A charming country in East Africa that sits along the coast of the Indian Ocean is Kenya, a place surrounded by mountain ridges, the savannah, and the Great Rift Valley, giving you ample opportunity to be one with nature. One of the must-visit attractions here, especially for animal lovers, is located in the capital city of Nairobi: Maasai Mara Reserve. Here you’ll see lots of wildlife in their natural habitats, such as elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, and more. It is also known for seeing the annual migration of large herds of grazers, like deer, llamas, cattle, and horses. But apart from nature and the wild, Kenya boasts many delectable dishes that showcase their culture and history. To have a taste of the country on a plate or a stick, make sure to check out our list of the best street food you must try in Kenya as your guide to the country’s vibrant food scene.
1. Mshikaki (grilled kebab)
One of the most popular street food in Kenya, Mshikaki, is also known as a kebab to many other countries. It is a skewer that often consists of meat, including beef, goat, or chicken. The meat is marinated and then grilled on open coal. Sometimes it has a spicy taste and includes vegetables. You can find lots of kebab vendors on Electric Avenue in Nairobi, an area where lots of bars and clubs are located.
2. Grilled maize (grilled corn)
Popular all over South Africa and other countries, grilled maize is corn on a cob that is buttered and grilled, and it has a sweet taste and a crunchy texture. It is also often slathered with lime, chili, and salt. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll surely be delighted with this street food that is not only healthy but also very tasty. The grilled maize is also quite filling, which will give you the energy to stroll and continue on with your tour.
3. Mahamri (deep-fried doughnut)
Mahamri is not just a street snack, but it is also a favorite breakfast staple in Kenya. It is a kind of sweetened donut that is made of sugar, coconut milk, yeast, and cardamon. It has a golden brown color as a result of being deep-fried. The aroma of the doughnut can be smelled from afar, enticing you to taste it. Also, it is best eaten with a hot chai tea, which makes the experience a lot better and brings out the coconut flavor of the dish.
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4. Smokie pasua (smoked sausage)
Smokie pasua is a sausage split into two to make a pocket and then filled with kachumbari (fresh tomato and onion salad) before being topped with chili and tomato sauce. The sausage is already cooked, so the vendor will only need to reheat it for the customers. You will often see these sold alongside boiled eggs in white trolleys around many towns in Kenya. Just a warning, this street food is flavorful and addictive, which will make it hard for you to resist buying another.
5. Mayai gonga (hard-boiled egg with kachumbari)
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Mayai gonga is simply a hard-boiled egg that is sold along with smokie pasua and samosa. The vendor beats it with a spoon to crack the shell and peel the egg - you’ll be amazed by how fast they can do it. It is then sliced into two and either filled with pepper or plain kachumbari. You can also add salt to taste. This street food is filling, ensuring that you’ll have the energy to stroll around town before your next meal.
6. Mutura (Kenyan blood sausage)
The most popular Kenyan street food, mutura, is prepared differently in every town in the country. But to make it simple, it is made of goat or beef tripe, which is then filled with ground meat and raw blood and then boiled in a soup for the blood to cook. This dish is also called blood sausage. If you find it hard to eat knowing there’s blood in it, you can order a plain-meat mutura. After boiling, it is then grilled and sliced into small pieces before serving.
7. Fried cassava
There is an abundance of cassava in Kenya, and the locals grew up eating this starchy tuber. Its texture is quite hard, making it flexible enough to deep fry or roast. Fried cassava is another favorite street food among the locals. It is usually topped with spicy ingredients and drizzled with lemon for that added tangy flavor. If you don’t like it fried, you can also find boiled cassava and sweet potatoes for a very affordable price.
8. Nyama choma (roast meat)
A must-try food list in Kenya should definitely include nyama choma. It is a roasted meat dish which commonly uses goat or beef. The best part of the meat to choose when cooking nyama choma is the fatty part. The street food is eaten by hand with a quick dip of salt for extra flavor. You can also get the fried version of it in many stalls around the street.
9. Viazi karai (fried packed potatoes)
There are lots of snacks made of potato around the world, like french fries, but Kenya has its own take on preparing a potato snack. To prepare the fried potato or viazi karai as the locals call it, it is boiled then coated with a chili-sour batter before being fried. When served, it is topped with coconut chutney and slathered with spicy pili-pili sauce. The sweetness of the coconut and the other spices make this dish mouth-watering and addictive. You’ll surely order another one after finishing your first.
10. Dengu stew (mung bean stew)
Dengu stew is a very healthy street food made up of legumes like mung bean or green gram, which is local to the country. This is a staple meal in their everyday lives. For preparation, you have to boil it along with other vegetables for the added flavor and texture. It is also best eaten with rice, chapati, and meat dishes. Make sure not to miss this street food for a complete food tour of the city.
This is a beautiful country with so much to offer, from nature tours to exotic cuisine and one-of-a-kind activities that you can only experience here. View the Great Wildebeest Migration and enjoy the adventures on offer in Kenya. And for the top must-try street foods in the country, you can refer back to our list and use it as a guide to the country’s food scene.
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