A Nairobi street food tour will give your taste buds a run for their money.
Unfortunately, most of us from Kenya have only tried three or four of the best street foods of Nairobi.
But if you travel to eat, you know, like Mark Weins, you will probably want to try all of the street foods in Nairobi.
If you live in or near the capital city of Kenya, you know that street grub is the most affordable food you can eat.
Here is a video of Mark Weins trying some of the Nairobi street foods:
And here are a few must-try street foods in Nairobi:
Kenya Street Food You Must Try In Nairobi
Nairobi Street Food is less spectacular than what you would find in the coastal towns. I guess what I am trying to say here is that the food culture is not as defined as you would find in say, Mumbai, Lagos or Accra.
But it is what it is. And some Nairobians swear by it, and others swear against it.
So what is worth a try? Keep reading!
1. Kenyan Sausage (Mutura) – best street food in Nairobi town
Also referred to as African sausage or in its Kikuyu name Mutura, this is without doubt one of the most popular street foods in Kenya.
You are likely to find it in all towns in the country.
This sausage is made from the large and small intestines of cows, goats or sheep, stuffed with minced meat (not very popular), blood and assorted organ meats.
First, the organ meats are sliced into small pieces and boiled. They are then mixed with blood and stuffed into the raw intestines.
The entire piece is then boiled for about an hour and then it is roasted over hot coals.
If spicy is your kind of thing, take this delicacy with a serving of kachumbari (a salad made of sliced onions, tomatoes, cayenne pepper and coriander).
The real street mutura is found in butcheries or meat joints that serve nyama choma. It is also sold alongside other Nairobi street foods such as boiled cow and goat heads.
Estimated cost – from KSH 50.00 or $0.50
2. Grilled/roast or boiled maize – Kenyan favorite street food
Maize, or if you like corn, is very common in the streets of Nairobi. This is green maize that is grilled or boiled on the cob.
Usually, the boiled variety is sprinkled with salt while the grilled one can be spiced up with lemon and ground pepper.
There is no particular place to find these snacks, but they are more popular in the estates and in downtown Nairobi.
Estimated cost: from KSH 30.00 or $0.33
Note: Roast maize is also referred to as grilled corn. Same thing!
3. Boiled and Fried Cassava/Mhogo
You are most likely to find this starchy and fulfilling delicacy in downtown Nairobi or within the estates.
It is also one of the simplest snacks to make. The cassava is peeled, sliced and washed in cold water, and then it is boiled.
It is then deep fried to a lovely brown color. Better yet, you can buy yours just boiled and it will be just as yummy.
The deep fried slice is then sliced into two parts and a generous serving of kachumbari is stuffed between the two pieces.
Estimated cost – KSH20.00 or $0.20
4. Hard Boiled Eggs – most popular Nairobi street food
This is cheap, real cheap! Within the estates, it costs about $0.20 or KSH 20.00.
In downtown Nairobi, it might cost slightly more than that, but it is still very affordable.
The vendor boils the eggs on a stove. When they are still hot, he or she transfers them to a metallic food trolley that has a small coal stove underneath to continue keeping the eggs warm.
He or she then prepares kachumbari (sliced red onions, tomatoes, coriander and cayenne pepper).
When you buy one, he de-shells it, slices it into two and stuffs it with kachumbari. Depending on your taste, he may also give it a dash of tomato sauce.
5. Smokie with Kachumbari
Smokies are precooked sausages. In popularity, it is perhaps only second to hard boiled eggs.
The vendor just needs to preheat the smokies in their trolley. They will then slice it into two and stuff it with kachumbari.
Estimated cost – KSH25 OR $0.25.
6. Samosa – An Indian Food on Nairobi Streets
This delicacy is popular all over the country. Many Kenyan street food recipes contain it in one form or other.
To make it, the vendor prepares dough from wheat flour. The dough is then spread out using a rolling pin until it is a few millimeters thick.
It is then cut into sizable portions that are fried lightly on a pan and then shaped into pockets.
In the pocket, the vendor stuffs precooked minced meat mixed with fried onions, chopped pepper, tomatoes and sometimes, even vegetables to make vegan samosa.
He or she seals the pocket by clamping the dough together and roasts it again on small heat until it is cooked on both sides.
For about $0.50, you can have a meat or vegetable samosa.
7. Grilled Spicy Meat on Skewers
Also called mshikaki, this street food is not so popular in the estates, well, at least not in the same caliber as hard-boiled eggs, samosa or grilled maize.
But it is the best treat that you could give your taste buds!
Several small pieces of meat (chicken, goat, mutton or fish) are spiced up, skewed and then grilled on coal fire.
You are likely to find mshikaki in the upmarket places of Nairobi such as Westlands.
Estimated cost KSH100 or $0.99
8. Fried Fish – Best Street Food of Nairobi
It is just that – fried fish. It is common in the estates. You can find fried tilapia fish from lakes Naivasha and Victoria.
You can also find the bigger Nile Perch fried and ready to eat right there or to carry home to eat with your dinner of rice, ugali or chapati.
Estimated cost – from KSH200.00 or $2.00
9. Mandazi (fried doughnuts)
This is one of the most popular street foods in Nairobi. People take these mandazi with their tea, with beans or just on their own.
They are made with dough (usually sweetened with sugar) with yeast added to help the dough rise.
Small strips of rolled dough are then dipped into hot oil, deep-fried to a lovely brown color and served.
10. Water melon – a slice of this and that
We cannot conclude this write-up of the best street foods to eat in Nairobi without including a fruit or two. Fruit stalls teem in this city in their hundreds.
Among the fruits that you will find there include water melons, oranges, grapefruits, avocado, mangoes, pineapples and many more.
It depends on what is in season. But whatever you get, you are assured of enjoying farm-fresh juiciness as only Nairobi can offer.
Go on. Try that rich red watermelon slice. You will never regret it. You can try Ngara Market for many fruit varieties.
Conclusion for Nairobi Street Food Tour
That is it for the most common Kenya street foods that you can expect to eat on your Nairobi Street Food Tour.
Of course, there are other street foods such as chicken necks, feet and gizzards, which are not very popular with people.
Others such as viazi karai are also available albeit rarely because they are more coastal-oriented than inland.
Tell me… what do you like to eat?
Is there street food unique to Nairobi that I have left out? Let me know!