There is something about street food that tells you so much about what to expect about the town. I believe if the food is tasty and exciting then the people and their culture are exciting. If the food is a fusion of different cultures then the town is full of people from different countries. e.g “Street food” in Melbourne is a mixture of Asian, Greek and European street foods, and true to that the city is a melange of all these cultures.
In Lamu street food is very authentic and traditional. Just like it’s people, the street food is authentic swahili snacks full of flavour and character and most items have a story behind them. It was very exciting listening to some of the vendors as they explained the history behind some of the food that was quite interesting. Here are some the street food we had.
This I believe originated in the coast but has actually become a Kenyan street food. It is available in all towns around the country. It is what is served right outside the club when you step out, what is sold outside many city estates in the evenings by the roadside. In Lamu they were sold right on the streets, marinated in lime, salt and garlic. it was tender and cheap. Each piece was ksh 50 ($0.5)
Is this really a street food? yes? No? I am not sure either. But It is sold in streets during mango season. The chili is mixed with a bit of salt and the mango MUST be the local type. Just a bit ripe. Tastes of perfection I tell you.
Mhogo is swahili for cassava. This again is something that has been adopted in other parts of the country. The cassava is roasted whole, then peeled then roasted again on the charcoal grill. It is then split and chili mixed with salt put into the slit and some lime sprinkled over it. HEAVEN!!
Mkate wa Nyama
This means “bread made with meat” This is basically a chapati dough rolled out really thin, then a precooked mince meat filling added to it. Sort of like a samosa but in a rectangular shape and cooked on a tawa (flat pan)
Made from what the locals called unga wa wanga, they really tried to explain what this was but I couldn’t get it. Do you have any idea what it is? Anyway so it is unga wa wanga, sugar, coconut milk and cardamom cooked the way you’d cook ugali. Stiring till it forms a mass. Rolling this mass into strings then cut up into smaller sized balls. They were quite tasty. Kind of reminded me of Haluwa.
The story behind Mala Langa is quite interesting. The recipe was created by a jealous co wife who wanted to poison the husband. She made this recipe trying to imitate the look of potatoes. When she served her husband he loved the dish so much that he chased away the other wife and they lived happily every after. So see, the way to a mans heart is through his stomach 🙂
Haluwa is a swahili desert influenced by the Arabs. It is made from oil, sugar, nuts and spices. Haluwa is always part of wedding celebrations. In Swahili culture once a man agrees to take a woman as his wife and responsibility they take some haluwa and coffee as a sign of celebration.
Haluwa has always been my favourite what is yours?