Looking for Kenyan spices, tea, jam, cereals, chapati, or beans? Here is a short but great list of typical Kenyan food currently available in stores around the USA.
When I am feeling a little bit homesick, I take a trip down to Spices of India, my local go-to- place for Kenyan goodies . This store gives me incredible waves of nostalgia. When I shop here, many of my foodie childhood dreams come to life. To show you why, here is a list of a few of the things that I needed on my last trip.
….and here are some quick photos of what I found while in the store.
I cannot go past the juice aisle without doing a double take on this very popular juice. Every child knows that when you get thirsty and need a drink to cool you off, you pour out a glass of ribena; a blackcurrant drink, rich in vitamin C. “Ahh.. Refreshing!”
Tea time in Kenya is a great tradition. It is a time to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family. Typically tea can be taken anytime, but the most popular times are 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It is the time to serve up fragrant ginger or masala tea from beautiful tea pots into cute little tea cups or mugs.Tea is not complete without servings of mouthwatering cupcakes, maandazi, samosas or cookies. However a tea tray is not good enough if it does not have options for tea, coffee, hot chocolate and milo. If you want to recreate the same and don’t have milo, substitute with nesquick.
Nido is a milk powder, fortified with vitamins and iron. Moms usually make sure this is available for children. It is used as a substitute for fresh milk and tastes quite nice.
Ketepa Tea Bags
When you say “Ketepa”, everyone knows you are talking about tea. Ketepa stands for the Kenya Tea Packers company that blends, packs and distributes tea nationwide. Ketepa is as synonymous to tea in Kenya as the lipton brand is in the US. It is so popular, that anyone leaving the country, must carry five or more boxes of tea. I have several boxes of tea in my pantry and often give them out as gifts.
I love cardamon in my tea. The trick is to pop the seeds out of the cardamon shell and drop them into the milk and water mix before boiling. This will guarantee that your tea has a soothing and robust cardamon flavour. Yum, Yum!.
You could also try the cardamom tea bags shown here.
I am a great fan of samosas and often make them from scratch. Sometimes, I just want to have them ready to go as a quick treat. The lamb samosas and chicken samosas are fabulous.
I have yet to try the spinach and cheese samosas.
Chapati is a lovely flat bread, and can be compared to pita bread or tortillas. I love to eat chapati with a well seasoned beef, lentil and turkey stew, because it tastes so good that way. Chapati is common at parties and get togethers. I have seen chapati at a birthday party, graduation party and especially at a wedding party. You will also find that most local Kenyan restaurants have chapati on their menu.
These chapatis can be found in the freezer section. They are fully cooked and ready to go. All you have to do is warm the chapati in a skillet, using directions on the package. Here is an easy to make chapati dinner.
Get this chapati flour, if you are feeling brave enough to make chapati from scratch. It is labour intensive, but well worth the time.
I recently discovered that I had been missing out on coriander seeds.
I usually cook with dhania,the coriander plant aka cilantro and hardly ever used the coriander seeds. That changed when I figured out how to make bhajia, a delicious coriander potato fritter, that I love, love, love. Coriander seeds are a must use ingredient in bhajia, otherwise you won’t get the right taste and right flavour. So now, I have some stocked up for my next bhajia adventure. Yoo Hoo!
Weetabix was my favourite breakfast cereal for a long long time. Maybe until age 10. Then ,we were introduced to Cornflakes and later on I found out about Raisin Bran and now I am in love with Muesli. Here is why.
Weetabix is a tasty wholegrain, high in fiberand good for you. But, if you don’t eat it fast enough, it gets soggy. Children enjoy it nonetheless. Cornflakes are a bit more merciful. The flakes wait until you get to the bottom of your bowl before they get to the soggy part. Raisin bran is a darlin’. It is made of wheat, just like my beloved weetabix, only it comes as crunchy flakes. The raisins are a nice sweet touch. Muesli is my best friend. I love the mixture of oats, the sweetness from dried fruit and crunch from the nuts. All this combined with coconut flakes, honey and toasted nuts served over yogurt, makes this easy to make breakfast a must have in our pantry.
Tea time is the time to have digestives. These biscuits or cookies as they call them in the US are delicious with either a hot cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or a cold glass of milk. You can find these biscuits in your local grocery store.
Anytime I see mango juice, my legs grow weak, and my knees want to buckle. So here I was, on the aisle trying to flip a coin and decide whether or not to buy this mango juice. In the end, my gut told me to go for it. I did not regret it. Here are other options for Mango Juice.
This is the quintessential jam that is always in my Mum’s dining room. Strawberry jam is my absolute favourite. My Mum still uses it today as a spread on toasts and at the breakfast table the question is always: “Butter and Jam for your toast?”
Garam Masala and Curry Powder
These two flavours though of Indian origin, are now common in Kenyan cooking. I love to have some curry in my chicken, sauted kale or spinach and now use garam masala to spice up some of my beef dishes.
Last but not least, I found some other goodies that I could not resist.
Dettol soap. It reminds of the fresh scent of tea tree loaded hair shampoos.
Lux soap, promises to transform your skin with fragranced moisturizing oils.
Lifebuoy soap. This soap was for those who worked hard and needed a thorough cleanse. Looks like they moved on from the yucky dark red licorice scent, to this refreshing ocean blue soap bar.
So, if you are looking for something interesting from Kenya, Spices of India, or any other Indian store in your neighbourhood will not disappoint. They carry many different items from around the globe. While you shop, music and video on a large screen TV belts out tunes from Bollywood.
Take your time as you walk down the isles. You could easily spend an hour . We had a great time touching this and that, sharing stories from our trips to Kenya and remembering what life is like in dreamy Kenya. It was delightful!
Moral of the story…. shop with an open mind and don’t be afraid to try something that you have never had before…. our trial treat was item no. 3 and 4. above.
Look out for upcoming recipes.
Happy Scrumplicious Shopping!