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10 Top Food to Try in Kenya

Discover the vibrant and diverse culinary scene of Kenya with its mouthwatering array of traditional dishes. From hearty stews to succulent grilled meats and unique street food, Kenya offers a tantalizing culinary adventure. Indulge in iconic dishes like Nyama Choma (grilled meat), Ugali, Sukuma Wiki, and Chapati, showcasing the rich flavors of this East African nation.

10 Top Food to Try in Kenya

10 Must-Try Dishes of Kenyan Cuisine: A Delectable Journey through Kenya's Food Scene

When envisioning Kenya, the mind conjures images of lions roaming the Serengeti, majestic hippos in Lake Naivasha, and the awe-inspiring wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara. Undoubtedly, Kenya is a premier safari destination. 

However, to truly immerse yourself in the country's vibrant culture, tantalize your taste buds with its exquisite cuisine. From succulent grilled meats to luscious coconut chicken curry, here are 10 must-try dishes that will enrich your culinary adventure in Kenya.

1. Ugali: Kenya's Staple Cornmeal Dish

Kenyan cuisine is rich in diverse flavors and textures, with each dish telling a unique story. One such iconic dish is ugali, a starchy and spongy side dish that is considered the staple of Kenyan cuisine.

Description of Ugali

Ugali is primarily made from white or yellow cornmeal, which is combined with salt and hot water. This simple yet satisfying dish is a common accompaniment to almost every meal in Kenya.

Serving Style

Traditionally, ugali is served on a platter placed in the center of the table, allowing everyone to enjoy it together. The best way to eat ugali is by tearing off a piece, rolling it into a ball, and hollowing out the middle with your finger, creating a makeshift spoon.

Versatile Complement

Ugali is an excellent complement to various dishes, such as stews, soups, and grilled meat or fish. Its unique texture and neutral taste make it the perfect companion for soaking up flavorful sauces and gravies.


Ugali embodies the essence of Kenyan cuisine, representing its simplicity, versatility, and communal dining culture. If you have the opportunity to indulge in Kenyan cuisine, don't miss out on trying this delightful staple dish.

2. Irio: A Wholesome Mix of Mashed Peas, Potatoes, and Corn

Irio, also known as mukimo, is a popular dish originating from the Kikuyu people of Central Kenya. This nutritious and flavorful dish is a delightful upgrade to traditional mashed potatoes. Typically made with a combination of mashed potatoes, corn, peas, and greens, irio offers a unique culinary experience.


To prepare irio, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Potatoes (mashed)
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Greens (such as spinach or kale)

Serving Suggestions:

Irio is commonly served as a side dish alongside stews, barbecued meats, or fish. The combination of flavors and textures complements these main dishes perfectly. However, you can also enjoy irio on its own, served in a bowl with a spoon.


Irio, or mukimo, is a beloved dish originating from the Kikuyu people of Central Kenya. With its nutritious mix of mashed potatoes, corn, peas, and greens, it offers a delightful twist on traditional mashed potatoes. Whether enjoyed as a side dish or on its own, irio is sure to satisfy your taste buds and introduce you to the flavors of Kenyan cuisine.

3. Githeri: Hearty Stew with Beans and Maize


Githeri is a delightful dish that finds its roots in the culinary traditions of the Kikuyu people. This comforting one-pot stew has gained popularity in various parts of Africa. However, the Kenyan version stands out with its unique combination of flavors and ingredients.


To create the authentic Kenyan Githeri, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Red beans
  • Potatoes
  • Onion
  • Meat (optional)
  • Corn
  • Tomato
  • Beef gravy
  • Curry powder
  • Paprika
  • Chilli


Githeri can be enjoyed in various ways:

  • As an appetizer to warm up your taste buds.
  • As a main meal, accompanied by chapati or rice for a satisfying and filling experience.

Githeri brings together the essence of Kenyan cuisine with its wholesome combination of ingredients and aromatic spices. It has become a beloved dish, appreciated for its rich flavors and comforting nature. Try this traditional Kenyan delicacy to embark on a delightful culinary adventure.

