Author Archives: jerry

A peek into The Swahili way of life

The Swahili people are found on the coast of Eastern Africa. The east coast of Africa is known for its tropical beaches, great lakes, huge game areas, and the mighty and majestic snow-capped Mt Kilimanjaro.

Of the many gastronomic traditions, one of the finest is Swahili. The others include Ethiopian and Moroccan.

Whenever a dish has a Swahili name, it invariably contains coconut or bananas and will, more often than not, have been prepared with herbs and spices introduced long ago by Arab and Indian traders who frequented the east African coast as merchants.

There is coconut milk and curry which is made with home- grown curry, coconut milk in soups, vegetables, egg dishes, fish, meat and poultry, as well as in dessert dishes. Bananas are used in meat stews as well as with fish and poultry. Ugali (made from maize meal), the perennial cornmeal porridge, is the major staple. Eating Ugali is a skill. To eat, one must first makes a ball, dip into the relish broth and then put into the mouth. Rice with meat and spices known as “pilau” is also frequently eaten there.

Drinks are made from different types of grains, banana, sugar cane, honey, bamboo juice or palm juice. After the drink is processed, it is left to stand over-night or several nights to ferment into a light or potent alcoholic drink.

swahili-m.jpgA visit to the outdoor market of Mombasa is an interesting experience. Under a huge roof, vendors sit cross legged at the sides of their low stands and sell a great variety of fruits and vegetables, chickens, live pigeons, meats, freshly caught fish, and myriad spices.

At the “mganga stands”(a Swahili word for medicine man) you can buy many mysterious potions; little bottles to cure you anything from a snake bite, insect bite, or that magic portion to seduce your lover. There are also brightly colored powders which you can sprinkle on your lover’s Ugali to make him (or her) more amorous, as well as to heal all manner of other ills. Little shops abound where you can buy kitchen utensils.

The Swahili people are friendly and hospitable, and a guest is shown great deference. It’s hard to leave, and when the time comes, you’ll say regretfully, “Kwa heri ya kuonana.” (translation: Farewell, ’til we meet again.)

[tags]Swahili, Swahili diet[/tags]