Food festival opens in Lamu this weekend

Meat kebab spiced with masala and grilled chicken. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU

What you need to know:

  • There will also be a wide variety of other traditional Swahili foods coming from various indigenous communities such as the Bajun and Boni or Aweer among others.

Over the Easter weekend, the one place that will offer a rich and diverse cultural and culinary experience is Lamu Island where the first Food Expo and Festival Friday opens this morning and runs through to Monday evening.

In keeping with Lamu County Governor Issa Timamy’s commitment to making the county’s second largest island ‘The Island of Festivals’, the Food Expo and Festival will follow on from the previous events that have already taken place successfully this year.

Swahili foods

These include the Lamu Cultural Festival, Maulid Festival, Lamu Painters Festival, Lamu Yoga Festival and now the first Food Festival which will feature not only Kenya’s most famous Swahili foods such as bhajia, samosa, pilau and chapati, all of which derive from the Indian sub-continent, brought by Asian migrant workers and traders since the late 19th century.

There will also be a wide variety of other traditional Swahili foods coming from various indigenous communities such as the Bajun and Boni or Aweer among others.

There will also be tasty sweets available at the Expo, at many of the food vendors’ stands and even coming out of the cooking classes that will be held throughout the weekend.

They will include Mai a Ngamba originally from Lamu, Malalande from Matondoni, Vyakula vya Mkono from Shela, and many more.

Organised by the Lamu County Government in partnership with the National Museums of Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross and various other local groups, the Lamu Food Expo and Festival will take place all the way from the Lamu Fort and the Swahili House Museum to Matondoni and Shela villages to the open sea where there will be a fishing competition on Sunday, March 5th.

Cooking classes

The first day of the festival will launch the Food Expo which will run all four days in Mkunguni; but there will also be several several Swahili cooking classes in Shela, a Swahili Kitchen show at Lamu Museum and a StrEAT Bazaar where outdoor food vendors will set up shop along the seafront from 6:30pm until 10pm every night.

Saturday will be jam packed with culinary activities including a food investors’ forum at the Mwana Arafa Hall, more Swahili cooking classes including a cooking competition from 4-6pm with an awards ceremony taking place in the evening following the Festival’s official opening at the Lamu Fort. Lamu’s leading musicians, Zein L’Abdn will perform with his band into the night.

Then on Sunday, the Fishing Competition will start early with the biggest fish earning their fishermen awards in the late afternoon.

There will also be food tours around the island, more cooking classes, food displays and a live cooking show from 5pm over which one of the leading Swahili chefs, Chef Ali Mandhry will preside.

Finally, on the last day there will be the annual Donkey Pageant at the sea front where ‘Mr and Mrs Donkey’ will be selected from the most attractive donkeys in Lamu town. The Food Expo and Display will continue to late afternoon before concluding until 2016.

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