Sukuma wiki – It’s what’s for dinner

We had the luck of meeting a Kenyan family here in Grand Rapids through Grand Valley. Genevieve Sabala-Molenje is a graduate assistant here at GVSU and heard about our upcoming trip to Kenya. I had coffee with her and her husband, Levi Molenje, to get some travel tips. Levi earned his undergraduate degree from Kenyatta University where I will be teaching. It turns out that Levi and I were both graduate students at Syracuse University at the same time – Levi in math education, me at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry. We have some friends in common from our time in Syracuse and our paths must have crossed at some point. Genevieve was also a parent-advocate in one of the Syracuse schools where my wife Jen was completing her school psychology internship. It is a small world.

Levi, Genevieve, and their three children came over to our house recently to show us how to make a traditional Kenyan dish – sukuma wiki. It’s a tasty, yet simple, way to use whatever vegetables you have around the house – kind of like a Kenyan version of a casserole. We sautéed spinach with onions, tomatoes, and carrots in some olive oil. Genevieve brought along a traditional Kenyan seasoning called roiki which is similar to beef bouillon but less salty. The vegetables are served with a cornmeal cake called ugali. Ugali is very similar to polenta. You can break off a piece of ugali, mold it into a little scoop with your (right) hand, and scoop up the vegetables. The sukuma wiki was delicious and even our kids enjoyed it. We had a wonderful dinner with Levi and Genevieve, and our kids all got along very well.

Here is a recipe for sukuma wiki if anyone wants to try it:

Sukuma wiki and ugali

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