The thought of yellow beans in a decadent coconut sauce paired with chapati takes most of us back to mama’s cooking or our favourite local restaurant when it was still open.
This is a dish so popular that food delivery service Uber Eats named it as one of Kenya’s favourite healthy meals to get delivered on the app.
“We put together an Uber Eats Local Craving Report that showed what are the most popular items that have been ordered in Nairobi where we operate over the last few months. Interestingly, as Kenyans, fried chicken, and chips are increasingly popular but there’s also a movement to being healthier. So we’re seeing a high appetite for yellow beans coconut chapati and chicken salads,” said Nadeem Anjarwalla, the general manager Kenya, Uber Eats in an interview with BDLife.
Going out for a meal was the norm until restaurants and hotels were forced to shut their doors, few opting for delivery, to contain the spread of coronavirus.
As the days stretched into weeks then into months, the option of delivering food has become a necessary line of business for restaurants to reach their customers.
Other eateries took on the face of virtual restaurants that provides delivery-only options available for orders.
“From a restaurant’s perspective, we are seeing a shift to virtual restaurants and the Uber Eats platform provides a great opportunity for restaurants to be able to expand with lower capital expenditure, being a bit more flexible and agile with their consumers,” adds Nadeem.
Previously, more Kenyans sought out decadent meals, greasy junk food from their favourite restaurants. But, according to Uber Eats data, the restriction of movement was the beginning of new lifestyle choices by Kenyans.
“We’ve seen how important it is for people to feel good about what they eat and order, driving an even greater increase in socially-conscious and health-conscious dining. What started as a trend last year has become even more mainstream, with meat substitutes continuing to gain in popularity, and eaters looking to enjoy foods that contain added health benefits —like flax seeds,” says Nadeem.
In its 2020 Foodcast report, Uber Eats indicated that when it comes to online food orders, this year, an overwhelming majority of Kenyans opted for chicken-based meals, followed by Chinese and Italian cuisine, including pizza.
“Since Covid-19 started, we’ve seen nearly 227 percent increase in this the search for healthy food, it’s doubled since January 2020. And things like the to a turmeric gold and detox salad also now becoming increasingly on from a food trend perspective,” says Nadeem.
With most gyms still closed, there has been a push for healthier meals and home fitness to keep away the ‘corona body.’
“Kenyans love good food, especially meals that are healthy, vibrant in colour and taste delicious. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been a steep increase in food orders that is fresh, organic and health-conscious, proving that locals are making generous steps towards achieving healthier lifestyles,” he adds.
Uber Eats data further showed that the keyword ‘healthy’ grew by a massive 227 percent from customer searches further solidifying the trend towards living leaner and greener.
“Vegetable Dim Sum and spring rolls were among the most popular snacks ordered while the immunity booster smoothies were a fan favourite drink, proving that every meal and beverage was given a healthy overhaul by locals,” said Uber Eats.
There has also been an increase in the demand for online services with orders through other food delivery apps such as Jumia Food.
The delivery option has offered a lifeline for restaurants and hotels across the city.
During the lockdown, chicken and barbeque led the top 10 cuisines ordered on Jumia Food, according to Shreenal Ruparelia, chief commercial officer, Jumia On Demand Services, Africa.
This was followed by burgers, continental dishes, pizza, healthy food and salads, groceries, Kenyan dishes Chinese food, pasta, and Indian cuisine.
Burgers are also popular, with variations being the removal of tomatoes and the addition of a cheese slice. For UberEats, bacon cheeseburger was a close second followed by the grilled chicken burger
“Burgers are the meal for any type of day and go down great at any time. Locally, the most popular ordering time is 1 pm with thousands of orders coming through, while dinnertime at 6 pm was a close second,” says the Uber Eats report.
Kenyans may be purists in the preparation of their burgers—which is a simple sesame coated bun, a grilled patty (not fried) a dash of mayo, and chili to complete the burger—the same cannot be said about the sides.
From cheesy fries, curly fries or skinny fries, they prefer ham on the accompaniments to the simple burger that may feature an extra slice of cheese.
Other top healthy items most ordered online in April include grilled sweetcorn, hummus, shish taouk, baba ganoush, and tabbouleh. Most of these dishes have Middle-Eastern roots and work as snacks or meals.
Other restaurants not relying on shared platforms have also been offering their delivery apps and options including collection at the restaurant. The fact that workers in food are essential workers has also facilitated the delivery of food after curfew hours, which have since been extended.
New models have sprouted online including those by The Dinner Box that delivers a meal kit to their customers at a pre-set price for a set number of people. The kits include all the ingredients to make the meal weighed out and portioned as well as a recipe card with instructions on how to make the dish and how long it will take.
Bakeries such as Crumble & Co are sending clients baking kits on request. The kits include all ingredients already weighed out and labelled alphabetically with an instruction card on how to combine the ingredients. This allows the bakery to maintain trade secrets while still delivering the products to customers who may be skeptical to buy a finished product due to coronavirus fears.
Similarly, restaurants with a physical presence have come up with food clubs for their patrons, where customers pay a membership fee and are sent meal and cocktail packages for the same.
For instance, Pepper Tree has a cocktail club where one can subscribe for a one-off, two weeks, or a month to receive bespoke cocktails to their doorstep. This involves filling in a questionnaire on tastes and preferences in the cocktail which shall then be sent to you.
The increase in orders for food and groceries has also been accompanied by a rise in the orders for alcoholic beverages. This mimics the norm in dining out where meals are accompanied by a glass of wine or cocktail and in the more recent days, scotch or cognac, or any other spirit drink.
At the beginning of the lockdown, Glovo had indicated an increase of about five times the normal demand for the service for booze and groceries.