Traditionally, as in almost all cultures, cuisine of Africa uses a mixture of locally obtainable fruits and vegetables, milk and meat products.
East African cuisine is characteristic in the sense that sometimes, in traditional cuisine, meat products are usually absent. Cattle, sheep and goats were viewed as a type of legal tender, and are not normally consumed as food. Arabic influences are especially obvious in East African cuisine – steamed rice with spices in Persian technique, use of spices, and fruit juice. The British and the Indians brought with them their foods, like Indian spiced vegetable curries, lentil soups, chapattis and a variety of pickles.
The Portuguese introduced techniques of roasting and marinating, as also
use of spices turning the insipid diet into aromatic stewed dishes. Portuguese
also brought from their Asian colonies fruits like the orange, lemon and
lime. Portuguese also introduced chillies, peppers, maize, tomato, pineapple,
banana and the domestic pig – now, all these are part of East African
and the African food.
The Malay influence has brought spicy curries, chutneys, and pickled fish and curry-marinated pork or lamb kebabs, and variety of fish stews. The Indians have introduced a different line of culinary practices, including a variety of sweets and savouries.
There are several European offerings. Basic ingredients include seafood, meat products, and wild games, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits like grapes, mangoes, bananas and papayas, avocado. Meat products include lamb, and game meats like venison, ostrich, and impala. Local seafood is in plenty of supply and a variety of crayfish, prawns, tuna, mussels, oysters, mackerel, lobsters dishes are available along the coast.