Irio

Some Kenyans believe there is no difference between irio and mukimo, but some says, there is a difference.

Our first maid was from a Kamba tribe. I remember when she said she was cooking mukimo, she would make same as irio with mashed green leaf vegetables.

When she cooked irio, it was just mashed potatoes, fresh white corn (not dried), and green peas. At the end of the day, I thought mukimo was just another variety of irio. I would love to hear from the Kenyans about this.

Our Kikuyu maid said Mukimo is from Mt Kenya. When I researched, I realized that there are several tribes around Mt. Kenya: Kikuyu, Ameru, Masai and Embu. Now I am asking myself, is Mukimo traditional food for all those tribes or for just the Kikuyus? I guess I forgot to ask that question when I was in Kenya in 2015.

Another thing that I learned while living in Kenya was that unlike irio, mukimo, does not have to use peas, any regular beans are used often. I remember our maid liked to use pumpkin leaves for mukimo and red beans. The Kikuyu use Kahurura (fig leaves). Kahurura is in the same family of pumpkin leaves.

Irio has become a Kenyan identity more than just for the Kikuyus.

Recipe

You can use frozen peas and corn. Use ½ lb potatoes, ¼ cup green peas, and ¼ cup corn per person. Garnishing is my own addition. The only ingredients that make authentic irio are potatoes, peas and corn. Serve 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 lb potatoes
  • 1-cup fresh peas
  • 1-cup fresh corn
  • 1 tsp salt

Garnishing

  • 2-ounce onion (or very large onion for four people)
  • 1 sweet pepper (small is better, but size does not matter much
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp or more coconut oil
  1. Peel, wash and boil the potatoes. In two other pans, boil peas and corn separately. When cooked discharge the water from the vegetables including potatoes.
  2. Mash the potatoes, then add peas, corn salt and butter, mix (do not mush at this point)
  3. Put in a warm serving dish.
  4. For garnishing, heat coconut oil on medium-high heat, sauté onions and red pepper. Cook until dark (almost burnt for better flavor). Then add salt. Put in a serving dish.
  5. Serve irio and garnish with the stir-fried onions.

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