4. Matoke: Savory Plantain Delight

Matoke is a popular dish in East Africa, especially in Kenya. This rich stew is made by simmering green bananas with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices until the bananas become tender and create a thick sauce. Matoke is usually served with rice, ugali, or chapati and complements roasted meat dishes very well.

Here are some quick facts about Matoke:

  • It's a hearty and filling meal that's perfect for any occasion.
  • The stew's flavors come from a blend of spices and herbs, which can vary depending on the region and cook's preference.
  • Matoke is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish.
  • It's easy to make and can be prepared in large batches to serve a crowd.

If you're ever in East Africa, be sure to try Matoke at one of the local restaurants. You won't be disappointed!

5. Nyama Choma: Grilled Meat Extravaganza

Nyama Choma

Nyama choma, meaning 'grilled meat' in Swahili, holds a special place in Kenyan cuisine as the country's unofficial national dish. Its tantalizing flavors and aromatic essence make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Preparation and Varieties

The primary meat used for nyama choma is goat, renowned for its succulent taste. However, other meats such as beef, chicken, and fish are also commonly enjoyed. The key to achieving the perfect nyama choma lies in the slow-cooking process over hot coals, ensuring the meat becomes tender and infused with smoky goodness.


To complement the rich flavors of nyama choma, it is traditionally served with a delightful array of side dishes. These often include fragrant rice, flaky chapati (a type of flatbread), and a tangy relish known as kachumbari. Kachumbari consists of a vibrant mix of red onions, tomatoes, coriander, chili, and lime juice, adding a zesty touch to the meal.

Ubiquitous Delight

Nyama choma can be found across Kenya, from upscale restaurants to humble street food stalls. Its irresistible aroma permeates the air, instantly whetting the appetite of passersby. Whether you choose to indulge in a fine dining experience or savor this beloved dish from a street vendor, nyama choma promises a mouthwatering culinary adventure.

Experience the Savory Bliss of Nyama Choma

6. Nyama: Savor the Deliciousness of Kenyan Meat

Nyama, or Kenyan stewed beef, is a mouthwatering dish that offers a unique flavor experience with every bite. Whether you try it at a family gathering or in a local restaurant, each variation will leave you pleasantly surprised. So, be sure to indulge in this culinary delight multiple times during your trip.

Ingredients and Preparation

The foundation of Nyama consists of tender braised beef, combined with a medley of onions, tomatoes, and carrots. However, don't be surprised to find an assortment of other vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and plantains, as each chef adds their personal touch to the dish. These ingredients create a harmonious blend of flavors.

Seasoning and Cooking Process

To elevate the taste, Nyama is seasoned with a delightful array of spices that infuse the meat and vegetables. Once prepared, the stew is left to simmer on the stove, allowing the flavors to meld together and the sauce to thicken. The slow cooking process enhances the richness of the dish, resulting in a truly satisfying culinary experience.

Serving Suggestion

To savor Nyama to the fullest, it is recommended to enjoy it with a side of freshly made chapatis. These soft, unleavened flatbreads are perfect for soaking up the flavorful sauce, enhancing the overall dining experience. The combination of tender beef, aromatic vegetables, and scrumptious chapatis creates a delightful balance of textures and tastes.

In conclusion, Nyama is a Kenyan specialty that promises a distinct and memorable culinary adventure. Don't miss the opportunity to taste this delectable stew prepared in various styles by different families and restaurants. Indulge in the rich flavors, enjoy the blend of spices, and savor every bite accompanied by warm chapatis.

7. Mutura: Flavorful Kenyan Sausage Delicacy


Mutura is one of the most popular Kenyan snacks, known for its unique flavors and preparation style. Reminiscent of Irish black pudding or Spanish morcilla, this delicacy is made from animal intestines, typically sourced from goats, cows, or lambs. The preparation involves stuffing the intestines with a mixture of meat, onions, herbs, spices, and animal blood. The filled intestines are then rolled into a spiral shape resembling a sausage and grilled over hot coals, imparting a distinct smoky flavor.

