RECIPE: Sukuma Wiki (Kenyan Braised Collard Greens)

People & Culture

Sukuma Wiki - Kale Greens Wilted with Ground Beef and Tomatoes, Kenya

A staple found in East Africa, sukuma wiki is a vegetarian dish commonly served in Kenya and Tanzania.

Sukuma wiki is the Swahili name for collard greens and literally means, “push/stretch the week,” which is quite appropriate as these nutritious leaves are available in East Africa all year round, and are quite affordable. Collard greens are an excellent source of Vitamin A, C, K, and calcium. If you prefer, however, you can substitute the collard greens with kale… a superfood which has garnered a lot of attention these past few years.

Sukuma wiki is cooked with fresh tomatoes and spices, which add a robust flavour. Usually served as a side dish, you can make it more of a complete meal by adding ground beef or ground chicken to this dish, as featured in this recipe. Either way, in Africa, sukuma wiki is usually served with ugali (a cornmeal based staple starch), although mashed potatoes or rice make great accompaniments too!

Zebra herd, antelopes and wildebeest at sunset in the savannah, Masai Mara, Kenya
Zebra herd, antelopes and wildebeest at sunset in the savannah, Masai Mara, Kenya

Before You Start:

  • Although the spices used are now commonly found in many grocery stores, you can also buy them at any Asian grocery market.
  • Because this is a relatively fast dish to make, have all your ingredients prepped before cooking.

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of collard greens or kale, chopped
  • 1lb lean ground beef or chicken (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (or red onion for a hint of sweetness)
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup water, vegetable, beef, or chicken stock

Directions:

  1. In a medium to large pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onions over a medium heat until they just begin to soften. Add the minced garlic and sautee for about 1 minute.
  2. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, and ground turmeric, and allow to gently fry for about 20 seconds until you get the aroma of spices, then promptly add tomatoes and blend well into the mixture, making sure the spices don’t burn at the bottom of the pan. (Tip: add a tablespoon of water, if necessary, to scrape off any spices that may stick.)
  3. Once the tomatoes soften, add the ground beef or chicken and cook until all pinkness is gone from the meat. Add salt.
  4. Add the collard greens or kale a handful at a time, stirring until all the greens are well coated with the mixture.
  5. Add the water/stock, reduce the heat to medium, and cover. Cook until the greens reach desired tenderness (ideally about 10 minutes).
  6. Remove from the heat and add a bit of lemon juice to taste.

NOTE: If you are using vegetable, beef, or chicken stock in place of water, reduce the amount of salt to add.