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Nyama Choma

Nyama Choma is essentially roasted meat and is an integral part of Kenyan cuisine. In Kiswahili, “Nyama” is meat and “choma” means roasted. Therefore, any meat can be used for this dish as long as it is cooked by the process of roasting, be it goat meat, lamb meat or even cow meat. Nyama Choma pairs well with Ugali i.e. maize flour or cornmeal porridge and native Kenyan Beer.

Incidentally the Nyama Choma is symbolic of social bonding as this is a food that is typically enjoyed in the company of friends. Owing to its immense popularity and wide patronage, Nyama Choma is today regarded as the National dish of Kenya.

Ingredients and Preparation

Nyama Choma is a recipe that features the innovative use of curry powder in the meat marinade. Although any meat maybe employed for the purpose, beef short ribs are a particular favorite among most Kenyans. Other ingredients are:

  • beef short ribs – (or any other meat suitable for roasting may be used)
  • minced garlic cloves
  • lemon juice
  • curry powder (In Kenya, ‘Simba Mbili’, a superior brand of curry powder, is preferred)
  • turmeric powder
  • coriander powder
  • paprika powder
  • salt & black pepper

Lemon juice, garlic and spices are combined together and meat is marinated by coating well with this mixture and leaving for at least about an hour. The longer meat is marinated, the better the final product would taste. The meat pieces are then fire-roasted till cooked through either on a flaming grill or hot charcoals. This would impart the grilled, smoky effect to the meat and allow it to cook to tenderness in its own fats and juices. Modern day methods of broiling in the oven may also be employed.

Nutrition Information

A single serving of Nyama Choma i.e. about 340 g supplies-

  • 1759.9 calories with calories from fat being 1479
  • Total Fat content is 164.3 g and saturated fat is 71.4 g
  • Cholesterol content is 344.7 mg
  • Total carbohydrate content is 0 g
  • Sodium content is 222.9 mg.
  • Protein content is 65.3 g.

Since this is a purely meat based preparation, it is high in calories, fat and cholesterol as well as proteins. Hence its consumption is advisable in restricted amounts. Red meats are a good source of essential amino acids and several minerals like Iron and calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and other trace minerals like selenium and zinc. It is also a good source of Vitamin B 12. However, the fibre that is lacking in this item needs to be provided through supplemental foods.

Nutritional Improvement

1. Use of lean meat cuts may help lower the total and saturated fat content.

2. Sodium content may be lowered by totally eliminating salt and using lime juice instead to flavour the meat.

3. Leftovers from the Nyama Choma is commonly incorporated into Sukuma Wiki which is basically a dish made of Kale or collard greens. In this manner the fibre content, Vitamin A, C, K, folate as well as iron and calcium levels of the dish may be increased to a considerable extent.

Suggested Accompaniments

  • Fresh cooked greens or a fresh crunchy tomato-onion salad known as ‘Kachumbari’ in East and South African cuisine to increase fibre value.
  • A tall glass of lemon juice would supply Vitamin C that promotes the absorption of Iron from red meats.