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Swahili Village, Kevin Onyona's Kenyan Cuisine with a Heavy Indian Influence - Reopen on Rhode Island Avenue in Beltsville as of Jun 10, 2016


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I've driven past Swahili Village on Rt 1 in Beltsville more times than I can count, and finally got around to trying it out. Swahili Village specializes in Kenyan cuisine, which seems to have quite a bit of Indian influence.

 

The menu has a number of familiar Indian dishes, such as samosas, curry, and mango lassi. There are also quite a few goat dishes - goat stew, grilled goat, wet fry goat, as well as beef, chicken, and fish. There is only one vegetarian main dish, which is based on either red beans or lentils in coconut milk.

 

We tried the appetizer platter, which has bhajia (thin ruffle cut potatoes battered and fried), samosas, and mild sausages. The samosas were mostly meat inside (ground beef) and were quite spicy. The sausages were vaguely reminiscent of kielbasa.

 

I had the goat stew, which had chunks of bone-in goat in a lightly seasoned sauce. The goat was tender and nicely cooked, the sauce was quite mild. This came with the choice of two sides, for which I picked plantains (standard fried treatment of plantains) and cabbage with onions, which seemed to have been sauteed as a simple presentation.

 

Some of the fish dishes on the menu looked interesting, and may bear future investigation.

 

I think the traditional method of eating is without utensils, and there were a few tables in the restaurant that chose to eat with their hands. When we arrived at quarter to 7, most of the tables were empty, but it was pretty well packed by 7:30 on a weeknight.

 

Note that they are moving to a new space just a few blocks up on Rhode Island Ave, in the shopping center with Seoulia, sometime this winter.

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I've driven past Swahili Village on Rt 1 in Beltsville more times than I can count, and finally got around to trying it out. Swahili Village specializes in Kenyan cuisine, which seems to have quite a bit of Indian influence.

The menu has a number of familiar Indian dishes, such as samosas, curry, and mango lassi. There are also quite a few goat dishes - goat stew, grilled goat, wet fry goat, as well as beef, chicken, and fish. There is only one vegetarian main dish, which is based on either red beans or lentils in coconut milk.

nelumbo, thank you so much for posting this. For many years, as a joke, I've been pointing out that DC is not the be-all and end-all of ethnic cuisine, and that when it comes to Africa, for example, we're very strong in Ethiopia, very weak in North and Central Africa, feeble in Western Africa, and non-existent below the equator. I feel the same way about restaurants such as Swahili Village as I do about cheetahs living in the wild: Although I may never see one, my life is better, and I am happier, just knowing that they exist.

It's important to point out that Kenya and India are littoral (<--- now's a good time to look this up) states of the Indian Ocean, and as a result, Kenya has a relatively high density of both Indians and Hindus - thus, native Kenyan cuisine has been peppered by India, in much the same way that Filipino cuisine has been influenced by Spain, or Ethiopian by Italy (although these latter two examples resulted from colonization, not free trade - that said, Britain colonized India *and* Kenya, so the world is a complex place).

I would be very interested to chat with the owners, in order to find out their cultural and ethnic heritage, and how it relates to both India and Kenya. In the meantime, I hope Beltsville residents embrace this melting pot, and that it's frequented on its own merits. Thank you for posting this - I'm going to get out to Beltsville and try Swahili Village soon.

Their website is here.

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I ate there about 2 years ago (pretty good, though not memorable enough for me to review it now) and they had the same "moving" sign up then, so not sure how real this is.

Note that they are moving to a new space just a few blocks up on Rhode Island Ave, in the shopping center with Seoulia, sometime this winter.

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Thanks to Don's timely thread bump, I headed here for my last lunch in Laurel. The A/c was out in the restaurant, so I enjoyed my goat wet fry al fresco.  The bone-in goat was nicely cooked, though with a good amount of fat/gristle to contend with in addition to the bones.  This is a pretty oily dish, as the grilled meat is sautéed with onions and tomatoes, but not distastefully so.  As nelumbo mentioned, you get a choice of sides, 2 of which involve rice, and I think that might not be the greatest option given the pool of oil here.  I had the chapati (a rich, buttery flatbread) and collard greens.  The preparation of the greens was unexpected and welcome.  They were finely shredded, and very lightly cooked, such that they were still quite crunchy, providing a great textual contrast to the rest of the plate.

I would've love to have accompanied all this with an ice cold Tusker, but the workday didn't permit it.  Shame I won't be able to go back to try again.  I would recommend stopping by if you're in the area and looking for something different.

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