Chef's table: Kiran Jethwa in Nairobi

Kiran Jethwa, Channel 4's ' The Fearless Chef', reveals the best eats in and around his hometown of Nairobi, from bush tucker to fine dining.

By Kiran Jethwa
Published 25 Nov 2016, 08:00 GMT, Updated 8 Jul 2021, 09:54 BST
Headshot of Kiran Jethwa
Headshot of Kiran Jethwa.

In the city
Nairobi is one of Africa's most cosmopolitan cities, as reflected in its choice of quality restaurants and bars. The Brew Bistro, has an excellent micro-brewery with a creative bar-food menu, and the Zen Garden is a Thai fusion restaurant that never disappoints. One of my favourites has to be the superb Indian grill, Hashmi ( I opened my first restaurant, the Seven Seafood & Grill in Nairobi about six years ago — one of the city's first modern contemporary restaurants. 

Traditional eats
The classic celebratory meal in central Kenya would be nyama choma (barbecued goat), ugali (white polenta), sukuma wiki (sautéed kale), irio (potato and pea mash), and githeri (slow-stewed red kidney beans). These are quite simple staples but with a bit of creativity can be elevated to a world-class feast. My take would be a slow-cooked smoked sirloin of goat, with githeri tostada, bubble and squeak of irio and creamed sukuma

Bush tucker
The Giriama people, who live in the coastal regions of Kenya, serve the strangest thing I've encountered: giant cane rat. Trapped in maize fields, cane rats are far from pleasing on the eye but once skinned and roasted they are remarkably tasty. My favourite Kenyan ingredient is our wild oysters — small, gnarly looking things, but when you crack them open they reveal a sweet, beautiful oyster. 

The chef: Kiran Jethwa

Star of Channel 4's The Fearless Chef, Extreme Food and Food Unwrapped, Jethwa searches the globe for indigenous ingredients with an extreme twist. Born in Nairobi, his cooking style is influenced by his English and Indian roots.

Published in the November 2016 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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