K is for Kenya

We’re almost at the halfway point of the alphabet and I’ve decided to go to Kenya since we haven’t had a chance to explore Africa yet this year. I’ve never been to Kenya, although it is definitely on my bucket list. I was able to find quite a few books about Kenya in the library, including some great children’t fiction. We brought home Mama Panya’s Pancakes and Handa’s Surprise, both lovely, well illustrated books that feature children’s village life.

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We also looked at some videos of dances from the Maasai tribe. We learned a bit about the meanings of the traditional beadwork worn by the Maasai and tried our hand at some beading of our own. We enjoyed the sounds of the Kenyan Boys Choir in the background for the evening.

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For our Kenya dinner, I kept it simple. For the main dish I made nyama choma, which simply translates as “roasted meat”. Some sources said that the most traditional way to make it is with only salt and pepper, but other recipes called for a marinade with Indian influences; tumeric, and curry powder along with garlic, lemon juice and paprika. I went with this since it seemed to be the more interesting choice. Beef is the most common meat, but others are also used, so I made steak for my husband and chicken for myself since I prefer it. For side dishes I made irio, which is mashed potatoes with peas and corn mixed in, and kachumbari, a cross between a salad and a relish made with diced tomatoes, onions, cucumber and avocado with lime juice. This dish is commonly served with nyama choma in restaurants specializing in roasted meat.

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For beverages I was able to find Tusker beer in the local store. I’m pretty sure it’s the only beer in the world named for the animal that killed the brewery founder. It is brewed in Kenya with barley grown on the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. My husbands verdict was that it tasted “African”. Whatever that means, he didn’t leave any behind.

The verdict? Well, Kenya was a surprise hit! My daughter loves steak, but I thought she might not like the marinade. She ended up having a second helping, while my very picky son ate three helpings of the irio. If only I’d known that the secret to getting him to eat his veggies was to mix them with potatoes! They didn’t eat much of the salad, but other than that they cleaned their plates. My husband and I liked the marinade on both the steak and the chicken, but we didn’t get to eat as much as usual because the kids ate so much more than they usually do.

For dessert I made a kind of doughnut called mandazi. In Kenya this wouldn’t usually be served as a dessert, but rather as a snack with tea or even for breakfast. It’s very simple and only slightly sweet. I cut them into triangles, rolled them in sugar and served them warm and the kids practically inhaled them. I was a little slow in taking the picture and they were already half gone by the time I got the camera out!

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So that was Kenya. It was a lot of fun to visit Africa and I was surprised at how many resources were available and how much the family liked the food. I’m hoping we’ll get another chance to visit Africa again soon.

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