Lockdown in Nairobi has closed all restaurants except for takeaway orders and dampened festivities for the holy month of Ramadan. In the past it was not uncommon for Muslim families and friends to gather at a restaurant and enjoy iftar, the evening meal after the day’s fast.
A number of eateries have ramped up home delivery and takeaway service to facilitate evening gatherings.
The proprietor of Manara Restaurant initially ran an online food business so she is used to handling takeout orders. This small eatery in a busy shopping centre of Lavington specialises in Swahili dishes, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine. The Mutton Biriyani is a ‘best seller’, at Ksh1,300 ($1.2) per person in a package that includes a soup of the day, fresh juice and dessert.
Another is the meat-filled Manara Platter of assorted grills which comes with a Basbousa sweet cake and a soda. Manara will deliver free to your office or home with an order of at least Ksh2,000 ($18.2), which is essentially two meals.
Dining at Mwiko Gardens is a pleasant dining experience in the outdoor, garden-like setting. Their kitchen is still operational for takeaways and deliveries. Their special is a family-size meal with two starters and three meat items accompanied by rice, daal (lentils), six naans or 12 roti flatbreads, and dessert.
Mwiko’s still prepare takeaway appetisers such as bhajia, samosas, egg pakora and honey-chilli potatoes, and some main courses including their signature mutton vindaloo and butter chicken.
My friend Mahmouda recommends ordering from The Little Addis. It is an Ethiopian restaurant and they operate a cloud kitchen, so they have no physical retail space.
But this Ramadan their menu includes a Misir Wot lentil dish, Shiro (chickpea) stew, two kinds of Tibs beef stew, a Gomen Besiga of lamb and spinach, and a Beyeynatu vegan platter of assorted curries with injera bread. Each comes with a complimentary packet of dates and bottled Ambo mineral water sourced from natural springs in the Ethiopian town of Ambo.
Five-star Villa Rosa Kempinski is offering a four-course menu at Ksh7,500 for two people, with free delivery. It has a lentil soup, a selection of cold mezze, hot starters, various mixed grilled meats with starch accompaniments, and five dessert items. There's a vegetarian option.
One of the best-known eateries in town for coastal food, is Swahili Plate. Their iftar snack box containing beef samosas, kebabs, viazi karai (deep fried potatoes) bhajia, kaimati pastries and chutney is an attention-grabber. This package for Ksh790 ($7.2) is sufficient for five people.
Arhaan’s Grill call themselves the Indian barbeque specialists. For just Ksh700 ($7) you get assorted sweet and savoury appetizers including kebabs, daal bhajia, chicken spring rolls, mahamri pastries and dates. The special package is enough for two people and comes with a hot green chutney and coconut chutney.
Wakesho’s Touch of Coastal Cuisine has three Combo menus for Ramadan with options such as samosa, pilau rice, viazi karai, chicken curry and kaimati.
They come in small, medium and large packs to cater for between two and eight people and prices starting at Ksh2,200 ($20).
I have also discovered many informal catering options where meals are prepared in people’s homes. Some of them are caterers or café owners who have been negatively impacted by Covid. But often these home-cooked providers are only searchable in private networks or on social media platforms.