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Nyama Choma with Kachumbari and Ugali

This recipe has been tested by staff at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in an American kitchen. The cooks who participated in the Kenya program of the Festival, who can be heard on the accompanying podcast were cooking in the outdoor kitchen at the event, and their recipes are designed for Kenyan climates and kitchens. Thus, cook with discretion. Good luck!

Nyama Choma with Kachumbari and Ugali
“If you haven't eaten it, you haven't been to Kenya.” —Alice Oduor

Originally, male hunters cooked game meat over a fire while they were on expeditions. They enjoyed it so much that the practice was brought back to the home. Today nyama choma is eaten on special occasions, such as a weekend family get-together, with the staple food ugali and the fresh vegetable salad, kachumbari.

In Kenya, it is generally the men who do the grilling outdoors, while munching on the meat and gossiping. At the Festival, the female Kenyan cooks joked that the men would eat all the good cuts of meat while cooking and leave the lesser cuts for the women and children. Nyama choma is best paired with a few pints of the Kenyan beer, Tusker.


Beef Marinade

  • Approximately 2 pounds of beef short ribs (another meat option would be goat short ribs)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  • 3 to 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 lemon or lime, juiced
  • ¼ teaspoon chili pepper
  • Cilantro to taste, chopped (optional)
  • Black pepper to taste


  • Flour
    • White corn flour used for making tortillas
    • In Kenya they often make their own using maize, millet/sorghum, or cassava
    • For young children, omena can be dried and ground into flour for added nutrients
  • Water
  • Margarine (optional, not traditional)
  • Salt (optional, not traditional)


Beef Marinade

  • Salt the meat and sprinkle water over it for added moisture.
  • Mix together turmeric, garlic, and oil in a bowl and rub over the meat (this step can be skipped if you prefer spice- and oil-free meat).
  • Marinate, covered and in the refrigerator, for ten minutes to two hours, depending on how strong you want the flavors to be.
  • Grill over hot coals until well done, or roast in oven at 350 degrees for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on cut of meat.
Nyama Choma with Kachumbari and Ugali


  • Combine tomatoes, onions, celery, lemon or lime juice, and chili pepper to make a salsa-like mixture.
  • Add black pepper and cilantro, if desired.
Nyama Choma with Kachumbari and Ugali


  • Boil water and add a little more flour than water.
  • Stir until there are no more lumps and mixture is soft.
  • Margarine and salt can be added for flavor, though this is a stray from traditional ugali, which takes its flavor from the sauces or condiments it is served with.
Nyama Choma with Kachumbari and Ugali


  • Serve nyama choma with the kachumbari as a side salad and eat with ugali
  • Kenyans traditionally eat with their hands, taking a bite of the ugali and then following it with the nyama choma and kachumbari

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