Despite being one of the highlights of traditional Kenyan cuisine, mutura sausage is surprisingly difficult to have served up at a regular restaurant, discovers Winnie Wangui, when she decides to organise a mutura night for her colleagues.
I did not expect the search for a restaurant that serves Kenyan blood sausage to be complicated. After all, there is a joint on Muthangari drive that clearly states on its sign that mutura is a speciality. However, on the day of the planned meal, I phoned said restaurant only to be told they had just fired their mutura chef.
Panic set in and I began scrambling, making phone calls, asking Facebook. Surely someone knew of a good place that had quality mutura on the menu. Minutes before I threw in the proverbial towel, one of our designers handed me his phone, a picture on his Instagram feed showed a plate of the unmistakable black sausage. It was shot at Ambo Gardens in Lavington, I sighed with relief, the plan was back on track!
Visitors to Kenya are often treated to a sumptuous nyama choma (barbecued meat) dinner complete with all the traditional trimmings. Less common, however, is serving them up a platter of freshly grilled mutura sausage. Made by stuffing the large
intestines of a goat with offcuts, offal and blood, this is one of the few traditional dishes that requires a certain amount of chili and spice for the recipe to come out perfect.
This black, alluringly funky and textured sausage, is popularly eaten during wedding celebrations but is equally loved on the streets, where dedicated vendors hawk it from the dusty pavements of busy commuter areas. While a certain amount of trust is absolutely necessary when buying it from a street vendor, sometimes these makeshift side of the road stalls are so popular, they have lines snaking round the block, filled with people eager to get their daily mutura fix.
As we walked into Ambo Gardens, which is located off Amboseli road in Lavington, we took in the casual setup: high wooden chairs and tables casually dispersed in the floor space that lies between the no-frills kitchen and the well-stocked bar. A large TV played the UEFA league semi-final and a handful of couples sat nursing drinks and waiting for their food. The ambiance was relaxed and we instantly felt lulled by the sound of the torrential rain pelting on the canvas tenting above our head.
Before long, two medium sized mutura sausages arrived on a small plate. A bite brought back all the memories of the times I enjoyed mutura at my grandmother’s house in Githunguri, Kiambu. Every Christmas day, all the uncles in the family and
the older male cousins would be tasked with preparing this beloved dish which, when ready, would be passed around on trays to the numerous relatives strewn all around the home. A little always had to be secretly stashed away, to be enjoyed
by the immediate family later on that evening.
As we eagerly began to sample our mutura, we commented it had just the right amount of spicy heat and that a sprinkle of salt was all that was needed to satisfy our yearning taste buds. Chef Kilonzo must have heard our “mmhs” and “aahs” of delight because, before we knew it, a second and then a third round of the sausage had been placed on our table.
Traditionally, Mutura making skills are handed down from generation to generation and different Kenyan tribes have their unique recipes. One thing that remains unvaried across the country though, is the fact that it is the responsibility of the men to slaughter the goat and then prepare the sausage out of the cleaned (but not too thoroughly), intestine.
If you’ve never had mutura and don’t know where to find a trusted street vendor that won’t cripple you belly for the better part of a week, then make your way to Ambo Gardens, the ideal place to go for black sausage novices!
Ambo Gardens is located on Amboseli Road, Lavington.