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Kenya Africa's Treasure -Multi-cultural Cuisine

Updated on March 21, 2021
Pamela99 profile image

I love beautiful scenery and the changes of the season offer us some scenes of beauty and I love to travel. Learn from travel experience.

Lake Victoria with Eagle's Catch Photo Courtesy Kenya Game Reserve
Lake Victoria with Eagle's Catch Photo Courtesy Kenya Game Reserve

Kenya Facts of the Country

The English word Kenya means “God’s resting place” because of the fact that Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Africa and the shared beliefs that the mountain is a sacred, and a holy place. Mount Kenya is an extinct volcano.

The Republic of Kenya Lies along the Indian Ocean at the equator. It encoumpanies 580,000 km². It is bordered by Ethiopia at the north and Somalia to the northeast, Tanzania to the south and Uganda and Lake Victoria to the west.

Sudan lies to the northwest. Kenya has several wildlife reserves containing thousands of animal species. The capital city is Nairobi. Their population is nearly 38 million and very diverse with 40 different cultures represented. The cultures represent Native Africans, Afro-Arabs, Afro-Asians and Afro-Europeans.

Geographic Areas

In Kenya you will find four distinct geographical features with the Great Rift Valley, which runs 5000 kilometers from Jordan to north of Mozambique in the south.

It is surrounded by a ring of eight lakes, some are fresh water and some alkaline, but the bird population is stunning. This is an area of rich land of dense forests and agricultural land.

Great Rift Valley,com
Great Rift Valley,com

History of Kenya

The principal cash crops are coffee and tea, but the country also grows fruit, vegetables and flowers or the supermarkets for Europe. Another area, which is one third of the country, is arid and semi-arid with very little rain and that is where nomads live. Along the Indian Ocean you will find beautiful silver sandy beaches. A coral reef runs along the entire length of the coast line which protects the country from storms and shark.

The Portuguese arrived in Kenya in 1496, and introduced foods from Brazil such as pineapple, chilies, peppers, sweet potatoes, and cassava, which became local staples. They also brought oranges, lemons and limes from China and India, plus pigs.

Flamingos on Lake Nakuru
Flamingos on Lake Nakuru
Herding Cattle source flickr
Herding Cattle source flickr

Cattle Herding and European Additions

Cattle herding also has a long history in Kenya, which provides meat, milk, butter and blood. The cattle are primarily in Western Kenya, and drought has affected their herds in recent years.

When the Europeans arrived they brought white potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes. The British also imported thousands of Indians for labor, which introduced curries (spicy dishes made with curry spice); chapattis (flat, disk-shaped bread made of wheat flour, water, and salt) and chutneys (a relish made of spices, herbs, and/or fruit) became a traditional Sunday lunch for many Kenyans.

Kenya's Capital City - Nairobi
Kenya's Capital City - Nairobi
Kenyan Women Cooking  source
Kenyan Women Cooking source

Simple Kenyan Meals

Kenya is a multiracial society. The official languages of Kenya are Swahili and English. Before Kenya became an independent nation in the 1960’s, tribes and communities lived and migrated around the entire eastern African region and as a result many recipes are the same for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Traditional Kenyan foods reflect these many different lifestyles and cultures. Most Kenyan meals do not require any special tools with the exception of a coffee grinder, inexpensive to make. The main staples are corn, maize, potatoes, okra and beans. Many of their dishes are different types of stew with or without meat. Peanuts are called groundnuts and feature in many dishes from a garnish to peanut soups

The Massai people
The Massai people
Tribal Dance source samford
Tribal Dance source samford

Kenyan Tribes and Their Meals

The Massai, cattle herding people eat simple foods, relying on animal’s (cow and goat) meat and milk. They don’t eat wild game. The Kikuyu and Gikuyu grow corn, beans, potatoes and greens. They mash all of these vegetables together to make into balls and dip them into meat or vegetable stews.

In western Kenya, the people living near Lake Victoria mainly prepare fish, stews, vegetable dishes and rice. Fish is often marinated in tomatoes, ginger and cayenne pepper.

Jamhuri 12 Day Celebration

A very important day for Kenyan people is represented by Jamhuri Day, which celebrates Kenya's independence from Great Britain on the 12th of December, 1963, and the establishment of its republic on the 12th of December, 1964.

Kenyans families express their freedom and gratitude through feasting, dance, parades as a symbol of their unity through this 12 day celebration. Some of the appetizers they serve are: samosas, kale, corn and tomato stew.

Appetizer Combination source savuer
Appetizer Combination source savuer

Kenya Safari Holidays Creates Tourism

KenyanZebra Photo Courtesy of Kenya Travel ideas
KenyanZebra Photo Courtesy of Kenya Travel ideas


This is a Kihuyu made form corn and potatoes, which may have some other greens in season. It is boiled and mashed into a paste which is served with grilled meat.


  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 cups red kidney beans
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups spinach
  • Salt and pepper


Place the potatoes into a pot, cover with water, and boil until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, combine the corn, beans, and spinach and cook over low to medium heat until vegetables are soft.

