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5 Gikuyu dishes you’ll never miss in their ceremonies

Kikuyus have some of the best food, especially if you would like to adopt a vegetarian diet for your lifestyle.

File image of Kikuyu elders during a 2017 ceremony in Gatanga constituency, Murang'a County

Too much has been said about the Kikuyus knack for wealth creation, their beautiful women, and their supposedly bland food dishes.

In any case, while one may not necessarily have a palate for Kikuyu dishes, Kikuyus serve some of the most nutritious dishes among indigenous Kenyan tribes.

Given the geo-demographics of Gikuyu people and the tribe's agrarian foundations, their cuisine provides a remarkable blueprint for vegetarian diets.

Whenever there is a ceremony, the Gikuyu strive to ensure that the food served to the guests is wholesome and a delicacy that will leave lifetime memories.

What follows is a list of common Kikuyu foods that you will hardly miss on the menu for occasions such as ruracio (engagement ceremony).

This is a traditional dish that is still very common today in the community. In fact, it has become a Kenyan staple that you would typically order as kienyeji at a kibanda.

Mukimo is a mash of potatoes, pumpkin leaves, kidney beans or green peas, and corn.

The ingredients are boiled until cooked and then mashed using a mwiko while hot and after draining the boiling broth. Mukimo can be served and eaten at this point but it is also often fried with shallots and seasoned as desired.

Whether it is a wedding, sad occasion, or thanksgiving event, you will never miss this delicacy in a Gikuyu gathering.

It is a single dish that is nutritionally complete with protein, carbs, green leafy veggies and more.

The last thing you might need is a stew or soup to avoid choking.

Most people do not like this delicacy probably because they do not know how the Gikuyu make it.

Black peas are very rich nutritionally which is why, among the Gikuyu people, they are mostly served to nursing mothers.

Among some families, a mukimo of njahi, matoke and ripe bananas was also traditionally served during Ruracio to the man's family as a subtle sign that the bride's family had accepted the marriage proposal and dowry terms.

In most Kikuyu occasions, black beans are boiled until cooked then fried with shallots and grated carrots then served with a main dish like rice.

Now, this is a mixture of everything and a far cry from pilau as it is made among the Swahili, but all in all, it is sweet and nutritious as well. It may be more accurate to call this dish the Kikuyu version of fried rice.

You see, Kikuyus are a busy lot of people and may never have the time to cook every ingredient like the Swahilis from the Coast.

Pilau Njeri is a mixture of rice, potatoes, beef, tomatoes, carrots and more, all in one. It can then be served with some veggies.

You will never miss this delicacy in any Kikuyu ceremony - it’s also this writer's personal favorite.

To thicken the stew, a few potatoes are added and you can’t resist devouring this delicacy. It is mostly served with rice or chapatis.

The Gikuyu have simple recipes for mutton stew as well that can be made alongside minji stew - the community was primarily herders but eventually transitioned into commercial dairy farming.

Boiled meat and barbeque roasts are also a common feature in Gikuyu ceremonies.

Chapatis are a favourite among all Kenyan people, they are as popular as ugali but almost exclusively reserved for special family dinners and special occasions.

In most homes, there's a designated 'chapo maker'. That one family member, man or woman, who can make soft, layered chapos with their eyes closed.

Among the Gikuyu brown chapos are also classic and with the growing popularity of chapos the recipe has been expanded to include additions such as mashed pumpkin and grated carrots.

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