I looooooove eating, healthy foods and incredible irresponsible deep fried foods, and whenever I go anywhere I will find two things within the first day: 1. The local most nutritious foods and 2.- equally important- the local deserts.
Nothing wrong with Chia seeds nor Quinoa but I’m all for local foods instead of Super Foods and I don’t believe in Super foods just a super diet. In my opinion I think everyone in Nairobi should have their own little Shamba (farm/vegetable garden) in their back yard if possible and grow some of these leafy gems below. Check them out and hurry to your Mama Mboga to get some of these.
Terere (Amaranth) Seeds
Why get pricey Quinoa if there is Terere (Amaranth) seed. It’s available in every ration store and Uchumi, Chandarana and I think even Nakumatt also sell Terere flour. Compare the nutrition and it is evident that Terere yields about the same amount of protein. At a mere around 400Ksh per Kilo for seeds and 300 for flour it is about 1/3 of the price of Quinoa and it’s locally grown.
Terere (Amaranth) Leaves
Terere (Amaranth) is also a green vegetable with a delectable taste. Commonly used in the Indian Punjabi staple Saag in Kenya it is used in addition to the main ingredient Sarso. In Nairobi I see it mostly named Saro a mustard leaf with a light sharp spicy flavour. A good Saag in my book contains: Sarso, Spinach or Palak and Terere and sometimes Broccoli. Together they make a mineral and vitamin powerhouse anyone should have at least once a week. Preferably with a little Ghee.
Recently I also started to use Managu – African nightshade – into this mix. Loaded with protein, iron, vitamin A, iodine, zinc it’s a staple across East-Africa. In Nairobi we call it Managu which is the Kikiyu name but goes by a plethora of different names in the different languages in Kenya and grows everywhere.You will recognize it at the Green leaves and small white flowers.
Sukuma, I know…and you’re right, this is not really a secret and it’s not East-African specific per se but Kale is an essential part of Kenya’s dinner. Sukuma, Kale, is available everywhere. Can be found growing on the smallest empty space and even on road sides. Sukuma is one of the most nutritious foods you can add to your diet at a cost of next to nothing. I literally add Sukuma to everything, from Pasta carbonara, Kale soup, Kichary, Sukuma omelet and of course sauteed with Onions, tomato, garlic, pepper & Salt as it is eaten in Kenya mostly.
If you grow your own, get someone to buy you the local seeds. We got ours from the Gikomba Market in Nairobi. Well actually someone brought them for us. They are far more hardy to pests, keep yielding new leaves and grow far higher.
Njahi Beans: A typical delicious Kenyan bean everyone should have, either home cooked or at a kiosk, is Njahi beans. It has all the benefits of a regular legume: protein, folate ,iron,vitamin B6,calcium,magnesium and phosphorus but what I love about it is the firm texture.
Identified by the little white strip down the middle, you can find the right away in the isle of any store in Nairobi. We like to eat them in burritos but as a simple rice and bean meal they are simply divine. I still have to try it in Indian recipes like Black Dahl or combine them with Rajma (Kidney beans curry)