The ultimate mbuzi nyama choma recipe! Goat meat is marinated in a flavorful herb and spice marinade, and then slowly grilled, to give you some tender, and delicious meat that you will certainly love!!
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what is nyama choma?
Wondering what the meaning of the name nyama choma is? The name comprises of two words; nyama which means meat and choma which means barbecued in English. Put the two words together and you have barbecued meat. It is a popular dish in East Africa, especially in Kenya and Tanzania. Normally, beef, pork, mutton, or goat meat are used.
While eating goat meat is uncommon in America, it is very popular in Kenya and is actually, one of the meals that is always served whenever there is a barbecue, or whenever friends and family come together during football matches, for Friday evening meals, weddings, simply put, every occasion that calls for celebration.
Traditionally, the meat is marinated in either salt alone, or in a combination of salt, lemon, chilli and spice before being slowly grilled or barbecued.
Making Nyama Choma is not difficult at all and I am happy to let you know that you too, can make your own barbecued meat at home. Here is what you will require:
- Meat: this recipe uses a whole bone-in goat leg (mbuzi) but but feel free to substitute this with spare ribs, beef, mutton, or lamb. You can also use chicken, to make Kuku choma instead (in this case, adjust the cooking time so you do not end up with tough chicken).
- Vegetables: fresh ginger, garlic, onion and, bird eye chillis (optional).
- Spices: cumin, paprika, and stock cubes.
- Fruit: lemon juice (easily substitutable with lime juice).
- Condiments/other: honey, cooking oil, paprika powder, and salt.
how to marinate goat meat
Okay, I will admit that marinating goat meat may sound like an extra step that you would rather skip, but trust me on this one, as this step will certainly enhance the flavors. I can tell you for certain that there is no looking back, once you get accustomed to marinating your food before cooking.
- Prepare the nyama choma marinade by adding all the marinade ingredients to a blender and processing (garlic, ginger, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika, stock cubes, rosemary, and bird eye chilli). If you do not own a blender, simply dice everything finely, or use a pestle and mortar to grind.
- On a chopping board, use a knife to make slits or gushes approximately 2 inches or 5 cm apart on the goat leg.
- Put the goat meat in a large bowl toss with some of the marinade on top, making sure to cover the slits. Reserve some of the marinade for basting, during grilling.
- Cover with aluminum foil and allow it to marinate for at least two hours or for best results overnight, before grilling.
- Useful Tip: Traditionally, nyama choma is only marinated in salt but this recipe uses a flavorful blend that is bound to transform the taste. Some butchers in Kenya and Tanzania add MSG, a preservative that is not healthy at all (so yes, it is always better to check with your butcher first, regarding that).
watch how to make nyama choma on the grill
This segment shows how to make nyama choma. For measurements and the step by step photos, please see the recipe card provided at the bottom of this page.
how to make nyama choma in the oven
- To make nyama choma in the oven, simply marinate the meat and cover it with aluminum foil in preparation for roasting, as per the marination instructions above.
- Next, preheat the oven to 170° C/ 365° F (standard) or 150° C fan then lay the meat on a baking tray. Place in the oven and slowly roast for 4.5 hours. Bear in mind that the time may differ, depending on the cut of meat you are using. Therefore, feel free to add or decrease the cooking time.
- Once the time is up, mix the honey with 2-3 tablespoons of hot water. Uncover the foil and baste with the honey glaze (optional). Broil each side for 5-10 minutes or until the desired brownness has been achieved. It is done when it has an internal temperature of at least 150-160 degrees F (65.6°C) and the juices run clear.
- Once cooked, transfer the nyama choma to a tray and allow it to rest for at least 10-20 minutes before carving and serving.
what to serve nyama choma with
Serve nyama choma hot, with mukimo, or ugali and kachumbari. Other suitable combinations include:-
- Sukuma Wiki
- Swahili Pilau
- Or enjoy it with some Instant Pot Basmati rice for a quick and tasty meal!
Refrigeration: Nyama Choma is best eaten immediately. While you can still reheat, I do not recommend it as reheating causes the meat to toughen up and become chewy, especially when done using the microwave.
If you indeed have to warm leftovers, then heat on a grill or sufuria (pot) and drizzle with a few tablespoons of warm water so it does not dry out.
useful recipe tips
- Try injecting the marinade into the meat or simply make gashes on the surface, so the flavors properly penetrate the nyama.
- To tenderize, grate a quarter of raw papaya combined with some pineapple.
- Remove your marinated goat meat from the fridge at least one hour before grilling.
