Food, spices and dance the Swahili way
Saturday, October 9th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
What’s my favourite thing about food expos? Free food samples. Let’s just say, if I was one of the children from the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, the damn witch would have finished me off because, good food is the way to my heart (and I am not even a man).
So, when I heard about the Mombasa Food Festival, that became the plan for the entire weekend.
The three-day event held in celebration of World Tourism Day included two days of food fun at the Mama Ngina Waterfront, and on the third day, a culmination of the event was held at Pride Inn Beach Resort, where 300 beach operators that were trained by the county graduated. But well, here for the food, so…
May I first mention that Mama Ngina Waterfront is such a worthy county investment.
Estimated to have cost about Sh460m (with or without doubt), that spot is a gem.
With a beautiful view of the ocean, it is such a therapeutic treat for the locals, even on regular days.
And it’s completely free entry. I have been here a couple of times, but seeing just how lively the festival made the place, I would fervently propose a food festival every other weekend.
We first had to go round all the tents, just taking it all in. The cooking was happening in every tent; the grilling, deep-frying, and even flambéing (the fire thing is just so exciting to watch).
At this point, of course, we decide to start with some light food – Swahili bhajia is a good option.
This is not the Nairobian type. It’s made from pea flour, mixed up with assorted vegetables. There are also only-pea bhajias, but these are my favourite. The prices are also quite fair; for 50 bob, you get about six pieces, served with homemade chilli sauce, chutney and tamarind sauce (ukwaju).
From this point, I am officially ready for the free samples. Starting from the sweet things, of course. So, we head over to the dates tents. Before we get the samples, we get some good education from the vendor at Rayyan Premium Dates. They are showcasing and selling about eight different kinds of dates.
“Ajwa dates are the first-grade natural medicine for hypertension, diabetes and other diseases, while Ajwa awwal is supportive for the first. Eating three pieces of Ajwa dates in the morning for three days flushes out disease in the body. For children, it can be blended into a juice for easy digestion,” explains the vendor, Abubakar Mohammed.
As a huge dates lover, I, predictably, grabbed the opportunity to have a first-time tasting of fresh dates. While the dry ones change colour to brown and black, fresh ripe dates are yellow in colour, and taste like apples.
I then turn to a couple of homemade doughnuts from Sahaima’s Kitchen – delish! My love for doughnuts, I could barely decide on the one I was gonna pick (free or not, it had to be one). And, I also love chocolate too much.
Back to the meaty spicy things, we are ready for some shawarma and mshikaki (chicken skewers). I even get an opportunity to learn and prepare my own mshikaki bites. Got free samples and paid for others, for just Sh30 per skewer.
Some nice ice cream to wash it all down and we were ready to join the Likoni Gonda Group for a leg-breaking Giriama dance.
Now that this festival was aimed at aiding vendors most affected by the pandemic and a good step towards the full reopening of the industry, I really hope there will be more of such food events, and especially at the Mama Ngina Waterfront. My kind of party!