Nyama Choma

The nyama choma is a specialty of grilled goat meat. This roasted meat is very popular in Kenya where it is considered the national dish also in Tanzania.

What is Nyama Choma?

The name comprises two words; nyama which means meat and choma which means barbecued in English. Put the two words together and you have barbecued meat.

Where Does Nyama Choma Come From?

Kenya! It is a traditional meat dish from Kenya. The origin of “Nyama Choma” traced back to Massai’s history. Massai eating BBQ immigrated to Massai Mara from North Africa to East in the late first millennium AD. The nomadic people wandered with a herd of cows to look forward to grass and ground in lands.
Nyama Choma
Image Credit: Facebook

What Is Nyama Choma Made Of?

It is made from beef or goat meat, which is then traditionally marinated in either salt alone, or in a combination of salt, lemon, chilli and spice before being slowly barbecued.

How To Make Nyama Choma

Making this dish is not difficult at all and I am happy to let you know that you too, can make your own barbecued meat at home. The marinade is what gives this recipe that extra flavor, That you will Fall in love with. Here is what you will require:

  • Meat: this recipe uses a whole bone-in goat leg (mbuzi) but other cuts such as spare ribs will also do.
  • 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: cooking oil and salt.

To make nyama choma, it is best to barbecue the goat meat at medium to low temperatures. You can either use charcoal, an electric barbecue grill, or an oven.

What’s The Best Way To Grill Goat Meat For Nyama Choma?

Move the meat to the medium-low side of the grill for 10 to 15 more minutes. If you are working with a one-burner grill or a charcoal grill, lower the heat to medium-low, or about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Baste large pieces of meat and meat not wrapped in foil with the reserved marinade every five minutes.

What Is Nyama Choma Eaten With?

Today Nyama Choma is eaten on special occasions, such as a weekend family get-together, with the staple food ugali and the fresh vegetable salad, kachumbari. In Kenya, it is generally the men who do the grilling outdoors, while munching on the meat and gossiping.

Other suitable combinations include mukimo, rice, or chapati.

Whatever you pair it with, it is a hit!  Enjoy!

Nyama Choma 3
Image Credit: Facebook


  1. Meat: Goat is the meat of choice in Kenya, but beef will work just as well. Chunks of meat on skewers are easiest to grill, but whole legs or shoulders are often roasted until fork-tender. The cooked meat is then pulled off the bone with the fingers. Using short ribs, spare ribs and offal for this dish is common as well.
  2. Seasonings: The only seasoning used for authentic nyama choma is salt and pepper, but if you prefer, you can first marinate your meat in a mixture of minced onions, minced garlic, ground ginger, hot pepper flakes and a little lemon juice.

Useful Nyama Choma Recipe Tips

  1. Try injecting the marinade into the meat or simply make gashes on the surface, so the flavors properly penetrate the nyama.
  2. To tenderize, grate a quarter of raw papaya combined with some pineapple.
  3. Remove your marinated goat meat from the fridge at least one hour before grilling.
  4. To reduce the cooking time if using a goat leg, cut into three or four large chunks, so it cooks more evenly and quickly.
  5. Once grilled, allow 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 goat meat stays juicy and tastier.

If you made this recipe don’t forget to leave a feedback in the comments section.

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Nyama Choma

Nyama Choma

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Kenyan


  • charcoal, electric or gas grill
  • grilling rack or baking tray
  • aluminum foil



  • 5.5 lbs goat 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
  • ⅓ 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
  • 2 bird-eye chillis de-seeded
  • ¾ tablespoon salt
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary



  • In a bowl, combine garlic, ginger, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt, stock cubes, rosemary, and chili. Use a food processor or blender, to save on time but take care not to process it too much. It should still retain some texture.
  • Place the meat in a large bowl and toss it with half of the marinade. Set the other marinade aside, to be used in basting the nyama choma.
  • Use a knife to make slits 2 inches or 5 cm apart on the goat leg and massage the marinade into the meat, making sure to also cover the slits. Cover the meat with aluminum foil and allow to marinate overnight or for at least for 2 hours.
  • Remove the marinated goat meat from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for at least an hour, before setting it on the barbecue. During this time, prepare your grill and set it to high. Cover your grill with ashes if using a charcoal grill, to prevent it from getting too hot.
  • Grill the meat on high for approximately 3 minutes on each side, or until it attains a proper color then transfer to a triple layer of foil paper.
  • Place two sprigs of rosemary and the bulb of garlic on top of the goat leg. Cover the meat loosely with foil so it resembles a tent.
  • Set it on a baking tray or grilling rack, transfer to the barbecue grill then cover the lid, trying to maintain the temperature at medium-low or between 180 and 200 degrees. Grill at medium-low for one and a half hours, turning from time to time.
  • Once the time is up, mix the honey with 2-3 tablespoons of hot water. Uncover the meat and baste it with the honey glaze. Continue to grill for a further 15-30 minutes or until the desired brownness has been achieved and the juices run clear, or it has an internal temperature of at least 150-160 degrees F.
  • Once cooked, transfer the meat to a tray and allow it to rest for 10-20 minutes before carving.
  • Serve nyama choma hot with ugali and kachumbari.


  • 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. Mix the 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 from the oven and allow 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.



  • The recipe card uses the minimum marination time of 30 minutes. For best results marinate overnight.
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