In Kenya, the leafy plant, colewort is more commonly called sukuma wiki, and is often referred to as collard greens. This traditional recipe is simple to prepare and uses few ingredients, but the finished dish is extremely tasty and satisfying!
The Republic of Kenya is located it East Africa and has coastline on the Indian Ocean. The Kenyan capital (and largest) city is Nairobi and the country has a population of approximately 48 million as of January 2017. Kenya has a varied climate; it is tropical on its coastline, cooler in the savannah grasslands and features permanent snow on its tallest peaks. Although Kenya has the largest and most advanced economy in East and Central Africa, it also has high rates of poverty. Agriculture is the predominant industry and employs 75% of the workforce, but despite this, it is underdeveloped and largely inefficient.
Kenyans eat very few processed foods and their diet mainly consists of inexpensive but filling foods. Inland, staple foods include maize, potatoes and beans with meat. Those who live on the coast have a more varied diet that includes fish. Meals tend to be homemade, simple and with produce that is grown locally.
Sukuma wiki is a typical Kenyan dish; simple with few ingredients and packed full of nutrients. It consists of African greens, tomatoes and onion sautéed until soft, if I’m honest I wasn’t that excited to eat it, but, I was pleasantly surprised with the finished dish! Raw collard greens have a slightly bitter taste to them, but sautéing softens them and when cooked with the tomato and onion they have a softer, more pleasant, flavor profile.
Collard greens are from the same family as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and turnips – you can probably guess already that they are amazingly good for you! They are full of nutrients including vitamins A, C and K and are low in calories. This is definitely something you should be adding to your diet, and this sukuma wiki dish is an amazing and quick way to do just that.
The finished dish is full of flavor and texture and makes for a really satisfying dish that is definitely going to be making an appearance in our house again. To create a fuller meal, you could easily add some cooked chicken or beef to the greens, or for more texture, you could add different vegetables such as bell pepper or carrots. I’m going to add some garlic and chili flakes the next time I make it to make a really flavorsome side. Sukuma wiki is a great basic recipe that would be easy to adapt to your own personal tastes.
This time around, I decided to pair the sukuma wiki with another traditional Kenyan dish, ugali. Ugali is about as simple as a recipe can get, maize flour mixed with boiling water and stirred until a stiff, firm dough has formed. Ugali can also be made using millet or sorghum flour and the water can be substituted with milk. A word of warning when making ugali at home – it will give your arms a good workout! As the dough stiffens, it becomes increasingly hard to stir, but dig deep and keep at it!
Ugali was a perfect dish to serve alongside the sukuma wiki to create a filling and nutritious meal. The texture of the cooked ugali is smooth and dumpling like with very little flavor. It’s perfect to scoop up some sukuma wiki to add variety to the texture, and a small amount goes a long way.
We were very surprised at how much we enjoyed the sukuma wiki and ugali, and it is easy to see why these two dishes are a staple of a traditional Kenyan diet. The two dishes together are full of nutrients and the carbohydrates in the ugali mean that you are satisfied and stay full for longer. Simple and cheap to make, yet tasty, satisfying and healthy, this is one dish that will definitely be revisited!
- 2 lb sukuma greens (collard greens), chopped
- 1 onion , chopped
- 2 tomatoes , chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cups corn flour
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon margarine (optional)
- Pinch salt
Heat oil in a large pan. When hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent.
- Add tomato and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add collard greens and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add ½ cup of water and then salt to taste. Let the mixture simmer until the collard greens have reached the desired tenderness, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Serve warm with ugali (recipe below)
In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil then add the margarine and salt. Slowly add the corn flour then wait for the water to come to a boil again.
Using a wooden spoon, start stirring and reduce the heat to medium when the consistency thickens. This process should take between 10 to 20 minutes as you slowly add more corn flour.
- Continue cooking until the dough pulls away from the pan and becomes very thick.