Sukuma wiki is such a staple dish on many Kenyan households tables to the point where it evokes such fond and nostalgic memories in those who travel out of the country.
The popularity of sukuma wiki is due to a few things.
- Wide spread availability through out all the corners of the country, almost all communities farm this vegetable.
- Its affordability, a bunch of sukuma wiki costs Ksh. 20 ($ 0.20).
Kenyan sukuma wiki recipes vary ever so slightly from household to household. Some families love their sukuma wiki recipe with some meat. Others like it as plain old sukuma wiki and ugali to make a complete meal. While others prefer their sukuma wiki recipe with an egg stew.
In Kenya, the favourite or common accompaniment to sukuma wiki is ugali, so you’ll always hear this phrase quite often, “sukuma wiki and ugali”. It’s almost like saying peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I like it when my sukuma wiki is mixed with a bit of spinach because of two reasons; first spinach has such a fantastic flavour and secondly it cooks much faster that sukuma wiki, therefore, it cuts down dramatically on the cooking time. If you prefer plain sukuma wiki then by all means, go ahead and enjoy as is. Just bear in mind that it will take slightly longer to soften.
Spicing up your sukuma wiki is a highly personal choice. In my case, I do not add spices. Not even curry powder which, by the way, is like one of my all time favourite spice mix. I do not even like ginger and garlic in my sukuma wiki, because, in my opinion I feel like they tend to overpower the sukuma flaovur.
When it comes to herbs, well, that is a totally different story. I love herbs in my sukuma vegetable. I add dhania and green hohos almost every time. I have also experimented with other herbs like oregano and thyme and the results were finger licking good!! At the end of the day, when it comes to seasoning your sukuma wiki, do you!! Word of caution: please, start off by using fresh green herbs because their flavour is milder; and if you decide that you like them in your sukuma wiki then you can incorporate the dried herbs because they are more available than their fresh counterparts.
So how do you retain the vibrant green colour of your sukuma wiki?
There are several theories out there on how to achieve this and I will share some of them;
- Wash your sukuma wiki leaves and remove the central, hard, fibrous vein but do not chop them. Blanch them in water that has magadi soda (bicarbonate of soda) for about a minute then shock them in ice cold water. The magadi soda will help fix the green colour. After this, go ahead chop the leaves up to your desired size and sautee as usual – just remember not to cook them for too long because they are already partially cooked.
- Others believe in not covering the sukuma wiki as it cooks. I must admit that this method also does work, just that I find like it take a bit longer that I would like.
- My all time favourite, cover the sukuma wiki for just a few minutes so that the sukuma wiki cooks faster from the accumulation of steam in the sufuria. Cooking sukuma wiki for extended periods of time is guaranteed to turn it into an unattractive olive green colour.
Please watch the video below to get a clearer picture of how I make my sukuma wiki; If you prefer a written recipe, please, go right below this video.
How to cook or prepare sweet Kenyan sukuma wiki that is full of flavour. This recipe uses fresh ingredients that make the entire dish quite vibrant.
- 2 Bunches Sukuma wiki - about 30 leaves
- 1 Bunch Spinach - between 15 - 20 leaves
- 2 Medium sized and fully ripe tomatoes - cut them up into small pieces
- 1 Medium sized onion - finely diced
- 1/4 Finely diced green hoho / bell pepper - optional
- 1 Bunch dhania /coriander leaves - optional
- 2 Tbsp Sunflower oil - or any of your favourite neutral oils
- salt to taste
Wash and cut up the sukuma wiki and spinach into your desired size.
Add oil to the sufuria, once it comes up to temperature add the onions and sautee until just translucent.
Add tomatoes and salt to taste, stir, reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer, cover and leave for about five minutes for tomatoes to soften and release their juices.
Add the sukuma wiki and spinach together with the hohos, mix, cover and leave to simmer for about five minutes.
Finally add the dhania (if using), check for seasoning and turn off the heat
The most common accompaniment, in terms of starch, is ugali, but you can go ahead and serve with your favourite starch. Rice or chapat.
- If you are a spice loving person you could add your favourite spices to the sukuma wiki to enhance flavour.
- Spinach is not 100% essential to this recipe, if you do not like it leave it out and cook three bunches of sukuma wiki instead.