You are here:

Kenya/Luo cuisine


ari-pup wrote at 2007-10-28 14:43:35
Thanks for your question. I think Kagi is not a Luo judging from the response.

Just a few facts:

I am a ja-Luo myself. The Kenyan Luos (sub group of the larger Lwo, Nilotic group) do not involve in cock-fighting and bull-fighting is completely unknown amongst us.Our neighbors, the Luhya indulge in and enjoy the games.

Wife-inheritance used to be practised ages ago but is no longer there. The reason for it was based on our love for children orphaned by death of the father. The idea that whoever wails loudest is fairly judged as innocent is mere hogwash just like the claim that Luo clan will rob a widow of her husband's property. We do have our unique birth, marriage and burial rituals just as the Chinese, the Omani Arabs and the Swedes have theirs. Those are the signposts that give us identity as Luo's. One can never essentialize in this respect. There is no Luo along those essentialist lines. Our culture and our language are learned like among all other groups.

Anyone conversant with Luo culture would not fail to mention fish as a crucial cuisine. Ugali maize-meal, (kuon) and tilapia is our favorite. Nam Lolwe (lake victoria) is our favorite fishing site and whoever has been to Kisumu city on its shores will tell you about Lwang'ni chain of shanty hotels where fish is the main dish. Of course Kisumu, the capital city of Luo country, also boasts five star hotels like Imperial hotel. Kisumo dala is also where mbuta nya-nam (nile perch) is processed before being shipped to European markets. Unfortunately, the locals who do the fishing are left only with mgongo-wazi(the skeleton of the mbuta after flesh has been sliced off/extracted).

Your boyfriend is missing fish and ugali. Get him kuon and obambla (half-cut sun-dried tilapia). Go with him to the food market and let him choose his best selection. I am sure he will go for vegetables akin to osuga, mito, bo,akeyo,etc. He will also go for fishes like kamongo, omena, mbuta, monye, odhadho, ngege etc. Kuon is one of the easiest but also trickiest to prepare. Water is boiled in a pan, and flour is added at intervals as one mixes the gruel into a hard ball using a cooking stick, oludh-kuon. Your boy friend may likely know about the process as long as corn/maize meal is available.

One little detail you must have found out: we are the only Kenyan community that does not circumcise men. All others do some including clitoridectomy (FGM) as well.

I've lived in many countries in Africa, Europe,and Asia and wherever I've gone, found Luos already there enjoying the local foods and adjusting well to the respective cultures. I believe, your boyfriend will adapt with time. Luo men and women are often said to be quite proud but adapt easily anywhere except among their Kenyan neighbors who they tend to regard with disdain as old-fashioned and uneducated in modern fashions. Hence, they will shun local Kenyan languages yet learn to speak fluently many European and Asian languages.

Warm wishes and good luck.

Willkat wrote at 2008-07-10 04:36:12
i am a luo lady proud to b eone and dissappointed at kagi ignorant answer. For your luo husband i will suggest . some fish : scale it season it with a little bit of roiko, curry powder and salt and deep fry it in oil. look for maize meal flour or corn flour that the latino use to make their tortias makes a good close to ugali.

Try spinach with okra it will remind him of luo delicay called apoth

luo girl wrote at 2008-11-06 20:08:01
Kagi,i have just stumbled across this answer you gave about luo food and luo customs. please do your homework thoroughly next time before misleading poeple about other people's a luo i am insulted with the garbage you have written here.

fred wrote at 2011-02-13 14:38:53

I just want to thank the person who have just answered the question but he/she has not clarified which clan is your friend/husband is coming from. There are several clans with different cultures. In this case, he/she is refering to Lughya community. He/she has really mixed the information. I am aluo and I have never herd of what this person has elaborated. In which part of Nyanza is this culture found. Thanks.

owino wrote at 2014-03-12 20:59:36
well my name is Owino clearly you will see that there is a pattern in names here with the luo community the Os for men As for women this pattern varies sometime e.g. Lupita Nyongo doest have an A on it anyway what Alexandra has said, most of it is true but when it comes to customs she has mixed 2 customs here. we do not bull fight that is a different custom, we don't sleep with corpse, in this day and age no one inherits women not even the "mormons" i live in utah currently so to scare someone with this kind of talk is not being nice to the culture and to this lovely lady. i am married to a white girl and usually these kinds of questions arise because the "non-luo" partner looks for info on the internet and the anti-luo tibes post untrue facts. here is a link u can join it will be so helpful and u can ask all the Qs u want  

I AM A LUO MAN wrote at 2014-09-27 05:34:13
A point worth mentioning, please do not cook him tilapia fillets and pass it on as luo cuisine. There's a place for that, but whenever possible, cook the whole fish . There is no fonder gaze shared -  at least at the dining table - between a luo man and that of his fish. Trust me, navigating one's tongue through the nooks and crannies of "the engine" (the head of the fish), to devour every buried morsel takes skill ,tact and patience; determinants that will keep you both very ,ahem, entertained for dessert.

