The Definitive Food Guide for Mombasa
An island town by the Indian Ocean in Kenya, Mombasa is a never-ending wonder of culture, food, and fun. With travellers and adventurers, even locals coming to the town to enjoy the nightlife, the beach, and the spectacular cuisine, Mombasa is a culture trip. The food is a product of the perfect blend of tradition, and innovation that have birthed a cuisine enjoyed by all. The coastal cuisine that is unique to Mombasa is a phenomenon that can never be forgotten; the aftertaste leaves travellers and tourists pining for more. To better advise food lovers on what to eat when in Mombasa, here is a definitive food guide.
A fried bread dish that is similar to doughnuts but with a distinctively sweet taste, mahamri is a fast snack that can be eaten with dips or with many of Mombasa’s meals. Mahamri is usually sold on the streets with mbaazi za nazi (pigeon peas soaked in coconut extract).
Viazi karanga, which in Swahili means ‘fried potatoes’, is a meal of fried potatoes accompanied with local sauces such as chatini, made from grated coconut and sour additives, or ukwaju, a sauce made with onions, garlic, salt, pepper and water soaked tamarinds. This delicious meal is often called ‘viazi karai’, which means ‘potatoes from the basin’ because it was once sold in basins.
Sweet smelling mabuyu, which translates as ‘baobab seeds’, is made of baobab seeds cooked with food colouring and sugar, to produce its characteristic bright hues and delicious taste. One of the Mombasa’s favourite snacks, mabuyu is a delight whenever one is in the coastal town.
Loosely translated to mean kite shape, this colourful and tasty snack is made from dry grated coconut, sugar and brightly attractive food colourings such as red, orange, and pink.
Made from cornmeal, ugali is most common in Mombasa. It is cooked in boiling liquid to a stiff, heavy or firm dough-like consistency and served with salad, tomato or vegetable sauces.
Amazingly sweet achari is made from mangoes. Those used to make achari are often dried, salted or sweetened, spiced with pepper and sometimes coloured to make it attractive. Achari is one of the best dishes to be sampled in Mombasa.
Despite the fact that Mombasa is a coastal town, locals and travellers are more than happy to pay for the assorted variety of seafood she is known for. With local delicacies such as kambaa (prawns), to kiboma (a saltwater fish) and pweza (octopus), touring Mombasa without an experience of seafood, is incomplete.
Mkate wa Sinia
‘Mkate wa sinia’ means ‘bread of the platter’ in English. It is usually eaten as breakfast in Mombasa. A delicious soft an exotic cake with a silky texture, fondly best served with tea, mkate wa sinia is to be savoured. This delicacy also is called mkate wa kumimina and can be found on the streets of Mombasa, especially in the evenings.
Beautifully baked crunchy dumplings soaked in sugar syrup that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, kaimati is one of the favourites of Mombasa residents. Readily available on the streets of the coastal town, kaimati (also called mitai) is simply mouth-watering.
This Kenyan dish is made of boiled beans, corn kernels and small amounts of vegetables. Highly filling and nutritious, githeri is often eaten with pepper, chillies, salt, and chapatti.
A signature Mombasa delicacy, haluwa is made of starchy flour and a lot of sugar. It is not suitable for people with diabetes due to its high sugar content. However, a taste of the sinful delicacy won’t hurt.
One of the most popular dishes found in Mombasa and Kenya, irio is a meal of mashed green peas, potatoes and whole kernels of corn. The corn kernels are added to give the mashed green peas and potatoes extra texture and starch. Irio is usually eaten with stew or with roasted meat (nyama choma). When eaten with nyama choma, irio is called nyama na irio.
A rice dish made with spices like cinnamon, cloves, cumin and cardamom, pilau is an amazing combination of flavours and aroma. It is often eaten with a stew of meat accompanied with slices of fresh onions and tomatoes.
Called the pride of Kenyan food, nyama choma is Kenya’s specialty roasted meat dish. Often made with goat meat or beef, nyama choma is also made with chicken (kuku choma) and fish (samaki choma). Although, the fried version of this specialty can be bought from shops on the streets of Mombasa, the roasted nyama choma is preferable.
A side salad for many dishes, kachumbari is delicious and nutritious, and is made up of diced tomatoes, cilantro, chili peppers, onions, and avocado. A Mexican transplant dish, kachumbari is popular with the locals.
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