If you’ve been around here for long at all, you probably know a couple of things about me:
(1) I grew up in East Africa
(2) I just got back from an amazing trip to Kenya with 3 friends
(3) I love vegetables
There are probably other things that about me that you know by now, but those are the 3 most important ones for this post. (My obsession with soup or ‘friends’ references probably don’t play into this recipe much.)
Well, maybe there should be a 4th…. I love this kale dish (sukuma wiki)! As a student in Kenya, whenever we visited Kenyan homes I always knew there would be sukuma wiki on the table and it was always a flavor that I enjoyed. I think it was the familiarity of it and the fact that I never had to wonder what it was or if there were any hidden, secret ingredients. It was greens, onion, seasonings (and sometimes tomatoes). Perfect!
So, what is sukuma wiki?? ‘Sukuma wiki’ is a swahili phrase that literally means to “push the week” or “stretch the week”. The thought was that as you near the end of the week and money is tight and you still want to feed your family something nutritious that a big bowl of greens was the ideal choice.
Greens (collard greens & kale mainly) are vegetables that are generally affordable and available all-year round in East Africa. In fact, most homes would have a shamba (garden) all around the home and greens would be growing everywhere. How cool would it be to have such immediate access to greens? I think I paid 18 AED ($5) for the bunch of kale that I used last time I made sukuma wiki. CRAZY! I think I need a shamba!
Traditionally, sukuma wiki is cooked with tomatoes in most Kenyan homes, but it is also one of those dishes that everyone has their own recipe for, so there are as many different ways to cook sukuma wiki as there are Kenyan mamas. Sukuma wiki served with ugali (a thick maize porridge – like really thick grits) is the staple dish in most of East Africa.
Before I get too homesick for Kenya, I better get on to the recipe. This is one of those dishes that you’ll love to through together at the end of a long day and it will help you feel good about what your family is eating. Plus, it keeps well in the fridge, so make a double batch over the weekend and enjoy it with your breakfast sausages. It’s a great way to get your greens in. 🙂
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Sukuma Wiki (sauteed kale)
Time: 20 minutes
2 T olive oil
1 large red onion (about 1 cup) – thinly sliced
1/2 T garlic powder
8 cups greens (kale, collard greens or spinach) – rough chopped
1/2 cup +/- water
1/2 t turmeric powder
1/2 t pink himalayan salt
juice of 1 lemon
– heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
– add sliced onion and saute until it starts to brown – then add garlic powder
– add chopped green a couple of handfuls at a time and toss them well in the oil, onions, garlic
– once all the greens are in the skillet; add water, salt and turmeric
– –NOTE: If you use spinach, use less water, because it doesn’t
take as long to cook and you don’t want your sukuma wiki to
– place a lid loosely on the pan and turn down the heat
– allow greens to simmer/ steam for 10 +/- minutes until the water has cooked out and they are at your preferred doneness (I prefer my greens to still have some bite, so I cook kale for about 8 minutes
– once water is cooked out, remove from the heat and squeeze a lemon over the sukuma wiki and mix it through
– serve with stew and chapatis for a Kenyan meal…. or each as a side dish with most things. I particularly like greens with seafood.