Meg wrote at 2015-08-05 16:08:59
I think this answer is misleading a lot!! luos enjoy ugali and fish. there is no bullfighting nor chicken fighting in our culture. the answer might be referring to the Luhya community from what I can see

wuo dala wrote at 2015-12-27 21:00:40
kagi is ignorant of luo culture.he describes luo the way one would to neoandathal man or homo habils and say they are men.

Luo's love natural food,preserved through natural means like sun drying,smoking and deep frying.This goes well with fish,beef,mutton and goat meat.

A major delicasy is fish preferably tilapia or ngege with ugali made from maize or millet meal.of this is accompanied with vepetables that are dark green mainly kales,spinach and other bitter vegetables.

As per luo customs and culture,we only follow practices that conform to current needs of human comfort and social,widows are more enligtened and empowered to support themselves thus beating the tradition long logic of inheritence.grabbing of property is an archaic vice and no sensible people can accept that.

Last but not least is luo culture is full of intelligence,pride,swag and beloning.Our children whether born abroad or on the moon will always find their way back to their roots. Ask around for our famous sons born far from home

luo men are intelligent ,loving caring and extra benovent to their women,you are one lucky person

Ochien'g wrote at 2016-03-14 12:03:14
I'M A luo man married to an Australian We teach our children my vernacular. I would suggest that you let your boyfriend teach you his culture. By reading many of this answer now you know that luos are very civilized people. I think the the guy talking about bull fighting is misleading you. Where on earth would someone sleep with corpse. Fish is number one with ugali If you boyfriend is learned then he will teach you more about customs food and even how to prepare it.  

David Oluoch wrote at 2017-01-25 16:21:53
The word Luo is pronounced Luuo.The Luo sacred places are Odino in Nyakach, Got Ramogi near Ngiya Girls,Kit Mikayi in Seme , Simbi Nyaima near Otok Bird Sanctuary, Nyamgondho at Nyandiwa between Karungu and Gwasi,Got Buru-Buru in Lira,Got Chilo in the Sudan.The Luo Recipe are white meat: fish and chicken as well as red meat derived from clean mammals and birds. Kuon is the millet, finger millet mixed with maize grounded,poured into a boiling pot, done to soft or semi-hard cooked dough.Vegetables are cooked separately as mineral additives or cures.   Chicken is served whole to all Luo In-laws,who are allowed to consume only particular parts.An elder brother accompanies an in-law in order to taste the food and invite other companions in line with seniority  to partake of the food.Death at the in-law is detested as the corpse is not wailed for.A fence is cut anew in the perimeter wall whereas he is made to walk out of the homestead resting in the arms of his folks as if he never passed on.The body is strategically placed outside the fence of the in-law's homestead.A messenger is sent to his father's home to break the bad news upon which some able-bodied folks are sent back to collect the body.Once the body has been safety brought to his place of birth, the siblings begin to shed tears.Marriage was solemnized by pride price and marriage dowry.The number of livestock was known and colour of the prized bull never included stripped bull without horns and with virility intact.Marriage ceremony was irreversible,in view of negotiations concerning separation.The reason for divorce is either adultery or cruelty.The in-law,compensated an in-law involved in certain tasks of child identity and welfare of children born out of wedlock.A book titled 'Luo Kitgi Gi Timbegi',by Paul Mboya is a necessary tool to learn the nitty-gritty.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




I can answer questions on the overall Kenyan culture, our history (given some time to confirm the facts), and our way of life in the towns and rural areas. I'm not claiming expertise, but if you want my opinion, I'll give it to you.


I am a Kenyan, I have worked with various children's homes and aid organisations to get a hint of the other side of the street, and I enjoy observing Kenyan life. I have also done a number of courses in culture.

I Choose Life (ICL), Kenya Book Foundation (KBF), and SIFE

A local magazine in Kenyan estates in Nairobi, AdPaper, and my university newspaper, Involvement.

A liberal B.A in Communication.

©2017 All rights reserved.