Tales from the Bush Larder chef chats rural cooking and trying bizarre dishes in Africa

Set in Kenya, a new culinary travel series begins tonight on Nat Geo Wild, frontman Kiran Jethwa speaks about scoffing cow’s blood, grasshoppers and mud crabs…


Stunning Kenyan scenery meets exotic ingredients and culture in National Geographic’s new culinary travel show Tales from the Bush Larder (which airs tonight at 7pm, on Nat Geo Wild).


“While Kenya is not known for its cuisine, the quality and variety of food and ingredients available here are fantastic,” explains star of the show chef Kiran Jethwa, who prepares and eats dishes such as guinea fowl egg fig ice-cream, mud crabs and cow’s blood.

We catch up with Jethwa for the inside track…

What should we expect from your Kenyan cookery travel show Tales from the Bush Larder?

We take the viewer on a culinary adventure through Kenya, highlighting the many positive aspects of Kenyan people, Kenyan life and Kenyan food. In the show we travel across the stunning countryside of Kenya to find interesting ingredients, and in turn meet the vibrant people responsible for procuring them. The show also focuses on the sheer resourcefulness shown by the fishermen and farmers of rural Kenya who often operate in extremely harsh conditions with crude equipment, yet remain persistently cheerful and positive. The show sees me joining a local fisherman or farmer to learn firsthand how they fish or harvest ingredients. Using these ingredients I then cook for my new friends in the bush in a way that they have never tried before. I also take some ingredients to Nairobi to cook a more refined dish in one of my restaurants.


Experience African cuisine on a trip to the continent with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details

What bizarre dishes do you experience during the show?

The most bizarre thing I had to eat without question was cow’s blood! We were in the famous Maasai Mara National reserve uncovering the Maasai tribe’s food culture. One of their delicacies is cow’s blood that is taken directly from the cow’s jugular. They shoot a special arrow into the cow’s jugular that only just pierces it, blood comes gushing out, and they take just enough, then patch it up with charcoal and the cow walks away a bit dizzy but fine. The blood is then swallowed immediately while still warm. It was a stomach churning experience. I’m currently shooting the second series of Bush Larder now, and we discovered that Ugandans love to eat grasshoppers. There is a booming industry around the critters and the locals absolutely love them. I was very skeptical about trying these, but they were delicious. They tasted just like fried brown shrimp!


In your opinion, what’s the best foodie holiday destination?

I think my top four would have to be Thailand, Mexico, Italy and India. I have travelled extensively in the first three and I am half Indian. France has the worst food – it’s overated. And they have bad restaurants and terrible service.


If you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life what would it be?

I have always said if I was offered a last meal it would have to be a dish my mother has made since I was a boy. It’s an Indian yellow dahl soup with goat shank bones. The goat shanks are full of marrow and the lentils are spicy and warming. It’s the perfect comfort food for me, I love it.

Experience African cuisine on a trip to the continent with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details

What do you never leave home without when travelling?

My Leatherman. If I ever go anywhere and I have forgotten it, I always regret not having it to hand. They are so useful especially when you are stuck in the middle of the bush. I like to think of myself as a bit of a handyman and I always try and fix things myself if I can so I am always looking for excuses to use it.

I guess the other answer to that question is my wife – although sometimes she is harder to pack into a suitcase and not quite as useful when you are stuck in the bush.


What are you working on next?

I’m currently on location shooting Tales from the Bush Larder series two. This will air towards the end of the year and will see me taking my culinary adventures further afield to east Africa – Uganda and Ethiopia. In October I am shooting another new series focusing on Kenyan street food, then in December we are looking at shooting a different series in Ethiopia and Madagascar. I also own two restaurants in Nairobi and they keep me extremely busy and out of trouble when I am not shooting.


Experience African cuisine on a trip to the continent with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details