The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (2024)

. Modified: by Kate Hahnel

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This is the ultimate mbuzi nyama choma recipe! Goat meat is marinated in a flavourful herb and spice marinade, and then slowly grilled, to give you some tender, and delicious meat that you will certainly love!!

For a visual guide on how to make this nyama choma recipe, head over to my Youtube channel!

The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (1)

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My fellow Kenyans will tell you that the party has not really started until nyama choma with Kachumbari and Ugali has been served! Interested in finding out why? Then read on!

The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (2)

what is nyama choma?

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.

ingredients

This is a summary of the ingredients you will need. The detailed ingredient measurements and instructions have been provided in the recipe card below.

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  • Meat: this recipe uses a whole bone-in goat leg but works well with spare ribs, pork, chicken (Kuku choma), beef, mutton, or lamb. Adjust cooking times based on the meat type to avoid overcooking.
  • 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 make nyama choma

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  1. For the nyama choma marinade, blend all ingredients (except the meat) until smooth. If you lack a blender, dice everything finely or use a pestle and mortar. Marinating the meat is an extra step, but it's worth it as it enhances the flavors.
  2. On a chopping board, make 2-inch (5 cm) slits on the meat.
  1. In a large bowl, coat the meat with the marinade, ensuring the slits are covered. Save some marinade for basting during grilling.
  2. Cover the meat and allow it to marinate for at least two hours or overnight, for best results .
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  1. Bring meat to room temperature. Preheat the grill to high; if using charcoal, adjust the heat using the ashes.
  2. Sear meat for 3 minutes per side to get char marks. Place on oiled foil and top with the reserved marinade. Add garlic and rosemary on top, then cover losely with foil.
  1. Set meat on a water-filled tray and grill under medium-low heat.
  2. As an optional step, near the end, mix honey and hot water and glaze the meat with it. Continue grilling until cooked through, and the juices run clear.
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  1. Let the meat rest for 10-20 minutes and then serve.

Good to know 💡: While traditional nyama choma is typically marinated only in salt, this recipe includes a flavorful blend that enhances the taste. Be aware that some butchers in Kenya and Tanzania may add MSG, a potentially unhealthy preservative. Therefore, it's advisable to inquire about this with your butcher when having meat grilled at their shop.

can you make nyama choma in the oven?

While traditionally made using a charcoal grill (jiko) or over an open fire, you can still make this recipe in the oven. Here is how to go about it:-

  • Marinate and cover the meat (as per the instructions above on how to marinate).
  • Preheat oven to 170°C/365°F (standard) or 150°C fan. Lay meat on a baking tray and roast (bake) for about 4.5 hours, adjusting time, depending on the meat you are using.
  • Prepare the glaze - after roasting, I like to mix honey with 2-3 tablespoons hot water to create a glaze on the meat (this is optional so feel free to skip this if you prefer).
  • Baste - remove foil, then baste the meat with the honey glaze (optional), and broil each side 5-10 minutes or until browned.
  • Serve - ensure the meat is cooked and the juices are run clear. Let the meat rest for 10-20 minutes then serve.
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what to serve it with

Just like with most grilled meats, you can enjoy choma with so many accompaniments! These include:-

  • Ugali - A dense, dough-like side made from maize (corn) flour and water. It has a neutral tastes and really compliments the taste of the nyama.
  • Chapati - Soft, flaky, and delicious East African flatbreads.
  • Sukuma Wiki - East-African sauteed collard greens for some added vitamins.
  • Swahili Pilau - a spiced rice dish cooked with fragrant spices like cumin, cardamom, and cloves.
  • Mukimo: A Kenyan mash made with potatoes, green peas, maize, and sometimes pumpkin leaves or spinach.

storage

Nyama Choma is best eaten immediately as reheating tends to toughen it up making it chewy, especially if done in the microwave.

If you have to store it, allow it to cool completely, transfer it to airtight containers and keep it in the fridge for 3-4 days or freezer for 3-4 months.

useful tips

  1. Marinating is key! Try injecting the marinade into the meat or simply make gashes on the surface, so the flavours properly penetrate the nyama.
  2. Papaya and pineapple are natural meat tenderizers? To tenderize the meat, grate a quarter of raw papaya combined with some pineapple.
  3. Feel free to use your favorite spices, including simply using salt and pepper!
  4. Do not grill from cold. Remove your marinated goat meat from the fridge at least one hour before grilling.
  5. 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.
  6. You will know the meat is cooked when the juices run clear and it reaches an internal temperature of 150-160°F (65.6°C).
  7. Once grilled, allow the meat to rest covered in foil for at least 10-20 minutes before cutting. This helps prevent the juices from running over, ensuring the meat stays juicy and tastier.
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more East African recipes

Make sure to check out our other delicious African dishes!

Made this or any of my recipes? 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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Updated on November 13, 2023:Certain parts of this recipe have been simplified to enhance clarity and readability.

📖 Recipe

The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (15)

Mbuzi Nyama Choma

Kate Hahnel

Goat meat is marinated in spices and then slowly grilled in this tender and delicious nyama choma recipe. Best served with kachumbari and ugali.

5 from 14 votes

Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 2 hours hrs

Marination 30 minutes mins

Total Time 2 hours hrs 40 minutes mins

Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course

Cuisine African, Kenyan

Servings 6

Calories 647 kcal

Video

Equipment

charcoal, electric or gas grill

grilling rack or baking tray

aluminum foil

Ingredients

  • 5.5 lbs goat meat (or preferred choice of 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
  • 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

Instructions

  • Make the marinade; combine garlic, ginger, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt, stock cubes, rosemary, and chili in a bowl. Blend briefly in a processor to maintain some texture.

