Elizabeth

Kenia

This is
Elizabeth Njeru (1977)

Country of origin 
Kenya 

In the Netherlands since
2000 

Profession 
Kenyan caterer

First impression Amsterdam 
It felt like coming home

Loves
Dancing

Still would like to
Sell typical African products in Amsterdam


“You learn to love other cultures by eating their food. So I always bring foreign visitors to the Moeders restaurant on the Rozengracht. We eat local Dutch dishes like stamp pot. Personally, I’d love to bring the Kenyan kitchen to the Netherlands, which is why I started up a catering company: Mama Kenia. Really tasty! It’s a tribute to my mother. The older I get, the more I think back to my youth. And usually my mother and how incredibly important her role in my and my four sister’s upbringing. My mother is an incredibly sweet lady who should be put on a pedestal. She’ll welcome the entire world with open arms. And so I would like to honour her by cooking her dishes for the Hollanders; for my second home. I treat the Netherlands to the tastiest Kenyan snacks made with fair-trade ingredients.


My speciality is the Mama Kenia samosa. I deliver these quite often to the Mandelahuisje hostel in Amsterdam Noord. A samosa is a crunchy pastry triangle filled to bursting with wonderful fillings such as beef, goat meat or potato. I’ve noticed that the Dutch are very accepting of Kenyan dishes. It’s not too spicy, made with recognisable basic ingredients and served with an extra portion of conviviality.

I cook a lot myself, and love it! When I work with others, I try to get the Kenyans and Dutch working together. At first I thought I’d only work with the Kenyans to give them work opportunities. However, I later thought, “No. This way I can bring different nationalities into contact with each other, and introduce others to a range of cultures”. That’s what I love. It’s my way of adding a little extra magic to Amsterdam. Mama Kenya has therefore become a social enterprise that stands central in the community.

What I really miss are Choma Zones. These are platforms where they make Nyama Choma, a Kenyan speciality. Nyama Choma is barbequed meat, often goat meat, but it’s more about the atmosphere hanging round this platform. A lot of Kenyans sit around it, nice and chilled with a Tusker Baridi Kenyan beer. Lovely!

I love how open-minded and curious people are in Amsterdam. Everybody wants to try my Kenyan dishes. The saying, “What the farmer doesn’t know he doesn’t eat”, doesn’t apply here. It’s actually the opposite. “What the farmer doesn’t know, he’d love to try!”.”

76 people in Amsterdam have the Kenyan nationality

 

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