Thursday, June 4, 2009

Desperate Wishlist

My sister and her family have been in the US for some months now. They’re all still homesick and missing things which we take for granted here. So when someone was travelling to visit her, she sent me a list of things she’d give an arm and a leg for. I must say some of them are surprising because she never really touched them when she was around. Like Clove Oil. True that saying that you never know what you got until it’s gone. Here is her list. She’s so nostalgic she wrote it mostly in Swahili. I’ve translated as many as I can but some are so indigenous I don’t know whether they have English names.

  • Iliki 3-4 Kgs – Cardamons. Iliki is very good for tea and general cooking. It’s a distinguishing ingredient in Mahamri, Pilau and Biriani. But 4 Kgs of Iliki or any spice for that matter is too much!

  • Mdalasini – Cinnamon. With it’s sweet spicy scent and flavour, it’s good for tea, pilau and many other dishes.

  • Tangawizi – Ginger. It’s often combined with Iliki above to make a mean cup of spiced tea. It’s also perfect for stews and marinades. Fresh ginger goes especially well with fish.

  • Ukwaju – Tamarind. Seeds of the Mkwaju tree. They’re brown and sticky when fresh. Tamarind is widely used to make sauce to go along with deep fried potatoes (Viazi karai) which are sold at every other corner in the estates and restaurants at the coast. It has a tangy sour taste. Also used to make tamarind juice.

  • Mbaazi – Pigeon peas. Upcountry hardly a wedding or any such grand occasion goes by without mashed mbaazi. It’s also a breakfast delicacy especially at the coast where it’s made with thick coconut milk and served with mahamri and spiced tea.

  • Hamira – Yeast. Used in place of baking powder to make dough for mahamri. Yeast is the major difference between mahamri and mandazi.

  • Mafuta ya Karafuu – Clove Oil. One word – pungent. The only use I can think of for clove oil is for massaging sore joints. But the stuff stinks to high heaven and no matter how it’s packaged, the smell will still permeate to anything and anyone around.

  • Chepe – Coconut oil. It is said to be very good for hair and skin care. Mothers especially use it on their babies because it’s natural and mild. While it is not as pungent as Karafuu, it has a not so nice smell.

  • Majani ya export – Good old authentic tea leaves. No vanilla, hibiscus, strawberry, cranberry or any such enrichments.

  • Solar Dried Mkunde and Mchicha - Mkunde is cowpeas leaves and mchicha is amaranth. They’re dried and sold in a farm outside Kikambala so I got a small trip out of town.

  • Swahili Sandals size 43 - several pairs - Beautiful handmade sandals embellished with multi-coloured beads. With a size as large and as uncommon as 43, they’re not kept in stock. I had to place an order and wait for 1 day for them to be made.

  • Royko – I Kg.

  • Soya Chunks (Nakumatt) – But the US is the mother of Soya!

  • Njahi – Black beans. There must be some around there?

  • Kunde – Cowpeas.

  • Unga wa Uji – A lot. She’s a new mother.

  • Dry peas.

  • Salimia Ointment – Sounds familiar. What was it used for again? There must be an equivalent there surely?

  • Hatha – stinging nettle.

  • Bonisan Gripe Water – I see someone has not yet known her way around town.

  • Sunlight soap – Come on now! Ok. She has only ever cleaned her babies with sunlight and the new one is no exception it seems.

Farmers Choice Sausages, mabuyu (baobab fruit), achari (spice sundried mangoes), sim sim seeds, kashata , vibibi, vitumbua, ufuta, woishe my dear sis!



I was not about to disappoint a homesick lady and new mum. The travel agency disputed just about all the items but rules are made to be broken no? Save for the perishables, medicines and oils, just about everything else has safely been delivered to her in US.


What are you people out there missing or missed while you were away?


Also see: Our Reading Spaces. A worthy course I read about at Mama Shujaa’s.


29 Comments:

Nairobian said...

Are you certain i am not the one who sent you that list from Nairobi? by the way im desperatey in need of a recipe for biriani and Pilau masala sauce...i had coasterian neighbours and learnt a few good recipes now i need to do those two!

Mama said...

Your sister amezidi na hii homesickness yake, mpaka mboga za kukausha? Mambo ama mambo? But I guess I understand her kidogo.

Though the other day Redheart remember him from Domo? He told me him he bebaas "ALIYA" from Kisumu City! For those who don't know aliya is smoked meat! Imagine passing hapo Heathrow na Aliya...si people would think those are witchcraft charms? Hehehehehehe!

I am the kind of person who travels with all my cooking things and I mean everywhere even ushago, holidays in those self-catering apartments, foreign countries, you name it, i will be there with my stuff! I will usually have with me royco, knorr beef chilli cubes, pilau masala, coconut powder, curry powder,my own tea bags! Heh! My mother chided me for carrying so much luggage mpaka she kept quiet...nowadays she just laughs at my foolishness. You should see me at the airport, I am usually quite a sight, and I always pay for extra luggage courtesy of these things and for some reason, I am always the tiniest person with the most bags!

