Wali is a popular meal in Kenya, and more so along the Kenyan coast where the Swahili and Mijikenda tribes live.
Wali is basically rice that is boiled and cooked in coconut milk, giving it a smooth and creamy texture. Wali can be eaten as a snack in small amounts, or as a full meal in big amounts.
There are palm trees growing all along the Kenyan coast, making fresh coconut readily available. That’s why the tribes living in the coast are more likely to have wali on their dinner tables.
The nyama choma is one of the best known Kenyan specialties – and that’s something significant, as Kenyans are avid meat eaters. Its name literally means roasted meat, but it is more than just that.
The roasting is a special process wherein the meat is slow roasted over sizzling charcoals or an open fire. It is usually served with basic greens known as sukuma wiki (collard greens) and ugali (cornmeal).
There are multiple “choma joints” in every Kenyan city and town. The best known one is probably the aptly named Carnivore, located in Nairobi.
Beef is often the meat used for nyama choma, though chicken and fish can also be used. Aside from being the preference of most Kenyans, beef is also much cheaper than chicken and fish in Kenya.
Ugali is a favorite staple food in Kenya. It is basically a stiff porridge that is composed of maize flour, often served with nyama choma. All you have to do is to mix the flour with water, then boil it until it turns stiff.
Ugali is served in huge bricks that are freshly cooked. From these bricks, pieces are broken off to either be included in meals or as ingredients in cooking other dishes.
Because it is very easy to cook, most families have ugali on their dinner tables.
Kachumbari is a mixture of chopped tomatoes, pepper, onions, parsley, and in some cases, even avocado. Most people would be reminded of salsa or salads ‘a la vinagreta’ when they see this dish.
In Kenya, kachumbari is most often served with nyama choma, as well as with other meat dishes. Kenyans love the taste of kachumbari as it provides a brief reprieve from the oily and powerful taste of meat.
Preparing kachumbari is easy, as all you need to do is to chop the ingredients finely and then mix them together. Seasoning such as salt and pepper can also be added to suit your tastes.
Sukuma wiki is a vegetable dish that is made of leafy vegetables, usually collards and kale.
Most Kenyan meals have sukuma wiki as their main foundation. Why? The literal translation of sukuma wiki is “to stretch the week” – in other words, this food is used to stretch a meal so that it would, ideally, last for the entire week.
Of course, in addition to making a meal more filling with very little expense, sukuma wiki also adds nutrients that Kenyans could easily overlook because of their infatuation with meat.