Swahili in Kenya

Eating Out

Pizza on a white plate

Kenyan cuisine derives significantly from India, and, currently, the most popular dish is pilau, a spicy rice dish sometimes eaten with a stew made from beef, chicken, or vegetables. Roasted meats such as beef and goat are very popular, and holidays are often celebrated with plenty of roasted meat and beer. The main staple of Kenyan cuisine is a hardened porridge made of white corn flour and water called ugali which, like rice, is also eaten with vegetables, fresh or sour milk, and meat. A variety of vegetables such as kale, cabbage, and spinach are eaten with the stew. Seafood is regarded as a luxury and is not commonly eaten. However, it is gaining popularity in the lake areas, coastlines, and around big rivers. When fish is served, it is typically fried. Desserts are not considered highly important and consist mainly of fresh fruits. Ice cream is available, although it is considered a luxury. Favorite beverages consist of coffee, tea, milk, beer and soda. One must always drink bottled or boiled water.

A typical breakfast in Kenya consists of bread and tea. Especially in urban areas one might also have butter, margarine, or jelly on the bread. Some would also have eggs, bacon or sausage. Lunch tends to be a light meal eaten between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. Many working Kenyans purchase their lunches of traditional fare from kiosks where food is prepared daily and sold over the counter at a reasonable cost. Dinner is the main meal of the day and takes place between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.

At higher scale restaurants, many meat-based Kenyan dishes (which can include the meat of crocodiles, zebras and ostrich) are available. At the medium-scale restaurants, one can order more western favorites, such as burgers, pizza, and “chips” (in America called “fries”) as well as Kenyan cuisine. For more upscale restaurants, it is best to call ahead to see if reservations are required. These restaurants often have adjoining nightclubs for after the meal. When looking for international food, one will find Italian, Indian, Chinese and Japanese restaurants in both Nairobi and Mombasa.

At snack time, tea tends to be more popular than coffee and can be ordered with cakes, rolls, and sandwiches. Throughout the cities, kiosks, similar to tiny convenience stores, sell sodas, sweets, candy, soap and other small household items. In general, street vendors sell only sweets, soda and snacks.

The video shows a pizzeria. Pizza is sold either by piece or whole. It can be served with anything else including tea, coffee or a cold drink. Pizza, however, is not eaten by majority of the people in Kenya. It is mainly for the middle and upper classes and some college students.