Mexican cuisine is a global food trend that has seen its popularity grow strength-to-strength thanks to its street food appeal, traditional culinary techniques, and unique ingredients. It’s the “in” thing right now.
I’m happy to report Mexican has officially arrived in Nairobi! No, I’m not talking about just burritos, guacamole, re-fried beans, tacos or nachos. Think beyond the quick preparation dishes that Tex-Mex cuisine has popularized. Traditional Mexican culinary techniques are time consuming, labor intensive and require many ingredients.
Rich, thick, complex, chocolate-tinged, and approximately 20 ingredients make up Mexico’s National Food, Mole Poblano. The preparation of this concoction usually begins a day ahead: chopping, grinding, roasting, and blending. The fragrant sauce is then boiled for hours and reduced to a thick, aromatic, subtly sweet and savoury sauce that’s perfect for a juicy roast chicken thigh or in some delicious tamales steamed in banana leaves.
Mexican cuisine is vast but all feature the use of fresh local ingredients and traditional preparation methods. And now, you can sample some of its best in the cosmopolitan East African hub, Nairobi.
MERCADO MEXICAN KITCHEN AND BAR
Beautiful, vibrant and hand-painted crockery from India, swinging benches, expressive light fixtures, and a spacious terrace that looks onto the centre of Westlands, its only three weeks young, but Mercado is sleek and contemporary with food to match. Chef Raul Martinez Ramirez from Mexico City reinterprets the street food of different regions of Mexico and refines it with his touch. Unique ingredients such as some chilies are imported directly from Mexico to ensure the flavours are authentic. The service staff is well-trained and knowledgeable. Regardless of the day of the week, this place buzzes, so plan ahead, and make a reservation! Make sure you try the Shrimp Mexicana Tostada and Pork Pibil Taco.
Named after the casual neighbourhood eateries of Mexico, FONDA brings that authentic home-cooking to Nairobi with its vibrant and whimsical décor, which includes a skull wall, cobblestone floors, architectural arches, open kitchen, delicious salsas and a Mole Poblano that inspired me to write this Eat List in the first place. Also only a few weeks young, Chef Gerardo Rodolfo Perez Lopez from Veracruz is keeping things local with chilies from Mexico, but grown in FONDA’s own farm in Kenya. From the earthen crockery to the whimsical art pieces on the walls to the hand-painted tiles, the owners of FONDA have painstakingly sourced everything from Kenyan artisans. Located at Rosslyn Riviera Mall, it’s definitely worth the trip. Try the Mole Poblano de Pollo, and the Uchepos, which is like a sweet corn tamale.