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Here Are 18 Street Foods You Can Only Get In East Africa

From cardamom doughnuts and roasted meat, to stuffed pancakes and sugarcane juice.

A quickly growing cosmopolitan country, Kenya is packed with beaches, natural wonders, and street bites hard to find anywhere else.

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Thanks to a demographic comprised of dozens of tribes, as well as South Asian, Arab, and other minority communities, the food in this East African country is varied, rich, and prepared to please. From cardamom doughnuts and roasted meat, to stuffed pancakes and sugarcane juice, we found the best 18 eats you'll find across Nairobi, Mombasa, and other cities in Kenya.

1. Mahamri

2. Bhajia

3. Chapati

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What is it? Chewy, unleavened flat bread eaten by itself or with other toppings and dips.

Brushed with oil and ever so slightly salty, this bread is one of those bland but savory foods (like tortilla chips) that you can eat multiple servings of, with other toppings or all on its own. The flat bread might have Indian roots (and likely a product of Indian-Kenyan trade relations way back when), but it is at this point a wholly Kenyan tradition that is enjoyed by locals on a regular basis.

4. Uji

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What is it? Porridge made from corn flour, millet flour, and sorgum flour, and sweetened with sugar. (You can try the recipe yourself at home.)

This comforting dish is packed with fiber and often served to kids for breakfast. It's often topped with sliced fruit, nuts, or drizzled with honey for additional flavor.

5. Chapati With Egg and Cheese

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What is it? Chapati with cheese, egg, and spicy mince meat folded into the bread.

This stuffed pancake, also known as a "keema chappati," goes perfectly with chili or tamarind sauce and is delicious when dipped in a yogurt sauce.

6. Grilled maize

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What is it? Grilled or roasted corn.

Commonly found all over East Africa, this handheld snack is a sweet, crunchy, and often topped with salt, chili, and lime.

7. Mshikaki

8. Sugarcane

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What is it? Raw sugarcane sliced into bite-sized pieces or sold whole.

To enjoy this sweet treat, chew the sugarcane and suck out the sweet, molasses-flavored juice. Once you're done, spit out the fibrous remnants and repeat with the next piece.

9. Sugarcane juice

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What is it? Fresh, sweet juice extracted from sugarcanes.

The juice is often combined with lime juice and ginger for a tart and slightly spiced flavor. It's perfect in the middle of the summer when you need something refreshing with the perfect kick.

10. Dagaa

11. Fried Cassava

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What is it? Fried cassava topped with salt, chili, and lemon.

Cassava is a starchy tuber similar to potatoes or yams. It's got a bit more bite to it, making it resilient to deep frying, slicing, roasting, and topping with delicious, spicy ingredients that'll make you come back for seconds.

12. Fried Packed Potatoes With Coconut Chutney

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What is it? Filled, deep-fried potato balls.

This street snack is boiled and filled with a chili-sour paste, and often topped with a coconut chutney and spicy pili pili sauce. The potatoes (served with fried chilies in the photo above) soak up the sweetness of the chutney and infuse together for a rich, addictive flavor. Locally, it's also known as "Viazi Karai."

13. Kachumbari

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What is it? Tomato and onion salad. (The recipe is pretty straightforward, if you want to give it a try.)

Fresh, light, and the perfect side dish to any grilled meat or bean dish.

14. Dengu Stew

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What is it? Stewed mung beans.

Usually eaten with chapati, rice, and other protein-rice sides.

15. Mutura

16. Ugali

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What is it? Cornmeal shaped into doughy ball. (Here's the recipe if you'd like to recreate it at home)

This pillowy side dish is often used to mop up stews, savory meats, and other proteins. Western eaters might compare this to polenta. You can get it from a street vendor, but you'll also find it at most family dinner tables.

17. Heart of Palm

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What is it? Crispy, coconut-like slices of hearts of palm (which are harvested from the inner core of palm trees.)

You may have tried this ingredient in your salad. This particular, raw version is nutty, crunchy, mildly sweet, and perfect as a mid-afternoon snack.

18. Nyama Choma

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What is it? Roasted meat.

This succulent meat dish is eaten with your hands and often paired with an ice cold beer.

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