups of thin coconut milk in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer very gently until the rice is done, about 20 minutes. Watch the pot carefully and add more thin coconut milk if the rice becomes dry before it is done. Just before serving, add thick coconut milk and stir. Serve with beef or chicken stew and vegetables of your choice.

Kenya Rice Pilau (Rice Pilaf) Recipe

Ingredients (6 servings)
1 pound goat, mutton or beef cubes
4 garlic cloves
9 cardamom pods
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cups rice
10 whole black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
8 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ cup cumin seed powder
4 small tomatoes
6 cups water

Boil the meat in salted water until tender. Crush the garlic and cardamom together with 2tbsp water using a mortar and pestle. Sautee the onion until it is golden brown. Add the rice, meat, garlic and cardamom mixture, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and cumin seed powder. Cook covered over medium heat until all are nicely brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Cook and stir until the tomatoes are thoroughly cooked down to the consistency of a sauce. Add the 6 cups water to the rice mixture, bring to a boil and then cook over very low heat, (while covered) for another 15-20 minutes, until all water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. Serve with kachumbari.

Uji (Fermented Porridge) Recipe

½ cup maize meal or corn meal flour
¼ cup millet flour
¼ cup sorghum flour
Sugar to taste

Put all of the flour into a plastic container and mix well. Pour enough water into the mixture to make a paste. Mix well, cover and leave the mixture at room temperature for 2 days so it can ferment. Skim out the froth that has formed on top of the water, stir the mixture and pour it into a cooking pan. Cook at medium to high heat, stirring continuously until it thickens. You can add more water as needed until the uji cooks into a smooth, runny consistency. Add sugar to taste.

*You can skip the fermentation process by buying ready-to-cook fermented uji flour available from Kenyan grocery stores and supermarkets.

Kenya Chai Recipe

1 cup water
1½ tsp tea leaves (or 1 tea bag)
1 cup milk
2 to 4 teaspoons sugar

Heat the water and tea leaves together in a 3 to 4 quart saucepan, until it boils. Stir in the milk and sugar and cook until the boiling point of the milk. Remove and strain the Chai into a tea jug or kettle. Serve with bread, mandazi or chapati.

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