Cooking – the East African way

A big part of my life is being East African. Actually if I want to be correct i’m actually English-East African-Indian. I’m as English as they come from being born and raised here (if I swear like an English person, speak like one and went to school here I’m bloody English ok). The East African is due to my dad being born and brought up in Kenya and my mum was raised in Uganda from a young age.  The Indian comes from my grandparents and beyond who were pure Indian. The grandparents decided to move to East Africa when they were young to start a new life and to make the most of the opportunities that were available there (kind of like me living in Dubai).

It seems to be a huge problem for many people I have met over the years (yes I’m talking about you horrible German girl) to accept that I say I’m English-East African-Indian. I think it’s perfectly plausible and there are a hell of a lot of us out there thanks to that dickwad Idi Amin.

Indians think we are either backwards or terrible as they think we deny we are Indian. We don’t really deny our heritage; it’s just that most of us don’t have a true connection to India. If you ask most people who are from East Africa, our childhood wasn’t spent going to India it was spent going to Kenya to visit our family. We are only now deciding to go to India to finally see where we came from, but as tourists.

I had the great joy (I’m being sarcastic) of living in Kenya for one year when I was 16 as my dad decided that it would be a good idea to be back with his family. The fact that we stayed there for one year only speaks volumes of what a massive mistake that was. It wasn’t really due to the country (although it seems to be more and more of a disaster zone than what I remember when I was young) but mainly due to certain members of my family. But let’s not go down that path of bitterness.

Anyway a big part of our East African lives, which I love, is our food. It’s a mixture of India, East African and dollops of coconut. There is spiciness without burning your stomach. It’s not easy to describe but I love our food. The big problem is that we don’t have many recipe books out there for us. The Ismaili Muslims who have a big congregation in East Africa have published a few books which we have got copies of (thanks to half our family and having various friends who are Ismaili). However these books don’t always have all the recipes I love cooking and eating.

Saviour has come in the form of a blog from a lady called Chachi who has a wide and extensive collection of recipes from the East African Indian community. With additions from other readers it’s become a new reading staple for my parents (who discovered the site) and I.  If you are interested her site is


Once I get back to Dubai and have some time to myself I will be cooking some of the dishes for friends to show some true East African love.

14 August 2011 – discovered another blog which has some more East African receipes – Sabihas Kitchen

2 thoughts on “Cooking – the East African way

  1. Mita Ray says:

    Can’t wait to try your East African-Indian food – yeah, baby! I have ‘coconut’ cousins too that have the same problem.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hear your point…. People get very confused when I say I’m East African and not indo/pak. 🙂
    I ask ‘ iz it cuz i aint black that you think i cant be african’

    And agree with the coooking… east afican ‘indian’ is all about flavour.

    Also… not to sound stalker-ish… my parents also born in Uganda but lived their life in Nairobi.. I however was hatched in the UK.

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