Foodie time in Nairobi area

A big part of our travels is to explore the new flavours and dishes. We will share these experiences with you along the way.

We had our first street food experience our second day in Kenya when we asked to stop at 'mamas' (a local woman, who sells cooked food by the road) in Hardy, Nairobi. 'Mama' pilled the plates with enormous amounts of rice and potatoes, over which she poured two scoops of a variety of meaty broths. As in every Kenyan meal so far, there was also some dark green chopped kale to get our 1 out of five a day. She handed us our plates and directed us into a small shipping container where we stuffed ourselves with a plate costing just over a dollar.

Then we head off to find John (our Kikuyu cab driver for a day), who was sitting at a fruit stall with a big bowl of freshly cut fruit. As soon as we saw it, we knew that this will be our desert. Young lady gave us plastic stools so we could sit, and went to make us the best fruit salad we have had in years. The flavours of fruits were mind blowing, completely different than in Europe. A big bowl full of vibrant colors of watermelon, papaya, avocado, pineapple and banana that cost us less than two dollars was almost more filling than the earlier starch filled meal. It was my first ever papaya that day, and since that fruit bowl we eat papaya almost every single day. Yuuuum!

'Mamas' place in local market in Hardy, Nairobi (vicinity of Giraffe centre)

'Mamas' place in local market in Hardy, Nairobi (vicinity of Giraffe centre)

Few days later on Langata Rd, very close to Galeria shopping mall, we saw another 'mamas' place that we had to try it. The view of the Galeria with the middle class doing some shopping and queuing outside KFC, whilst few hundred meters away a small family is struggling to earn money with a simple fries stall. The family is super nice and 'mama' gave us to try Mandazi (Kenyan doughnut) for free. They laughed and smiled as white people seem not to be their usual customer profile. We ordered a portion of fries that was cooked by the dad in front of us, and served by 'mama'. She packed it in a black plastic bag, poured a ton of chili sauce and sealed it with a toothpick. We walked down the road and tried the fries, turned around to give thumbs up, which made them clapping and laughing as we approved their food. It was delicious with chili sauce not to spicy and fries still boiling hot and slightly crispy at the ends. Doughnut was not too sweet, unlike our usual western doughnuts, so it also satisfied Tan (who does not really have a sweet tooth). We almost became regulars at this family stall, as we always stop by when coming from our fruit shopping. For about half a dollar per portion, there is no guilty moments of craving some good homemade fries.

Our fries family 'mamas' on Langata Road, Nairobi

Our fries family 'mamas' on Langata Road, Nairobi

So all these cheap and tasty 'mamas' experiences made us want to do a 'food day' in Nairobi city centre. Little did we know, that this will be almost mission impossible.

On one of our Nairobi city centre trips, we went to the all famous Beneve coffee house, where we ordered Matumbo (fried beef) with Ugali (some sort of white maize polenta), and beef stew with Chapati (bread that resembles a very oily crepes) and of course chopped kale. It had familiar taste to some of the foods at home. Although there is a few good places to get this type of local food, such as beef stews, whole fish and some other goodies, we were looking for something new. This proved to be very difficult as the city centre is flooded with fast food (which surprisingly takes longer to get - approx. 30min for portion of wings). We managed to try some pastry pies filled with chicken chilli and one with goat meat, which were nice but not really a 'mamas' place. So we gave up, and decided to try Ethiopian cuisine as they are neighbors. We found ourselves in west part of Nairobi in the place called The Smart Village and the food was amazing. We tried mixed wot and it was definitely worth 9 dollars to feed both of us. 

But we still think that street food rocks!

Mixed wot

Mixed wot