Do you want a chance to catch-up to Usain Bolt? Try this Kenyan Maziwa. One of the most outstanding aspects of vegetarian African food is its simple and budget-friendly nature. And Kenyan recipes are no different. This popular food in Kenya basic ingredient is milk plus a little patience. The rewarding outcome has a blend of creamy, tangy, and sour taste that most Kenyans love. Maziwa Mala (sour milk) is not only versatile but also has loads of health benefits. Fermenting foods is not a new concept, with some examples like kombucha, yogurt, and sourdough bread. But, how do you sour milk the traditional Kenyan way? Plus, how is this delight linked to Kenya’s best athletes? First, let’s trace its origin.

Traditional home made maziwa mala. One of the most outstanding aspects of vegetarian African food is its simple and budget-friendly nature.
Kenyan home made maziwa mala

Kenya’s Secret Sip

There’s this notion that among Kenyan recipes, maziwa is what singles out the best athletes in the country. We’ll have to leave that to the experts to confirm but, it’s a fact that the best athletes hail from the slopes of the Kenyan Rift Valley where milk is a staple. It is also believed that long before modern milk preservation methods were invented, the Kalenjin people of Kenya would ferment milk in a charcoal-coated guard called sotet when the supply was in excess. The result is mursik, which is the Kalenjin version of maziwa lala. This is the special drink our athletes receive at the airport in honor of their success.

Kenyan athlete drinking maziwa mala.  But, how do you sour milk the traditional Kenyan way? This popular food in Kenya basic ingredient is milk plus a little patience.
Welcoming Kenyan Athlete with a sip of Mala

Presently, even with the invention of better ways of milk preservation, maziwa Lala is still the cherished popular food in Kenya. You’ll find it in the stores, at local eateries, and most homes. Locals enjoy it as an accompaniment, especially with Ugali, Kenya’s best vegetarian African food. For some communities, serving maziwa mala is a show of respect and appreciation. This is the type of drink fans of kefir OR plain yogurt would enjoy. 

Related: Light Kenyan Rice Pancakes

In a nutshell, maziwa mala is fermented milk, which is known by different names among Kenyan recipes. Like other fermented foods, this popular food in Kenya has outstanding benefits. Let’s see why your body needs fermented foods.

3 Top Benefits of Fermented Foods

  1. Fermenting foods improves the availability of nutrients.

It does this by removing ‘anti-nutrients’ from foods making their nutritional content easier for the body to access.

  1. Source of beneficial bacteria. 

Experts say that feeding your gut with fermented foods helps give you a better mix of bacteria that boosts gut health, which in turn boosts all the body functions that your gut supports- from your immune system, appetite, and weight to your mood and behavior.

  1. Easier to digest. 

The bacterial breakdown of some of the natural sugars and starches allows our systems to digest fermented foods easily. In the case of maziwa, for example, fermenting breaks the lactose into simpler sugars. So, if you’re lactose intolerant, this popular food in Kenya may be acceptable for you.

Related: Fermented Kenyan Porridge

How does this Soya Maziwa taste?

As a Liberian, I grew up drinking sour milk from cow and thought I would never eat sour milk again. However, after making this plant-based mala, I am so excited to share it with the world! Soya maziwa mala tastes creamy, light and very slightly sour. After fermenting the soy milk for two days, I was pleasantly surprise that the smell is faint and almost non-existent. I made one cup to sample; after it was fermented and sweetened, I drank it all in few minutes. Of course I got angry that I didn’t make more soya maziwa! Not to worry, I already bought a whole carton of oat-milk and I will ferment the whole thing! Soy milk is best to use for sour milk because of its thickness which add creaminess without needing to add yogurt for thickness. Do try soya mala, it is so delicious! Thank you Kenya for more easy, healthy, and banging foods!

Kenyan Recipes with Maziwa Mala

You’re probably wondering where to begin with this amazing Kenyan drink. Better still, how do you sour milk? Most Kenyans living in cities prefer store-bought mala because fresh milk is expensive and not in plenty. However, those in rural areas make their sour milk at home. 

Different Kenyan communities incorporate mala in their diet in various ways. For example, the Kalenjins enjoy it as a refreshing drink with ugali or on its own as a snack. Those in Central Kenya add it to their porridge for healthy vegetarian African food. While on the Kenyan Coast, locals add mala in some of their pastries and stews.

So, how do you sour milk naturally? Check out the recipe instructions below. Please let us know how it turned out and how you enjoyed it.

Want to get more Kenyan recipes? Check other delicious recipes from East Africa.  If you’re curious about a no-animal-meat food lifestyle, check out our Instagram page for real-life inspirations 😊.


Kenyan Homemade Maziwa Lala

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

One of the popular Kenyan Recipes enjoyed as both soup and water for meals that are otherwise dry. You'll love this creamy Kenyan goodness to the last drop!


  • Soy Milk - 2 cups
  • A Clear Bottle/Container with a tight lid (that can fit the milk)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)


  1. Before preparing this vegetarian African food, ensure your equipment and surface are very clean to avoid contaminating your maziwa mala.
  2. In a cooking pot, pour in your 2 cups of soy milk. Put on the stove and boil the milk on medium-low heat. Have it to a complete boil.
  3. Put off the stove and allow the milk to cool until it is lukewarm.
  4. Transfer the milk to the clean clear bottle. A clear bottle allows you to see and ensure the milk has curdled or that the fermenting has taken place. Tightly lid the bottle.
  5. Place the bottle in a warm place for 48 hours. You can leave it on your kitchen counter, that's warm enough.
  6. After 48 hours, you'll see that the milk has separated into curds/lumps and water. Shake the bottle to break the lumps and mix the contents. Alternatively, you can use a blender for a smooth mix.
  7. Add sugar to taste. Sugar brings out that sweet and sour taste. Pour it into a clean bottle and place it in the fridge to cool (tastes better when cold).
  8. Enjoy with Ugali or as a dessert.


  • The longer the milk ferments, the more bitter your maziwa lala. For a beginner, start with 48 hours for starters, and then ferment it for longer the next time, to see which one you'd prefer.
  • Additionally, leaving it to ferment for longer could make your maziwa thinner/ watery.
  • Store leftover fermented milk in the fridge for up to a week.
  • We use soy milk in this recipe, cow milk is commonly used to make this popular food in Kenya.

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