Kenyan food has a diverse international history. The Portuguese rule, the Indian workers, the Arab traders and the British colonial rule have contributed to this distinctive food. Thus, Kenyan food involves a heady concoction of spice, curries, maize, bananas, pineapples, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers along with the local produce.
For Kenyans, a key objective of food is to fill one up as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Nevertheless, the food is tasty as well as filling. The local dishes are Irio (a mashed potato, spinach and bean dish, is often used to accompany a vegetable stew such as githeri), Githeri (Boiled maize and beans or peas, cooked with tomatoes and onions), Ugali with sukuma wiki (a communal dish in which lumps of dough are used to scoop up the stewed greens), Matoke (Boiled and mashed plantains), Mukimo (Mashed potatoes mixed with green corn, green peas and pumpkin leaves), Kachumbari (spicy relish of chopped tomatoes, onions, cabbage, chillies, cucumber, coriander and lime juice), Nyama Choma (marinated, spicy, barbecued chunks of meat, may be served with piquant kachumbari relish), Mchuzi wa kamba (prawn curry with a rich tomato and coconut milk sauce served with rice and fried plantain) and Wali wa nazi (Swahili dish of rice cooked with coconut milk until creamy).
Most people in Kenya are non-vegetarians, and local meals often include red meat, chicken or fish. Kenyan beef, chicken, lamb and pork are all of good quality. The Maasai enjoy boiled goat soup, with the meat eaten separately afterwards while the Kikuyu prefer stewed, boiled or roasted beef and mutton, served with vegetable dishes. Coastal dishes such as prawn or fish curry with coconut rice are a hot favorite. Freshwater tilapia in inland areas, while the Lake victoria areas feast on the Nile perch.
Kenyan cooking also makes excellent use of the country’s huge range of fresh vegetables and tropical fruits. Cassava, maize, yams and plantains are important starch providers. Barbecued roasted corn cobs, hunks of cassava, sugar cane, oranges, mangoes and passion fruits are also very popular.
Most Kenyans love a bottle of Tusker beer along with their meals. Such is the popularity of this drink that it is available almost everywhere. In terms of local produce, there is Kenya Cane, a sugarcane liquor that is pretty similar to white rum. Kenya cane is one of the cheapest forms of alcohol available in the country and contains 40% alcohol content in it. One of the famous cocktails made from Kenya Cane is the ‘Crocodile Walk’ that consists of Kenya Cane (60 ml), Grenadine syrup, lemon wedges and salt. Kenya Gold, a coffee liqueur is also pretty famous. A popular and appetizing local cocktail is dawa, a mixture of Smirn off vodka, honey, lime and ice. Apart from these local varieties which are cheap, the larger hotels and bars stocks all international brands. The South African wines are also easily available in the cities and are very decently priced.
Kenyan coffee is pretty good. Java House at Nairobi serves great freshly ground coffee. But, at other places, only the filter coffee variety is used. Both black tea and milk tea are available in the cities, though in the countryside, only chai (sugary milk tea) is available. Most of the places will serve very good fresh juices, especially passion fruit, pineapple and mango, though the choice of drinks will vary with season. Tap water is considered unsafe across Kenya. Hence, everyone boils the water before consuming. For those who want to be totally safe, mineral water bottles are available at fairly high prices.