Kale, the Sukuma wiki of Kenya

Sukuma wiki of Kenya

Those who grew up in Kenya or its neighbouring countries should remember the taste of ‘sukuma wiki’. It is possible that you did not eat it because it tasted better with ugali the type of food you did not eat in those days. Sukuma wiki means “push the week” which implies that eating it would give you strength for a week- claimed to be nutritionally powerful stuff. It’s related to kale. Californians adore its big leaves oven-baked as kale crisps. It can be consumed in many ways. Back in Kenya once a poor man’s food, it’s now commonly served on elegant dining tables.

Stung in California, I bought kale (Sukuma wiki) seeds packed in South Africa from Uchumi in Westlands of Nairobi and sowed them in my garden in Geneva. The third generation seeds have adapted to local conditions and now produce luxuriant big leaves for at least two seasons.

This year I picked leaves in February. Every one especially children relished them as kale crisps. Cooked in the Sukuma wiki way or as salad it’s delicious. Recently I mixed the chopped kale leaves and onions in wheat and gram flour (2:1) and made chapattis.

Most of that stack in the picture was consumed in no time. The few remaining are in the freezer.

Then I pondered: Kale seeds from South Africa, bought in Kenya, grown in Switzerland; Indian gram flour (besan) mixed with Swiss wheat flour and onions with a spoonful of Swedish baking powder; chapattis formed in a cast-iron tortilla press manufactured in Columbia and bought in Trump’s USA; and chapattis baked in a non-stick pan bought in Indian Punjab! Practical globalization.


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