Kim’s Kenyan Cooking Lessons

Kim Davis is currently an operations fellow in Kenya and Uganda.  Check back for regular updates on what’s happening in the field and what life is like as a fellow.  Join Kim in her chronicles through Africa with Village Enterprise as we create sustainable businesses, change lives, positively impact communities, and have some fun along the way!

The POWER In No Power: My first few weeks in Kenya have been fantastic.  I’ve been slowly adjusting to my new home and the quirks that come along with it.  Most recently I have been adjusting to no power. Let’s just say I will never complain about a random power shortage at home during a storm ever again.  On the bright side, it has led to lots of laughter and some new experiences.  My roommates and I cooked dinner and ate by candlelight (how romantic) many times, and my headlamp has become my newest fashion statement as a necklace so that I am always prepared.  It has been quite eye opening to see how good my Kenyan colleagues are at conserving energy.  Most work with only natural light and sit near windows, but for some, they read and work in semi-darkness all the time. The Kenyans definitely appreciate electricity here in a way that makes me realize that it is greatly taken for granted in the United States.

view out of a house into a garden

Kenyan Culinary Delights: As my close friends and family know, trying new foods is one of my favorite things.  So, it will be of no surprise to them that I am loving all of my meals here! The local cooking style is leveraged on staples such as rice, cornmeal, greens, beans, and lentils.  Meat is sometimes used, but most families here eat 1-2 meals per day and meat only once a week. Everything is delicious and here are some of my favorite ingredients & preparations.

Ugandan YamsSukuma wiki Bhajia

Local Yams – We got these from the local market and my Ugandan roommate cooked them for me.  They are white with purple coloring and have a smooth buttery flavor. They are so good!

Green Grams (Lentils) – made on the stovetop (as is everything) and cooked with tomatoes, red onions and curry powder.

Sukuma wiki (a local kale) – cooked with, oil (we use Sunflower oil here), tomatoes, and red onions.  Delicious and nutritious!

Beans – soaked overnight and cooked with oil, tomatoes and red onions (you may notice a trend here) and a local seasoning, Royco mchuzi mix (which I think actually goes into almost everything we eat)

Ugali/Posho – made from corn meal and water. The style we’ve been having is called Kenyan Ugali and is thicker (more meal less water); whereas if more water was used and it was made a bit softer (less firm), it would be considered Ugandan Posho.  By itself, Ugali tastes a little bland, but mixed with the beans or lentils, it’s quite tasty.  The same corn meal can be used to make porridge just by mixing it with a lot more water, plus milk and sugar. Yum!

Kim and Florence making Ugali/Posho

Pilau – beef made with rice, onions, tomatoes and a special Pilau masala seasoning.

Bhajia– potatoes dipped in some kind of special spiced flour and then fried. I tried these delicious bites at a local restaurant.

Cabbage salad – We have cabbage salad with almost every meal, and usually it consists of cabbage, tomatoes, and red onions, and at times, carrots. My Ugandan roommate was not at all impressed with my cabbage chopping abilities, as they prefer it thinly sliced and my technique resulted in thick slices.  I have since been banned from making the salad.

RolexRolex – eggs mixed with onion, tomato and cabbage rolled up into a chapatti, which is like a tortilla.  My roommate actually went out this morning to pick up the chapatti and made this for us. I had heard about Rolexes since I arrived, but today was the first time I had eaten one! It was really good, and really filling!

In exchange for eating and learning how to prepare local cuisine, I have also made American classics like pasta for my Ugandan roommate. It’s fun to be cooking and learning about new foods, but also to be having these amazing cultural experiences.


Kim Davis

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