I am glad to finally be able to share with you my classic Kenyan beef stew recipe. Beef is slowly stewed in tomatoes, curry powder, and other spices to give you some hearty and fork-tender stew to serve alongside some Swahili pilau or your favorite side dishes!
You can make this beef stew on the stovetop or using your Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker.
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Just like with most African recipes, actually all recipes, there is no cast in stone way of making East African or Kenyan beef stew. Variations are normally based on the type of vegetables used. The base of the stew is tomatoes and the key is in using fresh vegetables, which will depend on the seasonality.
The ''how to'' make East African or Kenyan beef stew has evolved over time. Nowadays, most people use stock cubes or Royco (a type of flavor enhancer made out of cornstarch, herbs, and spices). Since we are making the healthy version, we will only be using natural ingredients for this recipe. Speaking of which, make sure to check out this coconut chicken (Kuku Paka, ugali, and beef samosa recipes!
Equipment and Ingredients
- Cutting board - to chop the beef. You can also ask your butcher to cut it for you.
- Sharp knife
- A medium-sized pot or pan - just make sure the pan is wide or deep enough for the stock.
- 6 or 8 Quart Instant Pot - for the instant pot method.
- Stewing beef - use other cuts of meat if you prefer, just make sure that it does not have too many bones.
- Spices - curry powder, black pepper, smoked paprika, turmeric.
- Pantry staples - salt and olive oil.
- Vegetables - red bell peppers, tomato, tomato puree, onion and cilantro (optional). We use red onions in Kenya because they are more readily available and affordable. You can also use some yellow onions. Other optional vegetables for this Kenyan beef stew recipe include carrots, peas, potatoes or green bell peppers.
Here is how to make Kenyan Beef Stew
Use your chopping board to cut your beef into stewing chunks. Season it with a teaspoon of salt, curry powder, turmeric, smoked paprika, and black pepper, and allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight for best results.
Using your blender or hand mixer, process onion, the remaining salt, tomato, red bell pepper, and tomato puree. Use a pestle and mortar to grind the garlic and ginger. Alternatively, process the garlic and ginger with the tomatoes in the blender if you prefer.
Under high heat, heat a medium-sized pot or pan then add the oil. Add the beef chunks and allow them to brown (about 2-3 minutes) on each side. Turn and allow the other side to brown for about 2 minutes, then stir in the garlic and ginger. Fry for a further 2 minutes until fragrant then add the blended tomato mixture and stir.
If making this on the stovetop, simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring from time to time. You can add more water if you prefer your stew to have more sauce or if it is too dry. Please bear in mind that the total time will depend on how tough or soft your meat is, so feel free to add more liquid and increase the cooking time if too tough, and vice versa.
Serve this Kenyan beef stew with some ranch cauliflower mash or your favorite side dish.
Instant Pot Instructions
If using the Instant Pot, cook the beef according to steps 1-3 above in the Instant Pot. Close the lid, making sure it is set to SEAL then set the Instant Pot to pressure cook for 25 minutes. Once the cooking time is over, allow the Kenyan beef stew to naturally pressure-release for at least 10 minutes before using the manual pressure-release function.
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The recipe was modified with process shots in January 2022. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites, at no extra cost to you.
Classic Kenyan Beef Stew Recipe
- 1 lbs beef (approx. 500g )
- 1 can tomato puree or blended tomatoes (see notes) (approx. 14 oz or 400 grams - use more or less tomatoes, depending on how you prefer your stew)
- 1 tomato medium-sized
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1½ onions medium-sized
- 2 red bell peppers
- 3 cloves garlic
- 0.5 " ginger (slightly more than 1 cm in length)
- 3-4 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoon salt (use more or less salt, depending on taste)
- ½ teaspoon curry powder (use quarter of a teaspoon or leave it out if you do not like curry powder)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ cup water (see notes)
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro (coriander) optional
- Use your chopping board to cut your beef into stewing chunks. Season it with a teaspoon of salt, curry powder, turmeric, smoked paprika and black pepper and allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight for best results.
- Using your blender, process onion, the remaining salt, tomato, red bell pepper and tomato puree.
- Use a pestle and mortar to crush the garlic and ginger.
- Under high heat, heat a medium-sized pot or pan then add the oil. Add the beef chunks and allow them to brown (about 2-5 minutes) on each side. Turn and allow the other side to brown for about 2 minutes, then stir in the crushed garlic, ginger, and tomato paste. Fry for a further 2-5 minutes until brown and fragrant then add the blended tomato mixture and stir.
- Simmer for 30-45 minutes (see notes below), stirring from time to time. You can add water, a little at a time, if you prefer more sauce or if your pan feels too dry. Also check for salt and pepper at this point and add some more, if preferred.
- Garnish with some coriander or parsley. Serve while hot and enjoy with your favourite side dish.
- Tomato puree is similar to blended tomatoes, do not confuse it with tomato paste.
- The total time excludes the time it takes to marinate the meat and will differ, depending on how soft or tough your meat is. Softer beef will take anything from 20 minutes, while tougher cuts may take up to an hour.
- You can also stir in other vegetables such as carrots, peas, potatoes, or green bell peppers into the stew.
- Add more water, a little at a time, if you prefer your stew to have more sauce or if you notice your stew is getting too dry.
- Feel free to leave out the curry powder, if you do not like curry, or use less tomato puree for a thinner sauce.
- To make this stew on the Instant Pot: Add the beef, blended ingredients, and spices to the Instant Pot. Close the lid, making sure it is set to SEAL then set the Instant Pot to pressure cook for 25 minutes. Once the cooking time is over, allow the Kenyan Beef stew to naturally pressure release for at least 10 minutes before using the manual pressure release function. How your meat cooks will depend on how soft or tough of a cut you are using.