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Typical restaurants and Swahili cuisine: food tourism in Kenya

People attracted by the experience of local gastronomy

07-12-2020 di redazione

In recent years gastronomic tourism has grown considerably all over the world.
This is due to the popularity of certain programmes and also to the media coverage of dishes and restaurants, especially in social networks.
So also in Kenya tourists are discovering "food tourism", which translates into a greater interest in local cuisine, particularly the Swahili cuisine of the coast which has many flavours, recipes and surprises to offer.
In the last two years it is easy to see how on the Kenyan coast there has been a multiplication of events that focus on tastings or culinary proposals.
The "street food" has evolved and even if they are dishes to be eaten on the fly, it is pleasant to see the banquets on the sides of the streets as it happens now in Watamu in the evening along the street in the centre and new local restaurants that open. 
The most striking case in Malindi is undoubtedly the Seafront, a small Swahili restaurant in the Baobab area open for lunch and dinner and full at about all hours. With the technique of fast food, the Seafront (run by Muslims and therefore strictly alcohol-free) offers dishes that are not only tasty but also offer an overview of the cuisine of the Kenyan coast: coconut shrimp with sautéed rice, stewed octopus, Swahili fish and the inevitable chapati, samosa and pilau rice.
Another reason for the success is the average spending in places like this: you can hardly go out with a full belly having spent more than 4 euros. As a drink, you can taste the tamarind juice and at the end of the meal the "black spiced tea", a tea with added fragrant spices.
It is relevant that, especially in this period of almost exclusively local tourism, many international restaurants have decided to include in their menus also typical Kenyan dishes. Or that their chefs experiment with fusion cuisine, combining suggestions from the East with African food and treating the raw material from the Indian Ocean with marinades or combinations that are entirely European. 
The growing interest in places of pleasure such as Dabaso's Crab Shack in Watamu, run by crab breeders where you can taste the only samosas with their fresh pulp, or the more rustic "prawn lake" where the samosas are stuffed with shrimp, is significant. Timboni's Swahili Café has been included in the guide to Street Food in Kenya by a well-known local influencer.
So it is the tourists who come from Nairobi and some rare European adventurers who discover these corners where they can combine the gastronomic experience with the beauty of the least contaminated places possible.
Some of them, especially those not of first hair and delicate stomach, go even further, in the local kiosks and taverns where the national dish, the "Nyama choma" (it is nothing but adult beef almost toasted on the grill) and chicken are the masters, but some sautéed vegetables such as cabbage stew (mijikenda tradition), mchicha and sukumawiki are the masters.
Here, unlike the pro-Islamic trattorias, you can also find beer, which is always a nice combination with certain foods. Needless to say, "Tusker baridi sana" (the very cold local beer) is a pleasure, a relief and an ideal accompaniment. You can also enjoy it in combination with street food that you can find at every corner, especially in Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu: "viazi karai" (potatoes mixed with lemon and pilipili), bajia (vegetable fritters), fried cassava (very good), sesame scones and other delicacies.
For all the others, besides mastercard, there is the good, classic international cuisine of "pizzaland" and surroundings.

 

TAGS: street food kenyacibo kenyaristoranti tipici watamuturismo gastronomico

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