Take a culinary trip with these coastal favorites
Updated: Aug 18
We hope you enjoyed our last read on how to bring the beach to your home since we can't travel. Today, we're talking about something related, which is coastal dishes.
The Kenyan coast is rich when it comes to language, culture and religion. As such, exploring the coastal culture is literally a history lesson. The rich coastal dishes are part of it. That’s because they are a great mix of the different cultures found around the coast that include that of the Bantus, Indians, Islamic culture, among others that influenced people’s way of life from the 15th century till date.
Coastal food is often loaded with spices and is as a result full of flavor. Since we are currently unable to dine from Swahili restaurants and can’t travel to the coast to have an even better experience trying out famous Swahili foods, how about taking a culinary trip with these coastal favorites at home.
Pilau is one of the most popular if not the most popular Swahili dish you can find. It is a delicacy made of rice to which meat and an array of spices have been added. The spices include black pepper, cumin seeds, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. The traditional method involves using these spices in their authentic form although you can go the modern way by using a ground spice mix that is known as pilau masala. When it comes to the meat, you can choose from beef, goat meat and chicken. You can prepare and savor this famous Swahili delicacy at home especially during these isolation times.
This is another well-known and enjoyed coastal favorite just like pilau that is equally loved by Kenyans, particularly the Swahili. It is in fact cooked in the same style as pilau, except turmeric is added to give it its rich color. The spices are very similar to those in pilau but biryani includes vegetables, potatoes and even boiled eggs in some variations. Biryani actually has its origins in India and the dish requires a great level of patience to prepare owing to the many steps involved in making it what it is. The meat has to be marinated a number of hours prior to its preparation, vegetables are prepared separately and so is the final touch, kachumbari sauce. The meat is marinated with a number of ingredients namely yogurt, fried onions, chopped tomatoes, crushed ginger, chilli and turmeric powder, salt and garlic paste.
3. Mbaazi za Nazi
Another very popular coastal dish is mbaazi za nazi. This delicacy that makes for an amazing breakfast is made from pigeon peas that are cooked in coconut milk. They are often served alongside mahamri and in some rare cases, alongside chapati which is famous throughout the entire country. This meal’s origin is from the trade between Indians and the Kenyan coast.
4. Coconut rice
Coconut rice might look just like your normal rice, however, there is a significant difference when it comes to the taste, as this coastal dish is known to have a very strong flavor. It is a simple yet tasty dish that is prepared with your ordinary rice cooked in both coconut milk and flakes. The rice goes well with either meat or vegetables. It is also very creamy owing to the coconut oil used in its preparation.
Bhajias make for delicious snacks and are very popular fritters often served at the coast. Preparing them is easy. All you need to do is slice potatoes thinly and soak them in batter. This batter consists of flour, garlic, coriander, pepper and other herbs. After soaking the potato slices, you need to deep fry them and serve hot. The coastal people love to serve these with tamarind sauce popularly known as ukwaju, meat or even vegetables. They have a distinct aroma and aside from being the actual meal, can make for great appetizers or street food.
We hope you’ve been able to take a nice culinary trip with these five coastal favourites. Their recipes are so readily available and the best part is, with the right ingredients with you, you can prepare these popular coastal dishes at home. That is regardless of whether you live at the coast or not.
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