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A plate of omena (dagaa) fish.

Dagaa Omena Recipe

This delicious Kenyan pan-fried omena (dagaa) fish stew with lemon is bursting with so much flavour and is definitely guaranteed to stand out every time you make it!
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine African, East African, Kenyan, Tanzanian
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 135kcal


  • 1 kitchen tray
  • 1 Sieve
  • 1 bowl
  • 1 pot or pan
  • 1 spoon or spatula


  • 2 cups dried omena fish
  • 2-3 small jugs hot water (or more, depending on how dirty your omena is)
  • 3-5 tablespoon cooking oil (plus a third a cup to briefly fry the omena)
  • 1 medium-sized onion (chopped)
  • 2 small cloves garlic (finely minced or crushed)
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes (finely diced or blended)
  • teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 medium-sized bell pepper (pili pili hoho)
  • 1 small diced chilli pepper or dried chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • cup water (optional - for the stew)
  • one small bunch of coriander (cilantro) (chopped, leaves and stems separated)
  • ½ small lemon


  • Place your omena on a kitchen tray and run your fingers through it, to check for stones, and any other unwanted debris such as shells.
  • Use hot water to rinse your omena until clean. Next, using two cups of water, boil or soak your fish covered, for 10 minutes (see notes). Add more water if needed.
    2-3 small jugs hot water, 2 cups dried omena fish
  • Using a sieve, drain the water and set the fish aside. In a pot or pan, heat oil under high heat. Add the sieved omena (dagaa) and fry for about 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has dried up, stirring from time to time. Once done, set it aside in a bowl and prepare the stew.
    2 cups dried omena fish, 3-5 tablespoon cooking oil
  • Using the same pot or pan, heat oil under medium heat then fry the onion until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Next, add the coriander stems, curry powder, salt, chilli pepper or dried flakes, then stir to combine.
    3-5 tablespoon cooking oil, 1 medium-sized onion, 2 small cloves garlic, 1 small diced chilli pepper or dried chili flakes, 1 teaspoon curry powder, one small bunch of coriander (cilantro), ¾ teaspoon salt
  • Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, stir, cover and allow the tomatoes to cook for about 10 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated and the tomatoes have softened.
    3 medium-sized tomatoes, 1½ teaspoon tomato paste
  • Stir in the fried omena and bell pepper. Add a third cup of water or more as preferred, if you like your omena to have the consistency of a stew. You can also use milk or coconut milk, instead of water. Cover, and allow it to simmer for a further 5 minutes.
    1 medium-sized bell pepper, ⅓ cup water
  • Once cooked, drizzle some lemon juice on top, and garnish with some chopped coriander (cilantro). Serve hot, with some ugali.
    one small bunch of coriander (cilantro), ½ small lemon


  • You can choose to boil or soak the omena in hot water before frying. Just bear in mind that boiled omena will generally turn out softer than the soaked one. Use the soaking method if you prefer your fish crunchy.
  • add more water for more sauce, but not too much as it may turn out watery and not tasty.
  • add some oil, a little at a time, if your pan feels too dry.
  • use regular milk, coconut milk, or cream instead of water, for a creamy taste.


Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 456mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 914IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg