I must say, being Estonian has really paid off when it comes to food! Rwandan cuisine is as simple and basic as traditional Estonian dishes.
There is something that Rwanda does a lot better than Estonia, UK and Europe as a whole though… and that is cheap delicious tropical fruit. My breakfast is usually just that- mangoes, passion fruit (40p for half a kilo!), tamarillo and so on!
Lunch is a big deal here as a lot of the locals only have a cup of tea for both breakfast and dinner, making lunch the only proper meal of the day.
People always say that I eat too little as my lunch portions are… well… regular sized. I usually just explain to them I also eat at night and that tends to soothe their worries about my malnutrition!
The most traditional Rwandan lunch is the buffet and this is for two reasons – first, it is the only way you can get to eat your food in less than an hour (the service here is fabulously slow!) and second, you can pile as much food on your plate as you wish
What does the buffet offer? A wide variety of starches – banana stew, chips, rice, maize mash, banana mash, cassava, beans, pumpkin. Some vegetables – usually ground cassava leaves. And ONE piece of meat per head – strict rules!
Below are three lunch options across the price range – £1.20, £2.50 and £3.50 respectively
Eating on the street or in public (other than restaurants) is prohibited therefore snacking isn’t really a thing here.
So to combat this, Rwandans have come up with the concept of a milk bar. A milk bar is a place where grown men and women go to get a pint of warm milk or cold buttermilk (keefir) accompanied by a muffin / samosa / fried dough ball. A glass of milk and a muffin will cost you 30p.
Drinking milk has historically meant you are well off as it implies you own cows and Rwandans LOVE both cows and milk!
For me, this habit of drinking milk just takes me back to bed time in Estonia where mum served warm milk with honey!
Patience is a virtue when it comes to ordering food at a restaurant. The fastest I’ve got my food has been 50 minutes after ordering (and this was in an empty restaurant with three waiters and two chefs).
Kigali actually has a lot of variety when it comes to restaurants but for the time being I’ll focus on more traditional dishes. My favourite is sambaza – fried little fish. Brochette (kebab / sashlik) is also very popular; as are all kinds of stews – below is a chicken and banana stew.
Rwandan’s love beer and produce tons of it in the country. Fanta is also a big thing here, more so than Coke.
Whether you order a soft drink or beer, the waiter always gives you an option to have the drink warm, which always makes me chuckle.
African tea has become my personal favourite – warm milk, tea, ginger and sugar!