To say that Kenyans love ‘Nyama Choma’ is an understatement. In fact we love ‘Nyama Choma’ so much we find the most random excuses to enjoy it. As much as not everyone can know how to grill like a pro, we all have that once person in the family or in our group of friends who has unmatched meat grilling skills.
It comes without saying that most people think making the perfect Nyama Choma is as easy as boiling water or microwaving popcorn but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Nyama Choma is an age old tradition of grilling meat on a direct flame until the outside fat is fully rendered and crispy, and the inside is juicy and well cooked. It is one of Kenya’s most devoured and appreciated staple foods that goes well with almost everything but can still be served as a standalone dish. Generation to generation, the cooking techniques and flavors of it have not been altered, and we like it just like that.
Nothing is scarier than cooking food on a direct fire and hoping not to completely incinerate it into ash or burn down your house. That’s why I’m bringing you the best tips on perfecting Nyama Choma.Originally Nyama Choma is mostly in reference to goat meat but now we are experimenting more and cooking all sorts of cuts of meat from poultry, seafood, beef and even rabbit just to name a few. Nothing to spruce up your Sunday afternoon barbeque like a platter of different meats all served as Nyama Choma. YUM!
It is best to have your meat marinated hours before you want to roast it. You can never go wrong with marinating it in salty water and some herbs like rosemary and thyme. It’s all up to personal preference honestly but don’t marinate it in so much spice that it becomes a curry. Make sure your grill is clean and doesn’t have remnants of previous barbecues. Get the charcoal lit only putting the meat on the grill once the fire going.
Put the meat directly on top of the fire until the outside looks ALMOST burnt then wrap it in foil so the inside slowly cooks. You could also separate your grill into two; one fairly hot and the other not so much so that the meat slowly cooks on the fairly hot side. You should alternate the meat between the two to ensure the outside stays crispy and the inside is well cooked. Occasionally dab your meat with the marinade that remained from earlier to infuse more flavor into your Nyama Choma. You can also dab a diluted barbecue sauce on the meat to add flavor and make the meat sticky. Different cuts of meat take different times. Fish will take the least time, followed by poultry and then meat. Cut into the thickest part of the meat when checking to see if the inside is ready.
The flavor should be smoky with a hint of burnt. Once ready serve with a salad and some Ugali or Roast Potatoes then knight yourself the title of a Nyama Choma Hero.