Last year I was lucky enough to go back to my home town, Mombasa in Kenya after a whopping 20 years! Yeah, long time right? So you can imagine how excited I was about visiting my old town, eating kenyan food and most importantly, seeing my family who I hadn't seen since '95!
After so many years away, I still found it to be a beautiful country with extremely friendly locals (who are super laid-back, "hakuna matata" you'd hear often). They would always greet you with "Jumbo!" as you walked past and strike up a conversation with you.
Fabz and I got the chance to go around a few markets in the main town. We got to see a variety of fruits and vegetables, some that are native to Kenya, lots of colourful spices, aromatic teas and coffees (also famous aroound the world)... It was crazy in there with all the market traders showing your their produce, hoping you'd buy some.
There were plenty of street food vendors everywhere you went! My cousin was telling us that anyone can just pitch up a stall and sell food because there's no one actually checking for permits or licences.
The grilled maize (below left), is similar to the yellow corn on the cob we're more use to seeing. This African maize is picked when it's mature so it can really stand the heat of the grill. It's delicious and so full of flavour because it's cooked straight on the open grill so you get that smokey, charred flavour. They can finish it off by rubbng salt, chilli powder and lime on, which I obviously asked for, always.
My stand out street food which I couldn't get enough of was Mogo, pronounced mo-ho-go. I vividly remembered it from when I was young. It's deep fried cassava strips sliced down the middle and filled with salt, chilli powder and lime. It's crispy of the outside and soft in the middle and you have to eat it whilst it's still hot! You can see a picture of it over on my instagram. They also had these hand held mandalins which they used to shave off the ends of cassava really quickly and straight into the fryer to make cassava crisps. You could eat them with just a bit of salt or yes, you guessed it, salt, chilli powder and lime. Don't think you could get any fresher than that. Oh how I would love a bag of those right now!
We left the hectic city of Mombasa and headed down the south coast (after a long, hot wait for the ferry), Tiwi Beach to be precise, and it was just paradise! So peaceful, quiet and surprisingly not very touristy considering it was high season, not that I'm complaining, that's how I like it. We made friends with some lovely beach boys who put on a little lunch spread for us with lobster, mangoes, oranges, madafus and cassava chips.
The machungwas (oranges) in Kenya are actually green but the taste is pretty similar. The coconut water is just on another level and the best thing about drinking it straight from the coconut is that you get to scrape out all that delicious coconut flesh to eat up after!
All the dishes that I tried during my time in Mombasa were delicious! Too many to mention in just one post. There's a huge variety of spices and cooking tehniques that are used both at home and out. The reason why there's so much diversity in Mombasa dates back to it's history when the city was a major harbour for all sorts of trades. These included spices given the proximity to India and the middle east. The eventful history of Mombasa mirrors its diverse community made of native Africans, Arabs, Indians and Europeans.
We had such a great time in Kenya and we'll definitely be going back, hopefully it won't take us 20 years this time!