A town with an incredible mix of culture can never be devoid of its own wonder. So it is with Mombasa, an island town located by the Indian Ocean in Kenya. Tourists troop here for the heat, the nightlife, and the beach; but more incredibly—though less talked about, for the delicious cuisine. In Mombasa, the coastal food is a phenomenon. The meals are product of years of culture mix and tradition which overtime has been perfected into mouth-watering dishes. There is no better way to feel the city than tasting its amazing food. Here are 9 incredible meals you should taste in Mombasa. Trust us, you cannot afford to miss them.
1.“Viazi Karanga” (fried potatoes) or Viazi Karai
It’s funny how this food earned its name. In Swahili, “Viazi Karanga” is the word for fried potatoes, which ideally is most appropriate for the food, but on the street, you hear folks call it ‘viazi karai’ meaning potatoes from the basin. It seems it used to be sold in basins, which is ‘karai’ in Swahili and that is how the named stuck.
In any case, this tasty meal is made of fried potatoes, chow it down with nice sauce such as Chatini, a thick sauce made from grated coconut and, sometimes, sour additives, or Ukwaju, i.e. tamarind sauce which is a mix of water soaked tamarind, onions, garlic, salt and sometimes pepper. Ukwaju tastes nicely sour, but the thicker it is, the better, Viazi Karai and Tomato gravy and go down well.
Literarily translates as “baobab seeds” which is exactly what this snack is. The seeds are cooked with a nice smelling flavour, food colour and sugar to give them the characteristic colourful look and sweet taste that defines it. If you are buying it, ensure that it is the little powdery and wet ones that you buy as some sellers manipulate the sticky ones, by adding water to overstayed mabuyu.
This is a super sweet snack made from mango. The mango is dried, sweetened or salted, and sometimes coloured—often with red; some do add pepper to give it a hot taste.
4. Sea food
I can’t tell the last person who sold snow to an eskimo, but I do know that there is one place you’d be happy you paid for seafood! From Pweza(octopus), Kambaa (prawns), and any saltwater fish especially Kiboma, there is no denying the fact that an experience in Mombasa without a taste of sea food is incomplete.
You can equally call it kite shape, which is its loose English translation, and shape. This colourful snack is made using dry grated coconut, food colouring and sugar, and comes in colours such as orange, pink and red, need I say it’s something good for the taste bud?
6. Mkate wa sinia
This is a snack often taken as breakfast. The name means “bread of the platter” in English. Mkate wa sinia is a delicious soft cake that has a wonderful silky sieve-like texture and tastes exotic and amazing, take it with tea to savour it at its best.
This snack is a form of fried bread, similar to doughnut, but with its distinct sweet taste. It is a fast snack that can be eaten with almost any food or dips or just as a snack by itself. In Mombasa, they are usually sold together with Mbaazi za nazi (pigeon peas in coconut extract), a combination that is really filling.
These crunchy dumplings in sweet sugar syrup are delightful snacks that can be enjoyed at any time. They are really soft and available on the streets especially in the evening. They are simply sweet.
This food contain a lot of sugar and saturated fat, it tastes great but not recommended for diabetic patients. However, it is a signature delicacy in Mombasa and a taste of it won’t do a harm. It’s made of starchy flour and the good ones taste really sweet.