Beef Tumbukiza Recipe

Beef Tumbukiza Recipe

The holiday season is upon us once again; merry making, hangover mornings are expected for some. This beef tumbukiza is the perfect pick me up guaranteed to hit the spot and rejuvenate you!

Let me start by explaining what tumbukiza is for those of us who are non Swahili speakers. Direct translation of tumbukiza is “submerge”. So, it follows that tumbukiza refers to food that is submerged in lots of braising liquid and cooked over an extended period of time.

The best cuts of meat for this type of cooking are the ones are big, tough and inexpensive. They have a lot of connective tissues, they are good because once they cook they end up being juicy and tender. All that collagen that comprises the connective tissues breaks down and becomes gelatinous, resulting in meltingly fork tender meat.

I used beef brisket for my tumbukiza recipe. This is a cut of meat that comes from the breast area of a cow, meaning that it gets a lot of exercise because it is always offering support to the cow as it moves around.

I’ve always maintained that browning of the meat before slow cooking it as tumbukiza is really a personal choice. I choose not to, you could brown yours if it rocks your culinary boat. The choice of vegetables and spices or herbs is also highly personal because some people like it when their tumbukiza is very basic – meaning just onions, tomatoes, dhania, potatoes and that’s it. While other go to town with their tumbukiza. I love it when mine has very mild spicy tones because over the top spicy soup from the tumbukiza is off putting.

The choice of where to cook your tumbukiza is up to you. You could bake it in the oven, slow cook it on the jiko or go the pressure cooker way. At the end of the day, as long as the results are soft, tender and melting in your mouth, you have hit the nail on the head.Beef Tumbukiza Recipe

The only other information I feel I should impart before getting to the recipe itself is the choice of vegetables. The norm is to use veggies that have large leaves. The most common being spinach, cabbage or sukuma wiki. I would not advise you to go for veggies like terere, managu, etc. Their small leaves will not come out too well.

Here’s the video of how I went about making this amazing tumbukiza, or you could skip right to the written recipe below it.

Beef Tumbukiza Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 10 mins

Tumbukiza is a  Kenyan one pot meal that offers the comfort and pleasures of home cooking. Tumbukiza normally contains a protein, starch and vegetable all in one pot or sufuria. It's also very handy during those hang over days, magical cure right there!

Cuisine: Kenyan
Author: Kalyonge Agnes
  • 1.8 kg Beef brisket
  • 5 Garlic cloves - Leave whole
  • 3 " Ginger - Crush slightly
  • 3 Tomatoes - Divided into quarters
  • 4 Onions - Divided into wedges
  • Salt to taste
Whole spices put in a spice infuser *Check notes
  • 3/4 tsp Black pepper corns
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp White pepper corns
  • 1 Star anise
  • 7 Cardamom pods
  • 6 Potatoes - Medium sized cut in halves
  • 3 Carrots - Medium sized divided in to thirds
  • 1/4 Large cabbage - Peel off each leaf separately
  1. Trim any excess fat that might be on the beef brisket and then place it in a sufuria that is large enough to accommodate it.

  2. Add the garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes and the spice infuser in to the sufuria along with enough water to cover the brisket.

  3. Cover and place on a stove that is heated on moderate and leave to simmer for about an hour and a half. 

  4. Add the dhania, potatoes, carrots and hohos to the sufuria. Check on the water levels, if they have dropped low add more to cover the top of the beef.

  5. Then place the cabbage leaves on the tumbukiza in a manner resembling the act of spreading bed sheets. This helps them cook faster because of the steam that will be trapped beneath them.

  6. With thirty minutes remaining to the end of cooking time, uncover and pull the cabbages leaves to the sides and in to the tumbukiza soup so that they can absorb the flavour.

  7. Cover and leave the tumbukiza to simmer for a further fifteen minutes then add some more dhania leaves and turn off the heat. 

  8. Serve with a starch of your choice and enjoy!

Recipe Notes
  1. Any vegetable that is used for the tumbukiza should be left in huge chunks because of the prolonged cooking time. If cut up too small they'll disappear into the dish after hopelessly mushing up.
  2. I use a whole spice infuser because of convenience. It helps to impart the flavour of the spices into the tumbukiza without the hassle of fishing them out later. If you do not have a spice infuser, you can use a clean cotton cloth (make sure the colour doesn't run) put all the spices in there and tie it up like a purse. Mission accomplished.
  3. If you do not have beef brisket then any other tough cut of meat with lots of connective tissues will do. Like for instance, top side, shoulder, neck, etc.



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