By shellmith Njeri Njagi
Ever heard of “mwitu” from somewhere or somebody and wondered what that means or what kind of animal that is? Well, wonder no more, mwitu is simply just street food in slang that is, food sold by the road side at pocket friendly prices.
I was in down town Nairobi the other day and the hunger pangs hit me so hard, I didn’t have any option other than to settle for the moist, soggy chicken and chips sold at “chips and kuku” outlets in Nairobi, after all, I couldn’t really trust street food coming from downtown Nairobi who knows which water they use to wash their ingredients or the conditions in which they are cooked in.
That is when I really started to appreciate that “mama smokie” whose stand I always pass by on my way home to get my daily dose of smokies and pickle salad, I am a foodie so when the cravings say I want smokie “kachumbari” (pickle salad) that is what I will have there is no compromising.
So, I thought I’d share with you some, if not all of my favorite street foods and how they are prepared. Let’s start with my favorite:
Boiled eggs and pickle salad (kachumbari)
This basically a boiled egg and pickle salad which is tomatoes, red onions, coriander and fresh chili mixed together.you slice the boiled egg down the middle and put in the salad and season with a bit of salt, you can also add ketchup or tomatoes sauce for improved taste. This will cost you ksh20.
Viazi karai is a coastal delicacy usually made from boiling potatoes and later deep frying them after coating them in a mixture of flour that has been mixed in with other spices and seasoning for taste and a bit of salt. These potatoes are mostly served with their own dipping sauce made from “ukwaju” also known as tamarind in English they can also be served with a coconut sauce made from fresh coconuts, chili is also used for those who like it extra spicy. Depending with the amount, it starts from somewhere around ksh30.
Roasted maize AKA mahindi choma
Mahindi choma is simply maize slow roasted on a wire mesh under burning charcoal. I like my roast maize soft so I make sure I ask before they cut it for me. The taste is improved by dipping fresh cut lemon in chili mixed with salt and squeezing it onto the maize. It will cost you anywhere from ksh 5 to enjoy mahindi choma.
Mutura AKA African sausage
African sausage popularly known as mutura is an African delicacy made from stuffing the lining of intestines with meat that is either minced or chunky and later, slow roasting it on a grill to get rid of the excess moisture and cooking it, giving it that crunchy and smoky after taste that is pure bliss inside your mouth. This sausage is served with pickle salad also known as kachumbari and salt and is extra delish! Mutura will cost you from ksh5 and above depending on your stomach’s content.
Choma sausage is basically minced and blended fresh meat mixed with mild seasoning and filled into an edible casing, these sausages are slow roasted on a charcoal grill that makes them crunchy and gives them that smoky after taste that is everything!, these sausages are served by slicing the sausage down the middle and adding kachumbari and ketchup or tomato sauce for taste and a bit of salt, it is heavenly! I tell you. You will have to part with ksh 40 to enjoy your choma sausage.
These are French fries cooked by the road side, somehow these fries tend to taste better than fries cooked at home I don’t know if its because water used to clean potatoes at home is cleaner than water used to clean potatoes on the street or what I have never really understood it remains a mystery to me. So any way, these are simply served by drenching over diluted tomato sauce on them and even that does not in any way tamper with the taste. Chips mwitu will cost you from around ksh 20 and above depending on your pocket.
Samosas waru is Wheat flour that is kneaded with water and salt and shaped into a pocket shell that is later used to stuff the potato filling, which is a mixture of mashed boiled potato, onions, green peas, spices and green chili and closed up using paste made from wheat and water. The pastry is then deep-fried to a golden brown color, in vegetable oil. These samosa are served with kachumbari and tomato sauce and they are yum! For ksh10 you can enjoy this.
This is simply beef or chicken or any other kind of meat that is marinated overnight to acquire that punchy and flavorful taste and later barbequed by stacking pieces onto a long toothpick, you can also incorporate other vegetables from green chilies, onions and tomatoes, after all street food is all about the strong punchy taste. For mish kakis, anywhere around ksh40 is enough to satisfy your meat cravings.
Chapo kebab is basically kebab that is rolled into a chapati (Kenyan flat bread) and stuffed with kachumbari and seasoned with some salt to taste.to enjoy this scrumptious combination you will be required to part with ksh 70 this is enough for a lunch snack, tasty and very pocket friendly.
Boiled maize AKA mutungo
This is self-explanatory, it is simply maize boiled in water until its soft enough or rather until its cooked enough for human consumption, after its boiled simply sprinkling salt to your liking and chow down on that maize cob, this will cost you only ksh20.
So I was thinking to myself how and why people are so willing to pay so much for chicken that is grilled and later deep-fried into a fryer with no kind of seasoning for taste, when I can simply pay so little for great tasty food?
Viazi karai, choma sausage, boiled maize and mish kakis will only cost me ksh 130 and that is more than enough to fill my stomach and satisfy my cravings while chips and a quarter soggy chicken is ksh 230.i think we should appreciate our Kenyan food more and promote that “mama smokie” in your hood.
I will end it there to save myself from drooling any more than I should, but make a point of tasting authentic Kenyan street food it never disappoints.