Characteristics of Mutura:

  1. Made from animal intestines, usually goat, cow, or lamb.
  2. Stuffed with a mixture of meat, onions, herbs, spices, and animal blood.
  3. Rolled into a spiral shape resembling a sausage.
  4. Grilled over hot coals to infuse a smoky flavor.

Mutura's taste is an acquired one, appealing to those who enjoy the rich, salty, and fatty flavors of meat. If you appreciate such flavors, you might find yourself enjoying this Kenyan delicacy. To complement the robust taste of Mutura, many people savor it with a cold beer, creating a satisfying combination that tantalizes the taste buds.

8. Sukuma Wiki: Nourishing Collard Greens

If you love your greens, you'll be hooked on sukuma wiki. This earthy, fragrant side dish is a must-try for all the green enthusiasts out there. Packed with flavor and brimming with health benefits, sukuma wiki is a fantastic addition to any meal.


To create this delectable dish, you'll need the following ingredients:

  • Leafy greens
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Spices (such as turmeric, cayenne pepper, and paprika)


Sukuma wiki pairs wonderfully with other popular Kenyan dishes, such as nyama choma (grilled meat) and ugali (a staple maize meal). The combination of flavors and textures is a true delight for your taste buds.


Embrace the goodness of sukuma wiki, a healthy and delicious green side dish. With its earthy aroma and vibrant flavors, it's a perfect accompaniment to your favorite Kenyan meals. Don't miss out on this wonderful culinary experience!

9. Kuku Paka: Creamy Coconut Chicken Curry

Kuku Paka

Kuku paka is the Kenyan take on a chicken curry. It’s a popular dish along the East African coast and represents Kenya's culinary fusion with Indian flavors. This creamy bowl of goodness is a result of charcoal-roasted chicken simmered in a pot of coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and a blend of aromatic spices.


To prepare kuku paka, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Charcoal-roasted chicken
  • Coconut milk
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Assorted spices


Serve kuku paka hot with steamed rice or freshly made chapatis. The creamy texture of the coconut milk combined with the spiced flavors will tantalize your taste buds and transport you to the vibrant culinary crossroads of Kenya and India.

Enjoy the delightful fusion of flavors in this Kenyan-Indian dish!

10. Mandazi: Sweet Fried Dough Delights

Mandazi, the beloved sweet treat of Kenya, holds a special place in the hearts of locals and visitors alike. Resembling a doughnut, this delicacy is infused with the delightful flavors of coconut and fragrant cardamom. Its unique shape, reminiscent of a samosa, adds an element of intrigue to its appeal. Whether enjoyed for breakfast with a steaming cup of tea or coffee or grabbed as a quick sugary snack, mandazi is a must-try culinary delight in Kenya.

Features of Mandazi:

  • Fragrant and Flavorsome: Infused with the aromatic essence of cardamom, each bite of mandazi tantalizes the taste buds with its exquisite flavors.

  • Coconut Bliss: The addition of coconut to the dough lends a subtle sweetness and a hint of tropical indulgence.

  • Samosa-Inspired Shape: Unlike traditional doughnuts, mandazi is deep-fried in the shape of a samosa, making it a visually enticing treat.

Ways to Enjoy Mandazi:

  1. Breakfast Bliss: Embrace the local culture by starting your day with a mandazi or two alongside a piping hot cup of tea or coffee. Experience the perfect balance of flavors and kick-start your morning with a touch of sweetness.

  2. On-the-Go Snack: Need a quick pick-me-up? Grab a mandazi as a sugary snack while exploring the vibrant streets of Kenya. Its portable size makes it an ideal companion for your adventures.


Mandazi, with its infusion of coconut and fragrant cardamom, presents a delightful twist to the traditional doughnut. Kenya's love for this sweet treat is evident, and it has become an integral part of the local culinary experience. Whether enjoyed as a breakfast delicacy or as a grab-and-go snack, mandazi is sure to satisfy your cravings and leave you with a memorable taste of Kenya.




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