Nigerian food culture and restaurants in Kenya
Nigerian food culture and restaurants in Kenya
The influx of Nigerian culture in Kenya is undeniable and it has become a common scenario to encounter a Nigerian national in the streets of Nairobi. Nigerian music has ruled Kenyan airwaves for almost a century now, sparking campaigns from Kenyan musicians like “Play Ke”. This reflects how much Kenyans have developed a taste for Nigerian culture.
Kenyans’ test buds for Nigerian culture don’t stop at music, there is a new wave coming up, Nigerian food! The demand for Nigerian food is so real that a Nigerian lawyer by the name of Hephzibah Osinubi decided to settle in Kenya and start a Nigerian food restaurant. This demand for west African food is growing daily prompting business people to take up the challenge and address this need. To understand why Nigerian food is taking up the Kenyan food industry by storm we need to look at the west African food culture.
THE WEST AFRICAN FOOD CULTURE.
The West African food culture involves a diverse range of foods. This is shaped by the history of the 16 West African countries that play an important role in their food and recipes. West African countries’ interaction with different cultures from the Arab world to Europeans has introduced ingredients that today have become components of national delicacies.
West African foods mainly consist of indigenous plant species and animals as the majority of the population depends on farming and hunting for food. Most of the ingredients used in West African foods such as chili peppers, corn, plantains, and peanuts were brought by the European merchants. The mentioned ingredients were mainly exchanged for West African ingredients like black-eyed peas and Okra. The European colonists may have brought the ingredients, but they had very little impact on the way people cook in West Africa.
As much as there are differences in the local delicacies between West African countries, there are also some similarities. For instance, in West African countries, ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers are considered essential in any cooking. The preferred cooking in palm nut oil contributes to the unique color, flavor, and texture of West African Food. Spices and seasoning are not widely used in West African food culture. Cooks will often use spices such as ginger and coriander in moderation. The holy grail of West African species is Chili peppers. It is believed that the sweating induced by the chili peppers helps cool the body, therefore it goes without saying, the hotter the chili pepper, the better the food. The Sumbala is another celebrity when it comes to West African species and it is used across West Africa.
Common vegetables that you won’t miss in a West African kitchen include black-eyed peas, eggplant, pumpkin and not forgetting okra. The baobab leaves, rosella leaves, sweet potatoes leaves, pumpkin leaves, and cassava leaves are also favorites in West Africa, just make sure to boil them first before eating. This is because, in their natural state, they contain cyanide which is toxic to humans.
The staple food of West Africa is starchy tubers and root vegetables such as cassava, cocoyams, sweet potatoes, plantain, and Yams. These are best served with a plate full of meat or vegetable dishes having some hot peppers. The starchy tubers are often boiled and then pounded to make the famous fufu. Today, West African foods mainly consist of meats and seafood. Seafood is the most common source of protein in West Africa. You will find dried and smoked fish in several sauces, stews, and condiments. The seafood is often fried in oil and sometimes cooked with a sauce containing hot peppers, onions, and tomatoes, with a twist of soumbala to produce an incredible combination of flavors.
The West African food culture is rich with a long history behind it, however, some foods stand out more than others. Let us look at the top 5 Nigerian foods that are winning Kenyans’ hearts and slowly taking up the kitchen shelves.
THE TOP 5 NIGERIAN FOODS.
There are over 50 types of Nigerian foods today, and exploring every one of them would demand another article or two, that is why we have sampled five of the over 50 types of Nigerian foods that are mouth-watering.
- Jollof rice (benachin).
This type of food originally came from Senegal, but it has spread like wildfire in West Africa and now it is a common delicacy in Nigeria, especially among the Wolof ethnic group. The Wolof ethnic group must have had quite a taste for fine food, as Kenyans are quickly becoming fond of it and even try making it in their homes. The basic ingredients are rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onions, salt, and red pepper, all of these are easily available in your local area. You can choose to add a spice or two and serve it with beef, chicken, fried fish, or vegetables. Jollof rice has been regarded as the King of West African foods, have a taste and evaluate if it is true.
This is the Nigerian version of Ugali, but unlike ugali, it is prepared from cassava. Preparation of garri is quite simple, the cassava is harvested, peeled, washed, and ground. The grounded cassava is drained of water, some starch, and hydrocyanic acid before it is sieved and fried in a hot pan, what you get at the end of that process is what is called garri. From garri, you can prepare Eba by simply adding hot water. Eba is best served with Egusi soup, Okro soup, Banga soup, or Afang soup, you are simply spoilt for choice.
- Pounded Yam.
The name explains what it is, a yam that has been pounded. It is very soft; some say softer than Ugali. The pounded yam is often accompanied by ogbono, afang, Egusi, and vegetable soups. Preparing pounded yam is a no brainer, you peel the yam, wash thoroughly and boil till it is tender. The next process is to simply pound the yam, and you get your pounded yam.
- Pepper Soup.
There is no legit Nigerian bar and restaurant without pepper soup. It is a very common delicacy among Nigerians. The pepper soup contains beef, chicken, mutton, or fish. Due to the natural species used to prepare it, it is considered to be very healthy. There is a saying that whenever life shows you pepper, make pepper soup, and don’t stop there, start a pepper soup joint. What you do with that information is entirely up to you.
- Egusi Soup.
Just from this article, you can spot Egusi soup as a companion to many Nigerian foods. The Egusi soup has a unique texture and is soft in your mouth. This is among the qualities that make it a special Nigerian delicacy. The Egusi soup is prepared from processed melon seed using ingredients like stockfish, red oil, meat, stockfish, vegetables, seafood, onions, and other condiments. The soup is served with pounded yam, garri, amala, etc.
Now that you know where Nigerian food comes from and the top delicacies to look out for, it’s time to know where to get your Nigerian food.
TOP 5 NIGERIAN RESTAURANTS IN KENYA.
There are numerous Nigerian restaurants in Kenya, however, we have sieved them to present to you the top five Nigerian restaurants in Kenya where you can get delicious Nigerian foods.
|Le Palanka African Restaurant
|James Gichuru Rd, Nairobi
|Off Peponi Rd, Nairobi
|Muthangari Gardens, Nairobi
|Mummydadas Nigerian Restaurant
|James Gicuru Rd, Nairobi
|Amayi African cuisine
|Kilimani Chaka Rd, Nairobi
In case you are looking to take your taste buds on a particular journey, West Africa is a pretty good place to start. The Nigerian foods available in Kenya will take you to Nigeria without getting on a plane, go get that Nigerian food!