In the heart of inland Kenya lives a Maasai grandmother whose love for cooking has been passed down through generations. Agnes Kiano Kasaine, affectionately called Koko by her granddaughter and Jikoni Recipe Archive’s founder, Kiano Moju, has mastered the art of creating dishes that celebrate the simplicity of traditional Kenyan cuisine. One of her cherished recipes, Koko's Cabbage, is a true testament to the rich flavors found in minimal ingredients.
With her trusty knife in hand, Koko skillfully slices the cabbage, ensuring each piece is as thin as can be. The secret to this dish lies in its humble preparation, reminiscent of a time when kitchens were, quite literally, on the ground. With just a handful of ingredients–cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and onion–it can be effortlessly prepared by anyone, regardless of their culinary expertise.
Koko's Cabbage can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a variety of dishes. Serve it alongside chapos, grains, or your favorite cooked protein; the choice is yours.
By preserving recipes like Koko's Cabbage, we honor the legacy of African cuisine and ensure that these traditional flavors are not lost to time. So, take a culinary journey to Kenya and experience the joy of simplicity, the warmth of tradition, and the unforgettable taste of Koko's Cabbage.
1 small green cabbage or 1/2 medium cabbage
2 medium carrots
Handful fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 small red onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cut the cabbage in half through the stem. Cut out the hard stem, using a knife to follow along the natural ‘v’ shape. Place the cabbage cut side down on the cutting board, and cut into slices as thin as possible. Grate the carrots with the larger holes on a grater.
Finely chop the cilantro (leaves and stems). Combine the cabbage, carrots, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl. Add half the salt and mix well. Taste before adding the rest of the salt and mix again to season the vegetables evenly. Dice the onion.
Set a wide pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the oil, then add the onion and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to stop any burning, until the onion starts browning on the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cabbage mixture and stir well. Cover with a lid and cook until the cabbage reduces in size and is no longer crunchy, roughly 5 minutes.
Uncover and cook off any remaining water. Serve warm with chapos, grains, or any cooked protein.
Cinematographer & Editor: Matt Ciampa
Camera Operators: Kaniz Sheikh & Lucy Munene