Kikuyu cultural foods
As earlier mentioned, mukimo is the signature dish among the Kikuyu. Interestingly, there are many versions of this African vegetarian meal of the Kikuyu. Depending on the ingredients that go into the dish, you can have mukimo of njahi, mukimo of minji, irio, or kamitu. Necessarily, let’s therefore briefly explore these Kikuyu cultural foods individually:
Types of Kikuyu Mukimo
Mukimo of Njahi
Njahi beans or hyacinth beans simmer together with green maize in a pot, before adding potatoes, near ripe bananas (locally marigu matotu), and salt to taste. Kikuyu women mash all the contents together and serve with a stew of choice. The community practices an interesting African food tradition by giving this dish to mothers who have just given birth. In fact, njahi has the perfect beans type if you wanted to make ethereal black food with yummy results.
Mukimo of Minji
Mukimo of minji is the most popular version of this Kikuyu cultural food, consisting of mashed green peas, fresh young maize, and potatoes. Comparatively, this dish resembles the Luhya traditional meal Mushenye with Bambara nuts. More often, Kikuyu women fry potatoes on low heat first and add the boiled mashed mixture of maize and peas and salt to taste. You can serve the dish with a stew of choice, often varying meat stew. These green peas mixed with diced carrots and brown rice deliver a plateful of healthy African food.
Arguably, Irio is the most vegetarian version of the mukimo Kikuyu cultural foods. The selection of ingredients includes fresh maize, beans, green vegetables (mainly cowpea leaves or stinging nettle), green banana, and potatoes. The cooking of irio follows interesting Kenyan food traditions of the African lifestyle – boil, drain water, add tubers, simmer, add veggies, simmer, add salt, and mash. This is a true African vegetarian meal, a complete dish in itself, packed with starch, proteins, and vegetables.
Kamitu is a unique version of the mukimo Kikuyu cultural food, with no addition of maize. Instead, the ingredients list includes nutritious pigeon peas and clean fine potatoes. The Kikuyus attach an interesting Kenyan food tradition to this dish: it is a preserve for the old without some teeth and for weddings.
Roots, tubers, and fruits among Kikuyu
The Kikuyu African lifestyle adheres to the traditional way of eating fresh leafy vegetables. As such, you find various African vegetarian meals with such leafy vegetables as cabbage, kale, pumpkin leaves, and cowpea leaves. Understandably, seasoning among the Kikuyu follows interesting African food traditions that use such ingredients as onions, tomatoes, carrots, capsicum, and carrots. Of greater note, Kikuyu cooking is low on spices, with the exception of salt, ginger, sodium bicarbonate, and curry powder.
Related: Evaluating spices in Benin food
Generally, traditional Kikuyu food culture is basically plant-based because meat was a luxury food for the few, especially the wealthy. On special occasions, like sacrifices or festivals, Kikuyu ate meat (mainly goat) in small quantities. Kikuyu men partook in meat-eating more than their women and children because only men often participated in ceremonial occasions. Still, in modern times, meat consumption is still highly limited to adult men at bars and other selling points.
The Luhya and Kikuyu tribes of western and central Kenya respectively, have a rich Kenyan food culture of consuming healthy leafy vegetables, legumes, and root vegetables. The two communities remain true to traditional African lifestyle of eating from the farm. They offer great examples of traditional African vegetarian meals that you can enjoy at any time of the day. Which of the various green leafy vegetables have you ever tried? How about the roots and tubers of these East African ethnic tribes?
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