- If using a goat leg, cut into three or four large chunks, so it cooks more evenly and quicker. This also helps reduce the cooking time.
- Once grilled, allow nyama choma to rest covered in foil for at least 10-20 minutes before cutting. This helps prevent the juices from running over. This way, the goat meat stays juicy and tastier.
Great news, you have made it this far which means you probably made or are making this recipe! It would go a long way if you could leave a ⭐rating on the recipe card or comment in the comments section below.
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Mbuzi Nyama Choma
- 5.5 lbs goat meat (approximately 2.5kgs)
- 10 cloves garlic
- 1 bulb whole garlic cut across in the middle
- 1 red or white onion large
- 1 lemon juiced
- ⅓ piece ginger
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil or preferred cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoon ground paprika
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 stock cubes
- 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 bird-eye chillis de-seeded
- 1-2 tablespoon honey (optional - for basting)
- 2 tablespoon water
- Prepare the marinade- in a bowl, combine garlic, ginger, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt, stock cubes, some rosemary, and chili. Use a food processor or blender, to save on time but take care not to process it too much. It should still retain some texture.10 cloves garlic, 1 red or white onion, 1 lemon, ⅓ piece ginger, ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 2 tablespoon ground paprika, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 stock cubes, 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 bird-eye chillis
- Use a knife to make slits 2 inches or 5 cm apart on the goat leg. Transfer the meat to a bowl and toss it with half of the marinade. Set the other marinade aside, to be used in basting the nyama choma.
- Massage the marinade into the meat, making sure to also cover the slits. Cover the meat with aluminum foil and allow it to marinate overnight or for at least 2 hours.
- Remove the marinated goat meat from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for at least an hour, before setting it on the barbecue. During this time, prepare your grill and set it to high. Cover your grill with ashes if using a charcoal grill, to prevent it from getting too hot.
- Rub a few tablespoons of oil on a piece of aluminum foil then set it aside. Grill the meat on high for approximately 3 minutes on each side, or until it attains a proper color then transfer it to the prepared aluminum foil. Top it with the reserved marinade, then add more layers of aluminum foil at the bottom, so you end up with a triple layer.5.5 lbs goat meat
- Place two sprigs of rosemary and the bulb of garlic on top of the goat leg. Cover the meat loosely with foil so it resembles a tent.1 bulb whole garlic, 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Add some water to a baking tray and place the meat on top of the baking tray (see notes below) Transfer it to the barbecue grill then cover the lid, trying to maintain the temperature at medium-low. Grill for one and a half hours, turning from time to time.
- Once the time is up and the meat is almost done, mix the honey with 2-3 tablespoons of hot water to make a glaze. Uncover the meat and baste it with the honey glaze. Continue to grill for a further 15-30 minutes or until the desired brownness has been achieved and the juices run clear, or it has an internal temperature of at least 150-160 degrees F.1-2 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoon water
- Once cooked, transfer the meat to a tray and allow it to rest for 10-20 minutes before carving. Serve nyama choma with ugali, sukuma wiki, and kachumbari, or your favourite dishes.
- To make nyama choma in the oven, simply marinate the meat and cover it with aluminum foil in preparation for roasting, as per the instructions above. Next, preheat the oven to 170° C/ 365° F (standard) or 150° C fan then lay the meat on a baking tray. Place in the oven and slowly roast for 4.5 hours.
- Once the cooking time is over, get the meat out of the oven and remove the aluminum foil. Make the glaze by mixing honey with 2-3 tablespoons of hot water. Uncover the meat and baste it with the honey glaze.
- Return the basted meat to the oven and broil each side on high for 5-10 minutes, or until the desired level of browness has been obtained.
- Remove the meat from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes, before carving to prevent the juices from running out.
- Serve the nyama choma with mukimo, ugali, kachumbari or your favorite side dish.
- If using a baking tray, add some water to the tray to prevent it from getting too hot.
- The recipe card uses the minimum marination time of 30 minutes. For best results marinate overnight.
- To tenderize the meat, grate a quarter of raw papaya combined with some pineapple into the meat.
- Remove your marinated meat from the fridge at least one hour before grilling.
- To reduce the cooking time if using a goat leg, cut the meat into three or four large chunks, so it cooks more evenly and quicker.
- Allow the nyama choma to rest covered in foil for at least 10-20 minutes before cutting to prevent the juices from running over. This way, the meat stays juicy and tastier.
- This nyama choma recipe uses goat meat, but feel free to substitute this with beef, mutton, or lamb.