Nyama Mama

Nyama Mama is a fun, modern day African roadside diner offering a menu full of diversity and bold flavours with a modern twist.

 

Inspired by Mama’s travels across Africa, the eclectic décor appeals to both locals and tourists alike. We asked owners Ninaa and Jay Shanghavi to tell us about their Nairobi restaurant.

 

Nyama Mama is so vibrant and full of life, can you tell us where the original idea for the restaurant came from?

Ninaa:
Nyama Mama is all about celebrating Kenyan culture, its tastes and way of life.

We wanted this to be reflected in our food, cocktails and interiors. We very much wanted to be a modern snapshot of today’s Kenyan culture, referencing everything people grew up with but with a fresh twist.

Where do you find your inspiration for the dishes and how often do you update the menu?

Jay:
Inspiration comes from everywhere in a country that is rich in flavoursome fruit and vegetables, combined with a rich cultural heritage. There is always an opportunity to reinterpret classics, as well as invent new combinations.

Revising the menu is a constant process – we never stop experimenting! Changes can come from Chef’s seasonal new items to everyday replacements.

We understand that the support and development of the local community is key for the Nyama Mama brand. Would you tell us about some of the things you have done involving the local community?

Ninaa:
Of course. Championing artisan development is very important to us. Local craftsmen and women, contractors, labourers and fundis (handymen) have all collaborated to lay the foundations of Mama’s new home at Delta Towers.

We also use locally sourced materials and ingredients, and our chefs are from Kenya!

In keeping with this, we are focused on supporting emerging musical talent, giving young unknown artists a space to perform.

The interior design of the restaurant is fabulously eclectic. Where did the inspiration for the design come from?

Ninaa:
The décor is inspired by Mama’s travels across Africa, pulling vibrant colours, African fabrics and nostalgic adornments together. We wanted our customers to feel like they are right at home, or at their grandma’s place. From splashes of Kitenge fabric and old-school leather couches, to a series of artworks about the streets of Kenya, Mama’s vision was to create a space that brings out Kenya’s vivacious urban culture but not forgetting our roots.

Throughout the space you get a glimpse into Mama’s kitchen as well, from packets of Unga (flour), to pots and pans adorning the shelves.

How did you source the quirky fixtures and fittings?

Ninaa:
Sourcing items is a full-time job! We are constantly on the lookout for retro elements that can enhance the space.

Your cocktail selection looks amazing! What makes them so special – are there any magic ingredients?

Jay:
It’s a winning combination of fresh ingredients, good quality alcohol and of course, innovative presentation. It’s all in the experience. When it comes to magical ingredients, we love a little bit of spice to shake things up!

We noticed you have a Friday and Saturday late-night menu from 11pm ‘til 4am! What is the uptake in the early hours of the morning?

Ninaa:
The late-night menu is hugely popular! It focuses on great tasting comfort foods.

Are there plans to expand the brand further in 2018?

Jay:
Absolutely. We have a larger outlet opening at the beginning of 2018 in Nairobi. It is specifically dedicated to travellers and tourists wanting a feel for modern Kenyan cuisine.

Nyama Mama is vibrant and full of life
Reinterpreting classics at Nyama Mama

Would you share a recipe for one of your popular dishes with us?

Ugali Fries

Ingredients for Ugali fries:

  • 250g maize flour
  • 1lt water
  • 15g butter
  • 5g salt
  • 2.5g white pepper

Ingredients for Ugali seasoning:

  • Combine salt, chili powder and oregano

Ingredients for garlic sauce:

  • 200ml mayonnaise
  • 10g roasted garlic cloves
  • 80ml sour cream
  • 2g salt
  • 10ml lemon juice

Combine ingredients in a blender and mix thoroughly until a smooth consistency is achieved.

 

Method:

  1. Boil water, add butter, salt & pepper.
  2. Add maize flour and stir until a thick dough-like/firm consistency is achieved.
  3. Mould on a sheet/baking tray and cool overnight in the fridge.
  4. Portion into desired shapes.
  5. Fry In hot oil until golden and crispy.
  6. Drain off excess oil on kitchen paper towel.
  7. Season well with Ugali seasoning.
  8. Serve as desired with garlic dip.