Our final Kenyan recipe had a lot of promise. A homemade spice blend and a solid ingredient list made for an exciting cooking journey. The recipe can be found here.
Kuku Kienyeji translates to “free range chicken.” Unfortunately my chicken was a Hannaford special 😅, but nonetheless this recipe calls for a whole chicken that you cut into sections for cooking. This more natural chicken traditionally takes longer to prepare thus the boiling is the first step of the cooking process. In some preparation I found people would use other parts of the chicken including gizzards and liver. I did not partake with that!
At the time I had questioned some of the preparation and was sad to see the chicken cook down to the point it fell off the bone. For anyone using store bought whole chicken I think browning the chicken on all sides at a higher heat and cooking over half way through before adding it to the vegetable mixture could give that aesthetic the blog has. Other sources this meal was definitely had more of a stew appearance. It is a lengthy cooking process with a homemade seasoning which if you don’t have a spice grinder could seriously add on time.
To round out our Kenya food tour we were unfortunately underwhelmed once again! The clove was too powerful and made it less appetizing. We found the mix of veggies and chicken was nice and it was spicy without being “too spicy” of course minus the clove.. Also the chicken cooked so long it fell off the bone making the presentation a let down compared the the reference. This one ranked lower at 5/10. It probably is just cook error🙃
Switching gears, we will next visit Norfolk Island!
I have a vegetarian and vegan option for you fellow foodies out there! Today’s meal consists of a bean dish (maharagwe) and a side of collard greens (sukuma wiki).
Maharagwe is a creamy bean stew that is found along the Eastern coast of Africa. Maharagwe means beans in Swahili and often refers to kidney-like beans that have a molted/speckled appearance. Coconut milk, spices, tomatoes, and diced peppers and onions are also found in the dish. You can find the recipe I referenced here.
As for the sukuma wiki (recipe), it is a simple side that is often found in African cooking due to the few ingredients which can be found locally and its versatility. With it being fewer ingredients it certainly doesn’t break the bank to make! The affordability of the meal is actually in the name- sukuma wiki meaning “stretch the week” in Swahili. There are variations on the dish but at its core is collard greens, oil, salt, tomatoes, and onions.
I opted for flatbread once again, but to keep it traditional you can take a swing at ugali. The entire meal was simple to make especially with the use of several canned ingredients it cut down the prep time. This was a nice option for the work week and also very affordable!
This hearty bean meal was well complimented by the cream coconut sauce. The bed of collard greens paired well. The flat bread was the perfect vessel to scoop everything up. Overall the flavor was found to be underwhelming so we rated this meal 6/10 average. Oh well!
Pilau is a festive and celebratory dish of Eastern Africa. Prepared with either beef or chicken, the dish has tons of seasoning. This rice dish is unlike its’ sister Indian pilau since it lacks curry powder making it less spicy.
The origins of pilau are rooted in Swahili culture. There is debate on weather pilau originated in the Middle East or Africa. However, with further research Indians/Middle Easterners likely brought this dish to Africa and it was then adapted by the locals with what ingredients were more readily available.
This stew-like meal was easy to follow along. I think I should have cooked the liquids down more to dry out the rice as it was intended. The aroma of the spices roasting in the skillet was very enticing.
We thought this meal had an awesome spice profile with cardamom being the stand out. There was a little more moisture (sorry to anyone who hates the word) than anticipated, but at least the meat was tender! 😅 We rated this Kenyan meal 8.5/10
A flavorful rice dish with beef and hearty vegetables. Recipe included for pilau masala spice blend
Combine whole ingredients if using and place in pan on low heat. Allow to roast until fragrant.
Place all ingredients in a grinder and combine. You will likely have leftover seasoning- you may save this in an airtight container.
Heat a stock pot on medium-high heat. Add oil and allow to heat. Add onions and fry making sure to brown, but not burn them. This can take 10-15 minutes
Add in pepper, ginger, and garlic allowing to cook until fragrant. Then add beef, spice blend, beef stock cubes (if using), cilantro, bay, and salt. Mix well and cook until beef caramelizes. Make sure to stir often, cook 8-10 minutes.
Add in tomatoes and cook until their liquid has been released, about 4-5 minutes.
Stir in potatoes and water (or broth) bringing mixture to a boil. Stir in rice and cover reducing heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Kenya, an African country known for its incredible wildlife -a safari hot spot. Nestled beside Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Indian Ocean, this country is chalk-a-block full with national parks and wildlife reserves. The country is also well known for the world’s fastest runners, the great wildebeest migration, and Kitenge culture.
Kenya is a big exporter of tea and coffee. Interestingly it is thought that Kenya has no “national dish.” Due to the 40+ native tribes there are several special dishes that are thought to represent these diverse communities. Common staples of the Kenyan diet consist of grain (maize, sorghum, and millet), rice, greens, grilled meats, fish (in coastal regions), and local vegetables. Stews are a very common meal to have on a regular basis along with ugali (maize polenta).
Today I made a traditional Kenyan curry with steak, it can also be made with chicken or goat. Similar to Kenyan stews, tomatoes, onions, and garlic are core ingredients.
I opted out of the the more authentic pairing of ugali because I have had unsuccessful attempts at making polenta/porridge that tasted good and naan bread is 👌Curries and stews traditional pair with ugali which is key to soaking up alllll the goodness! Cooking was a breeze, the slow cooking of the curry allows the flavors the develop.
Our first Kenyan meal was a power house dish full of pleasant spice and refreshing cilantro. The flat bread paired well with the dish and absorbed the curry which had a tomato dominant flavor. And if it couldn’t get better the meat was also very tender, perfect! We rated this one 9.5/10 🔥
Kenyan Beef Curry
This is comfort in a bowl with just the right about of spice!
1-2fresh chilis/hot pepperssliced for garnish (I used jalapeno)
1/2cilantro bunchroughly chopped
Add the 4 cups of water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Mix in the beef, garlic, and ginger allowing to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove pot from heat and drain liquid, reserve broth for later. Set beef aside as well. Add the pot back to the stove and add cooking oil changing temp to medium heat. Add in the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add canned tomatoes to onions and cook for another 3-5 minutes until the tomatoes soften. Mix the beef back into the pot along with the remaining spices and tomato paste. Combine ingredients well.
Add the broth back into the pot and add any additional water needed to cover the beef completely. Bring mix to boil then turn down to a simmer for 1 hour. Make sure to stir frequently.
Once the beef is cooked through you can do your final taste test adding any additional seasoning you find necessary. Garnish with peppers and cilantro. Serve with rice, ugali, or naan bread.