Add the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and mash the mixture with a fork or wooden spoon.

Ugali and Cabbage Photo Courtesy of flickr
Ugali and Cabbage Photo Courtesy of flickr

Western Kenya Cabbage and Egg


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt, to taste


In a saucepan, boil the water and add the cabbage. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Drain cabbage, season with salt, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and tomatoes. Cook over medium heat until soft.

Add the salted cabbage to the frying pan and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs.

Stir the eggs into the frying pan with the vegetable mixture and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the eggs are thoroughly cooked.

Serve with rice, ugali, or potatoes.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Ugali is one of the most common foods in Kenyan cuisine to accompany meats and stews.

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 2 cups maize meal, cornmeal or semolina
  • 4 cups of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In large saucepan boil the water.

Sprinkle maize meal into boiling water, stirring.

Cook porridge for 20 minutes until it is very thick and smooth.


Easy Pork and Cabbage Egg Rolls



  • Corn, cut fresh off the cob or frozen -- 3 to 4 ears, or 2 cups
  • Cooked beans, any type -- 2 cups
  • Water -- to cover
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste


Add the corn and beans to a large pot with enough water just to cover.

Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Reduce heat to low and simmer until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.


In Kenya, dried corn and beans are used. The beans and corn are put in a pot with water and simmered for several hours until softened.

Muthokoi: substitute hominy for the corn.

Mukimo: Cook the beans and corn with some chopped potatoes and chopped greens. Mash together well and season with salt and pepper.

Use any kind of beans: pinto beans, kidney beans, cowpeas (black-eyed peas), green peas, groundnuts, pigeon peas.

To give the dish more flavor and texture, add some chopped greens, sautéed onions, cubed potatoes or cassava, stew meat or a little curry powder.


Chapatis are normally used to accompany stews and vegetables


  • 1 Cup white flour
  • 1 Cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • Water to make the dough
  • 1 Tablespoon softened butter or ghee


Sift flours and salt together in bowl.

Add oil and enough cold water to make stiff dough.

Knead for 5-8 minutes until satiny and elastic.

Cover with a damp cloth and let it stand 2-3 hours.

Knead again and divide into balls, about 3-4 cm in diameter.

Roll into flat pancakes with oil, butter or ghee.

Place chapati in pan and cook until it begins to puff up.

Press with a spatula to assist the puffing process. This ensures light and fluffy chapatis.

Turn over and repeat the process.

Remove from the pan and place in foil or cloth, spreading butter on top of each chapati.

Serve immediately.

Kenyan Chicken Curry Recipe

Note: The chickpeas need to be pre-cooked or canned ones may be used.


  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds (the black kind, if possible)
  • 8 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, crushed
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced and crushed
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. whole coriander, crushed
  • 2 chili peppers or 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cloves
  • 4 oz. tomato paste
  • 1/2 lb. green beans
  • 1/2 of a small cauliflower
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 lb. fresh green peas, shelled, or 1 small package of frozen green peas
  • 1 bunch of fresh leafy greens (kale, spinach, collards, etc.), or 1 small package of frozen greens
  • 1/2 cup dry chickpeas, cooked (optional)


Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large, heavy skillet or pot, brown the onions in moderately hot oil along with the cumin seeds and mustard seeds.

Add the potato pieces (peeling is optional), and stir to coat each piece with the spices.

Now add the remaining spices and continue to stir for several minutes.

Thin the tomato paste with about 2/3 cup of water. Stir into the pot.

Add vegetables, one at a time, cooking for a minute or so between each addition, and put in the cooked chickpeas last.

If your pot is not oven proof, transfer mixture to one that is.

Cover with a lid or seal with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, checking after the first 20 minutes.

The consistency should be rather thick, but add liquid if necessary to prevent burning.

Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Serve over rice or with Indian bread.

Yield: 6 servings.

Kenyan Meal
Kenyan Meal
Kenyan African Sunset source westfordk
Kenyan African Sunset source westfordk

To Summarize

Kenya is a very interesting country, and it is multicultural with numerous tribes with 3 different languages spoken in the country. The terrain meets every extreme with huge dense forest and great farmland. Agriculture is their main economic income. Tourism is lucrative as everything I read about taking an African safari was very positive.

There are too many poor, and it would appear that many go hungry or certainly don't have nourishing food year round. They are a relatively new nation since they did not become a republic until 1964. The people are proud of their freedom, and this is their largest celebration. They are very family oriented and everyone works. I read several articles that spoke of their pride in our American president being half Kenyan.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    afeykanqwin, I am glad to bring you some pictures of your home. Kenya looks like a beautiful country. Thank you for your comments.

  • afrykanqwin profile image


    9 years ago from knoxville,tn

    i miss home!!!!!!!!!!!....great hub...mmmmh the chapati makes me hungry

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Jennifer, I think a safari would be fascinating. Thanks for your comments.

    Mombasa Resorts, Thank you for your comments.