What I would really love to carry is maize flour but one packet is 2kgs if you carry 2 packets yawa that would be a whole lot of weight especially if you get a maximum of 46kgs to carry!

Maua said...

Tell your sister that is a business opportunity she shouldn't miss.

All those things, at least most of them are in London, difference being the price. A small royco is £3-4. After a while she'll find her ways to the Indians.

Sunlight iko, and instead of Salimia, FLP Heat Lotion works magic.

Now, my list. Your sister wants 1kg of Royco, I want 2x2kg, pilau and tea masala, not forgetting Darling Hair ....... They will pass thru Heathrow.

Tamaku said...

Royco never fails to make it on these lists. Most wapishi bora swear by it kwa kuongezea ladha...

Cee said...

I'm in tears, her list looks soo much like mine it's unbelievable. I thought I was the only kenyan who orders for farmer's choice sausages...lol...tuko wengi...woooiii...My mum was in Nai recently, she brought back farmer's choice sausages, I had to post an update to all my visitors to stay away till they finish.
Wacha I go have some mabuyu bado hazijaisha...hehehehe...kashata is hard to find :( wish I could get together with Kaimata za Ramadhan na viazi vya karai from the beach in Msa...mate yanidondoka..ebu I leave ur blog before my keyboard gets wet

Anonymous said...

I've resided in the US for around 15 years and OMG, I totally miss mabuyu and achari. A lot of the other stuff you've listed can be found in the Indian stores.

Ssembonge said...

Bonisan and Woodwards Gripe Water are banned in the US because they contain alcohols. She can use natural treatments that contain Dill and can be bought from natural food stores.

PKW said...

May break my wish to remain anon-si you give me some coastarian cooking lessons?
Not sure njahi and hatha are swahili words.

KK said...

Funny thing is, whenever mathe asks me what I miss from home, nothing comes to mind other than superloaf... which used to be my fav 'food' before I left almost 10 yrs ago. I'll send her this list and wait to hear the shock in her voice:)

Mama Shujaa said...

Yaani, I NEED all that stuff RIGHT NOW! OMG!!! BTW - shhhhh...but I know someone who managed to smuggle some Farmers Choice sausages!

Cee said...

Kwani farmer's choice sausages are banned from the US? I have been smuggling for soo long I thought it is legal

Maua said...

FC are illegal in UK too.

Kei, ati superfloaf? That cracked me. I'll get u one when I visit Boston. Some Royco???

val said...

Especially today..there is so much I miss :(

Farmers choice sausages, blueband, royco, proper mummy made chappos (ok so I miss mummy), mandazis, samosas...sigh..( I do have royco and tea leaves sent to me so its not too bad)..

Oh and proper kale and spinach...

You have made me crave biriani..swoon!

pink m said...

I haven't been away so I don't miss anything.

I'm here to beg for Birani, Pilau and Mahamri recipes. Add Viazi vya kupaka (or something), and all those nice coast dishes. Pleaaaaase!!

Shiko-Msa said...

Howdy people. I've been away. Within the borders lakini. Surprisingly all your comments have made me realize that I also miss a few things around. The sausages for example. And KK superloaf.

Lol Nairobian hata wewe and you’re just a few kilometers away. I was in Nrb over the weekend. Next time I come over I’ll pack up some stuff. For now I’ll E-mail you recipes for those. The ingredients are much easier to find there. Maziwa lala, unripe pawpaw, beef, rice, spices and food colour are all you need to make Biriani. Pilau is even easier.

Lol Mama wachana na sistangu. She’s a few months in a foreign land and has a new baby. BTW she also carried lots and lots of these stuff. I’m surprised how fast she has depleted some of them. Of course I remember Redheart! Wacha I’ll chokoza him. Smoked meat is Aliya? I thought it’s called Athola. Whichever it is, the Britons would have a hard time understanding if they caught him at Heathrow. Lol. And Mama I’m beginning to think you generally like luggage wewe. I also carry a bit of my own stuff to shags and to sisters homes in nrb coz I’ll always get asked to make mahamri or something.

Maua she sure could do business by the way. I’m sure hata huko they’re there somewhere. It’s just the whole settling in and getting used to the place that is the problem. Plus someone was going there to take her kids so she had to take full advantage. Darling hair lol. Haki the things we take for granted!

Tamaku good old Royko. It does ongeza ladha and thickness. Surprisingly I don’t use it much. Wait till I go somewhere I cant get it then I’ll miss it like crazy.

Haiya Cee kwani where are you? I’ve always assumed tuko pamoja huku. Woiye pole for the tears. Viazi karai you can make there. Si I’m sure there’s potatoes and wheat flour at least. But anyway homemade ones are never as tasty as those greasy ones for Swahili mamas for some reason. But if you miss them too much give it a try. You’ve made me miss Ramadhan too. The delicacies!

