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The Kenyan Breakfast


Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, it gives you a good start and energy to keep going.

In Kenya, a breakfast meal differs from household to household but the staple breakfast must include a cup of tea. 

Most Kenyans love to have their tea with milk but some prefer it black with or without lemon.  

A true Kenyan breakfast experience is one way of learning about the culture and traditions of a community.

Here are some of the most popular dishes served for a true Kenyan Breakfast.

1. Mandazi (deep-fried dough)


This is made from dough that is deep-fried. It originated from the Swahili people from the Kenyan coast. 

It is similar to donuts but may taste different depending on the ingredients used. 

Some common ingredients added to the mandazi for flavor are lemon zest, cinnamon, or cardamom.  

Maandazis can be made at home or bought from cafés, restaurants or from street vendors that make them every morning.

They are usually eaten with tea chai or coffee. They are served warm for breakfast or can be eaten as a snack.

2. Mahamri (Swahili donuts)

Mahamri is Swahili donuts popular in the coastal region in Kenya. It is similar to the Maandazi but it is hollow and is made from yeast.

This is a staple breakfast among the Swahili and it is usually accompanied by mbaazi (pigeon peas) in coconut milk.

A good mahamri has to be soft and hollow for a good scoop when eating it with the mbaazi.

3. Vibibi (Rice Coconut pancake)

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Vibibi are sweet fluffy delicious pancakes made from rice and coconut. It is also another coastal breakfast staple.

The rice is soaked overnight then blended with coconut milk and other ingredients to make a smooth batter.

It is then let to settle and puff up nicely. Ghee is used in frying them in a covered pan. Once cooked they can be served with tea or coffee.

4.  Sweet potatoes, Arrow roots or Cassava

By National Institute of Korean Language – Wikimedia

These are common breakfast dishes served in most homes and can be bought from cafés and restaurants in Kenya.

They are considered healthy because they are full of fiber, healthy carbs, and vitamin A. The traditional way of making them is by boiling or roasting them.

The preparation methods have since evolved; they can be baked, or deep-fried to add more flavor to it. These cannot be enjoyed without a cup of steaming tea.

Flour from sweet potatoes and cassava are used to make pancakes too, they are gluten-free.

5. Chapati Rolex

By Zeel Patel – Wikimedia

Chapati is a flatbread made from dough and fried on a pan just like pancakes. They are popularly served as a main dish with stew but is also eaten during breakfast.

Chapati for breakfast is usually from dinner leftovers. To spice it up, most people prepare rolex, an omelet then roll it up with the chapati.

They can be made at home, ordered in restaurants or from street vendors. 

6. Sweet bananas (Brazillian bananas)

The sweet bananas are tiny and sweet as the name suggests and are a common traditional breakfast dish served with tea in rural Kenya.

It is mostly enjoyed with a cup of black tea or tea with milk and mostly with no sugar because the bananas have enough sweetness.

The bananas can be bought from the supermarket, open-air markets and from street hawkers that sell them at affordable prices.

7. Uji (Porridge)

This is also another Kenyan breakfast meal that is popularly served at home or in restaurants. It is loved by many as it is considered to be healthy and rich in fiber and nutrients.

It is common to see women selling Uji by roadside kiosks early morning mostly to bus drivers and construction workers.

Most Kenyans love their Uji fermented. Some add lemon juice, margarine or milk to the non-fermented Uji for more rich flavor.

Uji is made from a mixture of millet, sorghum, cassava, and maize flour. The flour can be bought from the supermarket, or cereal shops and is either fermented or plain. 

To ferment it yourself, make a paste from the flour, cover it and keep it in a warm place overnight. It will be ready to cook in the morning.

 It is usually served in a traditional dried calabash cut in half.

8. Kaimati (sweet dumplings)

Another delightful crunchy breakfast delicacy that does not miss the breakfast table especially if you are down at the coast.

It is similar to mandazi and mahamri but unlike the two. Kaimati is made from batter without sugar, a main ingredient in the other two. 

Once all the ingredients are well mixed, the batter is left to settle then deep-fried by scooping the batter using oiled hands and squeezing them into the hot oil, it requires skills

From the fire they are placed in a bowl with sugar and cardamom syrup and mixed well to ensure they are fully coated. 

Enjoy this with a cup of tea or coffee.