  • profile image

    Mombasa Resorts 

    10 years ago

    Excellent information and nice photos shared on this hub. Thanks a lot for sharing the information about Kenyan people.

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    I would go to Kenya for the animals. I really want to go on a trip to a Safari. One of the things on my bucket list.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Support Med, I thought the flamingos were so beautiful. Thanks for your comments.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 

    10 years ago from Michigan

    It's good to know it's not all poverty laden. The eagle and flamingos are awesome. The presentation in the video expressed it right, there were so many flamingos it looked like a pink line. Voted-up/rated!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Nancy, Thank you for your comments.

  • nancy_30 profile image


    10 years ago from Georgia

    Great hub. It was very informative and the recipes sounded great. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Loves to read, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and I thank you for your commetns. I don't know why the pictures aren't coming up as they are fine on my end. Several of them are really beautiful so I wish I could help.

  • Loves To Read profile image

    Loves To Read 

    10 years ago

    Wonderful and informative hub Pamela and very well researched. i love to try food from different cultures and some of these dishes look delicious. They do have a tendency toward Indian cusine which i love

    The Safari video was breathtaking. Great hub.

    For some reason i can't view all the pics.


  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Prasetio, It is always nice to hear from you and I sure appnreciate the comments.

  • prasetio30 profile image


    10 years ago from malang-indonesia

    I believe Kenya is a beautiful country. We can find various culture over there. Thanks, Pamela for share several recipes from Kenya. I believe they all delicious. Thumbs up for you. You always on top, my friend.


  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Roberta, Thank you for your comment.

  • Roberta99 profile image


    10 years ago

    I love beef curry. Interesting hub.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Billy, I thought the country of Kenya sounded so beautiful also. Thanks for your comment.

  • billyaustindillon profile image


    10 years ago

    Pamela another beautiful hub chock full of information about Kenya and some beautiful photos. I must say I have never eaten Kenyan food and you have given plenty of recipes to choose from - thanks.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Casidella, Thank you so much for the comment.

    Money Glitch, I appreciate the compliment and thanks for your comments.

    PaperNotes, I am glad you liked the hub. Thanks for your comment.

    Miata, Thank you so much for your comment.

  • prettydarkhorse profile image


    10 years ago from US

    beautiful hub, I learned a lot and well written, Maita

  • PaperNotes profile image


    10 years ago

    The Chicken Curry recipe sounds tasty, it's very different to the kind of food I am use to. Thanks for the enlightening hub!

  • Money Glitch profile image

    Money Glitch 

    10 years ago from Texas

    Wow Pamela! You really have presented an informative hub here, with loads of culture and cuisine. Great job, and thanks for sharing. :)

  • Cassidella profile image


    10 years ago

    Hello Pamela,

    This is a stunning hub packed with information and what sound like tasty recipes. Nice work!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Audry, I learned a lot from doing the research also. Thanks for your comments.

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 

    10 years ago from Washington

    Great job and how informative! I feel like I got to know Kenya a bit better as well as their cuisine.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Judydainne, Thank you so much for your comments.

  • judydianne profile image


    10 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

    A very thorough and interesting hub. A lot of work! Good job!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Anginwu, I haven't tried them yet but they look good. Thanks for your comment.

    Habee, Thanks so much for your comment.

    Corin, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for your comment.

  • Corin profile image


    10 years ago

    A beautiful and interesting hub. I always wanted to visit Kenya. A least, I will have a taste of this great land.

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 

    10 years ago from Georgia

    Beautiful hub with interesting info!

  • anglnwu profile image


    10 years ago

    Pamela, i know very little about Kenya's food, so this is very informative for me. I do, however, eat chapattis and curry, so I'm glad that I like this much. Thank you for another wonderful hub. Rated it useful!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Jim, I don't know bit I don't thin Obama has anything to do with distant relatives. Thanks for your comment.

    Nellieanna, Thank you for your comment.

  • Nellieanna profile image

    Nellieanna Hay 

    10 years ago from TEXAS

    These dishes look extraordinarily wonderful!! What an introduction to the cuisine of this land!

  • FitnezzJim profile image


    10 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

    Thanks Pam. This was an interesting Hub. I couldn't help but wonder if any of these are asked for or served at the White House.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    10 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Hello, Thank you so much for your comment.

    Teddletonmr, I hope you like it. Thank you for your comment.

    Sheila, I hope you like it also. Thanks for your comment.

    Tom, Thanks for your comment. That should be your new plan, eat first.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 

    10 years ago from Moundsville, WV


    At least I had a good lunch before I read about all this good food!!!!!!!!

    Good hub!!!!!!!!

  • sheila b. profile image

    sheila b. 

    10 years ago

    I, too, plan to make the chicken curry with your recipe. It sounds wonderful.

  • Teddletonmr profile image

    Mike Teddleton 

    10 years ago from Midwest USA

    Kenyan Chicken Curry Recipe, sounds like a great meal I can't wait to try it. Pamela99 thanks for the beautiful hub, hub up.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    10 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for a very interesting and informative hub. This is great.


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