Most Kenyans think Mexican food is very spicy. But the food mostly made with paprika, cilantro, cumin is gaining a following, especially in Nairobi.
“Enchiladas are a perfect way to introduce someone to Mexican cuisine. It is made up of a tortilla, rolled around a filling covered with a sauce. Enchiladas can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including different meats, cheese, beans, potatoes, vegetables or a combination of all of them. It is quite filling,” says Chef Matthias Semkiwa of Sabor A’ Mexico restaurant in Nairobi.
Our lunch visit had us indulge in various Mexican meals including tejano combo (meat and chicken served on a sizzling plate cooked with onions, red, and yellow peppers), arrozo (plain Mexican rice), tortilla, with guacamole and bean sauce, as well as churros with a chocolate dip for dessert.
“Mexican rice is prepared using home-made tomato paste which we make here and this is how it achieves its orangish colour,” adds Chef Matthias.
Sabor restaurant was opened three years ago. At first, patrons were reluctant to try out Mexican cuisine.
“We had to lure diners with free ice cream which made people initially come to our restaurant and after some time, we managed to slowly introduce them to Mexican cuisine. The grilled chicken is a best-selling,” says Kezia Kimeu, the chief operations officer.
With a growing well-travelled population, international cuisines are finding comfort in Nairobi restaurants. There is Mercado Mexican Kitchen and Bar and Fonda NB which are serving Mexican dishes.
But where do these restaurants source for their ingredients?
“Most of the ingredients used in Mexican cuisines are easy for us to find here. Items such as cheese, vegetables and beans are necessary in Mexican food. These are ingredients we are able to find locally. What makes our Mexican food different is that we have incorporated Kenyan flavours in Mexican dishes. For instance, instead of cilantro, we use coriander which is an ingredient easily found in many Kenyan homes. All our sauces are also home-made,” adds Chef Matthias.
Many dishes in the menu have cheese and sometimes the chef has to explain to diners why the food smells the way it does.
“Dishes that have mature cheddar, gouda or blue cheese waft off a light cheesy smell which some patrons may not be familiar with,” says Kezia.
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