East African Foods

Welcome all you who are nudging and prodding to find out more on East African foods! The East of Africa provides unique scenery, harbouring and beautified by the world’s second largest fresh water lake – Lake Victoria as well as the famous Mount Kilimanjaro. Its plentiful fauna of five of the world’s biggest wild animals – elephants, rhinoceros, leopards, lions and water buffalo makes this part of the world even more desirable to seekers of tranquility.

East Africa is home to mainly Somalia and Somaliland, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. So if you are looking for East African foods, you must be looking for foods eaten by people from these countries – off course I know – I heard you saying.

Why not try out some of these African foods on your next African Safari holiday?

Like most African foods, Eastern African foods consists of dishes made from grains, including sorghum, millet, rice, maize, yam, beans and cowpeas, flours for bread and stews cooked with vegetables and meat. Fresh milk and butter features in many authentic Eastern African foods. So is coconut milk curry and a variety of spices.

Variations are plentiful, due to ethnic and religious influences, especially contacts of these indigenous African populations with Arabs from the Horn of Africa and Arabian world.

Meat eaten by those in Somalia for example is mainly halal, meaning it must be slaughtered alive and the blood poured to the ground. Already dead animals are not eaten, neither is pork or meal served with alcohol.

Because of the largely nomadic life styles seen in this region, main meals are eaten mostly twice and sometimes thrice, though with rapidly urbanization, most working class people have three square meals.

Like the typical African food, preparation time for some of these meals can take up anything between 1 – 5 hours per meal. A good example is the Cambuulo, prepared from Azuki beans that may take up to five hours to boil to attain the desired tenderness in Somalia.

Barring variations from region to region, a three times a day meal will be made up of:


A typical East African food breakfast would consist of specially baked bread called lahooh, or canjeera in Somali and Somaliland, Chapati in Kenya and Uganda, eaten with vegetable stew, sour porridge like the Kenyan uji. Breakfast from sour milk and ground cereals are not uncommon amongst the nomadic population.

Amongst the Kikuyu speaking people of Kenya, Githeri, made from corn and beans or Irio made from mashed potatoes and maize is common for breakfast. Similar to this is the Mokoro .


Lunch is the most important East African food of the day. Traditionally, this would be served in the late afternoons. It is usually a heavy meal. Yes. You eat your lunch like a king. Again, like most African foods, it consists mainly of mashed starchy meals made from gains and tubers. Depending on regions, plainly boiled basmati rice, eaten with vegetable stews and fish or meat to ground corn meals, mixed with potatoes like the Irio and Githeri or even Ughali in Kenya is common.


Dinner in East Africa is often not different from what could be eaten as lunch, except that a meal for lunch today could be cooked in smaller quantity and served as dinner tomorrow. Light meals though abound.

Kuku Paka, a delicious blend of chicken coconut curry, served with rice, or Cambuulo made from cooked beans, sugar and butter served with bread or rice is common in East African recipe.

All these meals served are often served with a blend of fresh fruits or sweets. Some sweets are fashioned after Arabian or Indian sweets, consistent with Arabian and Indian influences in the development of East African Cuisines.

For specific countries in the East of Africa, see:

Somalian foods

Kenyan Foods

Ugandan Foods

Tanzanian Foods.

Please do not hesitate to send your contribution to us here at Africanfoods.co.uk to add up to the growing list of East African foods.

For more on East African foods, why not get these books on East African foods from Amazon.com.

See our book review on Cooking the East African Way - East African foods .


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