Here’s an omena recipe that went to 'Group of Schools’

Omena
Omena

Imagine a bowl filled with saucy omena, luxuriously adorned with a creamy finish and a vibrant sprinkle of onions.

Five star hotels in Nairobi are welcoming a humble yet often overlooked seafood delicacy to their menus — silver cyprinid, also known as the Lake Victoria sardine.

Traditionally relegated to the sidelines of culinary prestige, these small, oily fish are now taking centre stage as chefs and food enthusiasts explore their versatility and health benefits.

It's not just a dish; it's a direct journey back to your kitchen, reminiscent of cozy fireside evenings in the countryside.

Now, picture experiencing that same warmth and nostalgic taste elevated with elegance in an upmarket restaurant. This is comfort meeting sophistication in a single, delectable bowl.

Ethical dining

Omena are not only gaining popularity for their distinct taste but also for their nutritional value. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals, these small fish are considered a powerhouse of nutrients. Additionally, omena are environmentally sustainable, with many species being resilient to overfishing, aligning with the growing trend of responsible and ethical dining.

The Radisson Blu Upper Hill Larder restaurant recently launched its menu spotlighting local delicacies — a nostalgic journey to flavours reminiscent of home. Executive Chef Wayne Walkinshaw, along with the culinary team, orchestrated a culinary masterpiece that skillfully blended traditional holiday favourites with inventive creations.

“We're bringing local recipes to the forefront, infusing them with a touch of sophistication and creativity. It's a culinary journey that merges the comfort of tradition with the excitement of upmarket dining,” said chef Wayne.

Complementing the savory delights are sides and accompaniments that not only tantalise taste buds.

The menu boasted an array of delectable dishes that catered to diverse palates with different verse selection that caters to a range of tastes. Creamed spinach, roasted butternut, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower cheese provide a luxurious complement to the main courses.

The savory delights extend to a tantalizing variety, including Batata Vada, whole roast pork shoulder, kienyeji chicken koroga, and mbuzi choma (roast goat meat)with rosemary, lime, and garlic. Each dishwas an harmonious blend of flavours, capturing the essence of gastronomic indulgence.

“Our aim is to not only provide a delightful experience for our international guests but also to showcase the rich tapestry of local products. We want our clients to step into our space and feel like they are at home, fostering a sense of warmth and community that goes beyond the typical restaurant setting. It's about creating an atmosphere where patrons can enjoy a meal, connect, and leave satisfied,” he said.

Dishes that tell a story

According to chef Wayne, the decision to bring locals' recipes to the upmarket scene is not merely a culinary innovation but a dedication to preserving and sharing cultural heritage.

“Each dish tells a story, and through this venture, the restaurant aims to celebrate the rich tapestry of flavors passed down through generations,” he said.

Among the diverse offerings, the inclusion of pumpkin chapati, mahindi choma, and omena adds a local touch, connecting the menu to the culinary roots of the region. The authenticity of these dishes adds to the festive ambiance, creating an immersive experience for patrons.

The omena and ugali was my favourite which transported me to a nostalgic haven, evoking the comforting ambiance of my grandmother’s kitchen in Kitale. As the rich aroma enveloped me, the ugali, with its velvety creaminess, provided the perfect stage for the symphony of flavours unleashed by the expertly seasoned and delicately cooked Omena.

A taste of home

Each bite was a journey through cherished memories, the robust Omena bursting with savory delight against the backdrop of the hearty ugali. The culinary masterpiece didn't just satisfy my taste buds; it ignited a sensory experience that transcended the confines of the restaurant, leaving me enchanted and craving another taste of home.

According to the chef, the establishment offers a diverse dining experience, catering to varied preferences through both à la carte and buffet options.

“Our commitment to culinary excellence extends to both dining formats, ensuring that each dish, whether individually crafted or part of a lavish buffet spread, reflects the highest standards of quality and flavour. Whether guests seek a leisurely dining experience with a carefully curated menu or the freedom to explore a multitude of flavours through our buffet offerings, we take pride in delivering a memorable and delightful experience for all,” he said.

Once associated with simple canned goods or basic appetisers, omena are undergoing a culinary renaissance, capturing the attention of chefs eager to experiment with unique flavours and textures.

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