Vegetarian food in Kenya

Being a vegetarian in Kenya is not hard at all. You will find veggie food in most places serving local food – unless you visit the small stalls which only have the course of the day (usually meat stew with ugali). If you´re in one of the big cities or in a typical tourist area, you will also find a lot of international restaurants serving all types of food. However – you should try the local food! Here is my favorite vegetarian food in Kenya.

Ugali
Ugali is a thick porridge made from corn meal, and is the staple food in Kenya. It is relatively inexpensive, and it is served with a vegetable stew or a meat stew.

The ugali is served as a big lump, and you use your right hand to pinch of a pieace, then roll it in your hand and scoop stew or whatever is served with it onto this lump and into your mouth. When you eat with families or with several other people at a restaurant, the ugali may be served in one big lump to all of you. Then remember to use your right hand when you take your share!

Ugali na sukuma wiki
This is a very usual dish in Kenya. “Sukuma wiki” means “to stretch the week”, which means that this relatively cheap food is used to stretch meals to last through the week due to lack of money. Sukuma wiki is made from kale or spinach (leafy greens) which is fried with tomates and onions and salt. It is very tasty, and one of my favorites in Kenya. It may also be served with fried eggs to boost the proteins.

Ugali with cabbage
You will often find some stews of sliced cabbage, often with onions and tomatoes, sometimes also with carrot. This is also a good option with ugali.

Vegetable stew
You may find vegetables stews served, it may contain all kind of vegetables. It may be served with ugali or with rice, which you will also find in most restaurants.

Ndengu
My all time favorite, which I alos make a lot at home in Norway! Ndengu is a bean stew made from mung beans. I tasted mung beans for the first time in Kenya, and now I use it all the time. I have found different recipes for it, the common thing is that they always contain mung beans, onions, tomatoes and salt. Some also add garlic and curry powder. My favorite recipe adds more tomatoes than the regular one – which gives it a more appealing color.

Chapati
a round, flat unleavened bread cooked on a griddle to a soft brown color. Wherever you are – you will find a restaurant or stall selling chapatis. It is very handy for long bus trips. You can also buy it with eggs (the fried eggs are rolled into the chapatti), or you can buy the boiled eggs on the street with some salt and roll it in yourself.

Githeri
This is simple a mix of cooked corn and kidney beans. You can order it with ugali or with rice.

Mandazi
This is a deep fried  semisweet, flat bread – similar to donuts. It is often served for breakfast, or with coffee or tea.

Fresh fruit
You will find food markets with a great selection of fruits and vegetables everywhere. In the cities, you will also meet fruit sellers which peel and slice the fruit for you.

Not suitable for vegetarians:
“Nyama choma”
is a great meal for most Kenyans. This is roasted or grilled meat, often heaps of it, so if you´re invited along –  this is the time to tell that you do not eat any meat!

If you`re going to Kenya or Eastern Africa you may also like my small guide to Swahili phrases for vegetarian travellers.

Do you have a question about eating vegetarian on the road? I would be happy to help – get in touch with your questions.

About the Author Elin

I´m an Oslo based web publisher with passion for communication, travel and a green lifestyle. When I travel, I prefer to go slow, sustainable, and “live like a local”. Why slow? It is about challenging the cult of speed, and to enjoy the small things in life and to live in the present.

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