Kenya is located in East Africa near the Equator. As a native of Nairobi, Kenya, I have lived in the U.S. for over 14 years and grew up eating red runner peanuts over there and still enjoy them now. Traditional Kenyan foods reflect the many different lifestyles of the various groups in the country. These dishes are easy to make and quite nutritious which forms the foundation of Kenyan cuisine.
Staple foods consist mainly of corn, maize, potatoes, and beans. However, peanuts and peanut butter are gaining popularity and are sold in the supermarkets and stores everywhere. It is also typical to see street vendors in some areas selling roasted peanuts in small sachets or cones of newspaper as a popular snack.
In Kenya, peanuts are referred to us groundnuts and locally called “Njugu Karanga” (Swahili). Groundnuts are mainly grown in western Kenya by small scale farmers both for food and sale. These areas have a tropical climate suitable for farming. There are two main varieties of peanuts in Kenya namely the runner type and the bunch type (Red Valencia). Bunch varieties are small, tastier and a highly marketable variety. It matures in 60 – 75 days. The runner is the larger variety and is preferred because of the high yields, it matures in 90 – 100 days.
While on vacation this past December, I purchased a variety of groundnuts from the supermarket to share with my wonderful colleagues. They were red skins slightly roasted and salted, the runners roasted and salted and some coated peanuts with chili, lemon and black pepper.They enjoyed the delicious peanuts which they noted are not too salty. If you ever go to visit Kenya be sure to grab some peanuts or peanut butter!