Nairobi, the capital of Kenya with a population of three million, has been dubbed the “Safari Capital of the World” because it is a major hub of Safari tourism.
Nairobi is the only major city in the world to have a wild game reserve literally on its borders, and it’s the starting point to visit famous national parks and game reserves throughout the region.
Nairobi cuisine is a patchwork of regional dishes from the 42 different ethnic populations making up the country. It has also integrated the foods of foreign immigrants who made Kenya their home since British colonial times. One fairly significant influence are cheap popular dishes from India like curry, chapatti bread, and rice pilaf, now considered to be “local” specialties by the natives.
Other influences came through the coastal ports, from traders from Arabia and Persia, who brought in spices, garlic, ginger, and citrus fruits. But for example, the Kikiyutribes from inland are known for eating very plain boiled potatoes and beef.
Where to Go
The City Market,in Muindi Mbingu Street in the centre of town sells fresh produce, flowers, dry goods and food vendors are housed under the roof of an ex-aircraft hangar.
The Village Market is a hybrid of an American theme mall and an open air African village. It was developed in the 90’s based on traditional African market stalls but with waterfalls, bowling alleys and a cinema. Not just for tourists, wealthy locals flock to the market’s food court, which is actually a good beginner’s guide to local specialities.
Classic foods and local specialties include :
Kienyenji: maize and green vegetables mashed together
Ugali: cornmeal porridge
Sambusa: deep fried pastries stuffed with minced meat
Chappati bread and curry
Nyama Chomo barbequed meat
Olepolos, a short trip out of town, is an open air barbeque restaurant run by the Masai located in the rolling hills of their native lands. Here they serve only one style of dish:“Nyama Chomo” a classic that is essentially a Kenyan style bbq. Your view is on herds of free-ranging goatsthat are slaughtered and prepared on site according to traditional Masai methods. Cooking is ultra simple on charcoal/wood grills.
The Carnivore restaurant is a unique experience. Every type of meat imaginable, including four choices of wild game, including crocodile, is roasted on traditional Maasai swords (skewers) over a huge, visually spectacular charcoal pit that dominates the entrance of the restaurant.
The waiters then carry swords around the restaurant, carving unlimited amounts of the prime meats onto sizzling, cast iron plates in front of you. A wide selection of salads, vegetable side dishes, and a variety of exotic sauces accompany the meat feast. The food details are mouth watering.
Nairobi is home to some fantastic Indian restaurants including the Handi and Anghiti at Westlands. For vegetarians there are great vegetarian fajitas, fairly ubiquitous in Nairobi. To the north of the city we visit a tea and a coffee plantation.
Destination – Kenya