I recently went on a culinary trip to taste camel produce-meat and milk. My curiosity took me to a restaurant dubbed Kulan Cuisine and Coffee along Kaunda Street in Nairobi’s CBD. Owned by a family of Kenyan-Somalis, Kulan which translates to ‘place to eat’ has two locations. The first one situated in Eastleigh offers a wider range of Somali cuisine compared to the second eatery in the CBD.
Their menu features various dishes with camel meat such as camel balls, camel curry, camel steak, camel kebab, stir-fry, meatballs, burgers and more. They also serve other dishes including chicken, seafood, pasta, as well as Somali meals including dhaylo arosto (slow-roasted tender goat meat), kostato (slow boiled camel meat) as well as Ethiopian dishes.
“Camel meat is a healthier option of red meat as it contains minimum fat. People normally assume that camel meat would be tough but it’s quite the opposite,” elaborates Bashir Warsame, Director at Kulan.
I had the Camel stir fry, served with Somali-style rice and my companion had the camel steak served with roast potatoes. The rice had a similar taste akin to Swahili flavours. Spices such as saffron, tumeric, fenugreek as well as raisins made this rice a myriad of bold flavours.
The rice includes pieces of meat and vegetables making it a meal on its own. I indulged in the stir fry noting the tenderness of the camel meat and as I searched for a distinct taste that I would attribute to camel meat, I couldn’t find any aside from the spices and sauces it was prepared with.
The steak contained absolutely no fat, bringing it somewhat closer to the healthier as well. As we indulged, Bashir explained that the younger the camel is when it is slaughtered the more tender the meat will be.
“We get camel milk from pastoralists within the country where we offer a direct market for camel meat and milk,” says Bashir.
“Our restaurant in Eastleigh is more popular with Somalis and they consume more of the camel meat and milk compared to other meat options since they already know the benefits. Here the CBD however, we are tasked with introducing patrons to camel options and the interest is gradually growing.”
We washed our meal down with their signature camel-ccino. A cappuccino made using camel milk. While it tasted slightly different from a normal cappuccino, the benefits of the milk make it all the more worthwhile.
Camel milk is ideal for people who are lactose intolerant and it is also a healthier milk option offering 50 percent less fat and 50 percent less saturated fat. The camel-ccino costs slightly more than a normal cappuccino at Ksh 220 for a single.
“We also sell camel milk where a litre goes for Ksh 290 and a half litre and Ksh 150. The prices are set this way because camels don’t produce as much milk in litres. From the farm level its almost 2.5 percent of the cost of the normal milk,” explains Bashir. Other drinks available that incorporate camel milk include smoothies, milkshakes and ice cream is set to be introduced soon.
In Nairobi, camel meat and camel milk can be found in any Somali cuisine eatery or in Eastleigh, where there is larger volumes of consumers of the products