  • Make 2-inch slits on the surface of the meat or goat leg. Toss the meat in half the marinade in a bowl. Reserve the remaining marinade for basting.

  • Massage marinade into the meat, covering the slits. Wrap in foil and marinate for 2 hours (or overnight for best results).

  • Remove the marinated goat meat from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for at least an hour. Prepare and heat the grill to high. If using a charcoal grill, cover with ashes to moderate heat.

  • To prevent sticking, oil a foil piece. Sear the meat on the grill for 3 minutes on each side, then transfer it to this foil. Top the meat with reserved marinade and add two more foil layers beneath, to end up with a triple layer of foil.

  • Place two sprigs of rosemary and the bulb of garlic on top of the goat leg. Cover the meat loosely on top with foil so it resembles a tent.

  • Add water to a baking tray. Lay the meat on it (Note: This helps cook the meat evenly and retains moisture). Transfer to the grill, ensuring it is at medium-low heat. Grill, turning from time to time, for 1.5 hours.

  • Once almost cooked, mix the honey with 2-3 tablespoons of hot water to make a glaze. Uncover meat, baste, and grill for another 15-30 minutes until browned and juices run clear.

  • Once cooked, transfer the meat to a tray and allow it to rest for 10-20 minutes before carving. Serve it with ugali, sukuma wiki, and kachumbari, or your favorite dishes.

OVEN METHOD

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.
  • Grilling the meat in foil helps retain moisture and ensures the meat cooks slowly over a longer period. The slow cooking breaks down the connective tissues, thereby preventing your meat from turning out tough.
  • 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 recipe uses goat meat, but feel free to substitute this with beef, mutton, or lamb.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 647kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 87gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 238mgSodium: 2702mgPotassium: 1759mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1181IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 90mgIron: 13mg

    Tried this recipe? I would love it if you could leave a rating by clicking on the stars above on this recipe card.or simply PIN on Pinterest for later!!

    Reader Interactions

    Comments

    1. James foqus

      Waoo! It was so delicious

      • Kate Hahnel

        Thank you, so glad you loved your nyama choma!

    2. Agnes

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (16)
      When tendering the meat with pineapple and papaya should I do it prior to marinating and rins it before placing in marinade or should I add the pineapple and papaya to the marinade?

      • Kate Hahnel

        Add the pineapple or papaya at least 20 minutes before marinating (just make sure it is properly blended or smooth enough so you do not end up with huge chunks). Allow it to properly penetrate the meat; you do not need to rinse before adding the marinade.Hope this helps, have a lovely week ahead!

    3. Jen

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (17)
      A lot of my close friends are East African so I was really excited to try this recipe. The meat was marinated to perfection and had everyone going back for more. I'll definitely make this again!

    4. Enriqueta E Lemoine

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (18)
      I'm from Venezuela, in South America, and people eat goat meat there, especially in the arid zones of Falcon state. I think what makes your dish so appealing is the marinade! Yum!

    5. Heidy

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (19)
      I have to admit I was a little nervous about trying this mbuzi nyama choma recipe---but after I tried it, I was so shocked the entire family loved it, and even my mother-in-law enjoyed a plate. I was surprised it was so flavorful and would have it again!

      • Kate Hahnel

        So happy you tried it out and that you liked it very much. Thank you!

    6. Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (20)
      What a beautiful goat and lovely recipe! I love how informative this post is and how mouth-watering the pictures are! Thank you so much for sharing! This will be a huge hit at our next dinner party!

      • Kate Hahnel

        Give it a go and let me know how you liked it. Thank you for checking out my recipe.

    7. Amanda Dixon

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (21)
      This was my first time trying goat, and I'm so glad I did! The meat came out so tender, and the marinade was super flavorful. Loved it!

      • Kate Hahnel

        So glad you it turned out well!

    8. EA Stewart

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (22)
      I love all the seasonings in this flavorful dish! Especially the lemon & rosemary because I grow both at home. Great recipe!

      • Kate Hahnel

        Thank you! I am planning to grow a few herbs this year. Curious to know whether lemon survives the winter? If all goes well I will be making nyama choma with home-grown herbs!

    9. Amy Liu Dong

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (23)
      This is definitely one of the good and tasty recipes I've seen this day.
      To be honest, seeing this dish makes me hungry!

      • Kate Hahnel

        I am so glad you like it!

    10. Beth

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (24)
      This looks so delicious! I can get frozen whole goats nearby (for halal) but haven't seen smaller pieces - now I have a good reason to look further.

      • Kate Hahnel

        Please do, I can only recommend it and thanks very much. Ok, a whole goat would be a little over the top (for some reason this made me laugh so loud)!

    11. Kathryn

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (25)
      I've never tried this but now I want too. All of the spices sounds so good and goes perfectly with goat!

      • Kate Hahnel

        Thank you! That's true, the spices go well together. My husband says it is actually one of the best recipes I have ever made!

    12. Allyssa

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (26)
      Thank you so much for this super tasty and amazing nyama choma recipe! So perfect for my family, they loved it! Will make it again!

    13. Farrukh Aziz

      The Ultimate Nyama Choma Recipe (27)
      This goes well with salad, or just the way it is! I never thought of using goat meat this way, so it was really interesting to try out! And the flavors were amazing!

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