Anon I’m sure in another few months time she’ll be a veteran and wont be asking for anything. She’ll know all the dukawalas in the neighborhood by name.

Ssembonge karibu. I steered clear of the meds and meats. Bonisan contains Alcohol? OMG our babies! I’ll pass the message about the natural alternatives. Thanks.

Lol PKW. Cooking lessons any time. Your anonymity is safe with me. I won’t tell. You’ve caught me there, Njahi and Hatha are as kuyu as they come hehehehe. Haki I’m unable to ever eat more than a handful of Njahi as much as I know they’re good for health. They taste like earth!

KK good old superloaf Lol. Not kenblest or broadway? Your mum will wonder what you’ve been reading.

Mama Shujaa/Cee pray how does someone smuggle sausages? Freeze them until the last minute before travel I guess? No don’t tell. The formula needs to stay secret in the unlikely event that the department of homeland security will read wanjiku and blow your cover. Hehehe.

Val I hear you on Sukuma wiki and spinarch. BTW I spied on twitter that Jamie Oliver was deep frying flowers? Jeez. Come back home if it gets to eating deep fried flowers hehehehe. Just kidding. If I knew which flowers they were I’d give it a try trust me. You didn’t just faint now did you?

Shiko-Msa said...

Miss Pink let me laugh at you. There's nothing like Viazi ya kupaka. It's samaki wa kupaka. Lol. I'll allow you to laugh at me in return when I come to Nai and cant tell even where to buy stuff. remember?

ruthleen said...

hi,are u kidding me!we miss everything,thanx again ,my son says thanx 4 visiting his blog,pitisha recipee ya pilau lol

HNG said...

Having lived in the US for far too long, I can safely say that many of the items on the list are avalable in drug stores and pharmacies in the States. But your point still stands.

Shiko-Msa said...

Thanks Ruthleen. The 12 year dream rapper is your son? Pass my regards.

Thanks HNG. She'll find all these and then some with time though at higher prices than back here.

KK said...

yes... Supa loaf. Half of the stuff on ur list I didn't even recognize. And the rest I cldn't pronounce.

Mo said...

Me I think your sister is opening a restaurant and keeping you out of the loop. lol. Quite a list there!

BP 1 said...

Salalah…,that list is just too long , can see your sister is home sick, am sure next time she will crave for our good climate...Shiko what will you do then , ship that too!!!!!.

During my days I missed OMO , there TIDE washing detergent was a household brand, I had difficulty doing my laundry with it, another thing I missed most was Kenyan tea ,although LIPTON tealeaves were locally available I used to order FAHARI YA KENYA tealeaves from Kenya.

Nairobian Perspective said...

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Shiko-Msa said...

KK lol. I understand. Some of these names came with the seas.

Mo, long time. That's the exact question I asked her esp coz of the 4kg Iliki. Ai kwani unafungua duka?!

Thanks Nairobian. Moola any time. I'll be there soonest. Hope they wont ask for paypal stuff.

BP hata Omo. Most people miss food stuffs except for you (Omo) and Maua (Darling hair). Kenyan tea is the bomb.

Thanks guys. The sister has been reading this comments and having a good time.

extravagantgrace said...

lol this is well funny, other day I was missing toast mayai made by my mum and wen I told her she said I never liked it wen I lived at home and the next question was if I am pregnant which I am not to set the record straight

Cee said...

Shiko usijali, niko huko pia....I'm a global citizen. Mambo ya smuggling sausage, wacha I will tell u later....Wale wako UK, there is Wahu's shop that sells Kenyan Bambucha na Exe Mandazi...hehehe they even have sabuni ya kipande na baking powder ya Chapa Mandazi...lol...and they ship incase u don't live near the shop...incase u need contacts, nitafute...:)

savvy said...

Shiko, I should come to Msa and use all those spices to prepare some coastal meal...

@Ssembonge
Gripe water contains alcohol? So you just give the baby a bottle and he/she K.Os..

Shiko-Msa said...

Extravagantgrace you never know what you've got until it's gone. Toast mayai you can make there sio? Ama it will not taste as good as for Mum?

Cee I'm sure those in the UK are reading and taking note of this Wahu place.

Savvy you're most welcome. I'm also shocked to learn that gripe water contains alcohol. ama that's why crying babies shut up so fast after taking it.

Anonymous said...

Vipi fellow swahili/kenyan ladies? I hope wote hamujambo. Am residing in Australia and nilipo soma list zenu, my homesickness just went sky high!! If anyone is reading this and una recipe ya kutengeneza spiced mandazi na pilau, tafathari nitumie kwa email hii: angelcool_angelcool@yahoo.co.uk

Asante wote.