Mawingu Stew

» Posted on Jan 20, 2004 in African Recipes | 0 comments

Mawingu Stew

Many years ago the world seemed much bigger. It took far more time to travel from one place to another, especially in Africa. Living on the slopes of Mount Kenya was considered ‘remote’. And yet, it appeared like everyone in the world came by to visit. A ‘visit’ meant an overnight stay at the very least, and certainly dinner for the wary travelers.

There were only basic shops in our area then. Most everything had to be made from scratch. We had to grow our own vegetables and make bread and butter. Living in ranch country meant meat was always readily available.

It was then I invented what became ‘Mawingu Stew’, our old standby for hordes of visitors around the holidays and on through March when the ‘snowbirds’ flee the unfriendly skies of northern hemispheres to call on their friends in warmer climes.

‘Mawingu’ was the small up-country Hotel that later became the Mount Kenya Safari Club. Amongst the locals it is still known as ‘Mawingu” meaning ‘clouds’ in Kikuyu.

I made Mawingu Stew again recently to feed all my guests at our bush dinner on New Years Eve. It’s a great meal on a cold night.

You will need for 12 people:

  • 4 kg of lean Rump steak, cubed
  • 1 bottle of malt vinegar
  • 1 bottle of the cheapest rough red wine you can find pickling spices including peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves
  • A packet of raisins
  • A packet of German Pumpernickel bread
  • A jar of Sauerkraut, drained
  • Paprika and seasonings


Make a hot marinade from the Malt vinegar, the red wine and water in equal parts. Add six ounces of vegetable oil and the pickling spice and pour over the large cubes of steak until they are covered.

Cool and let stand one or two days in the fridge.

To cook:

Remove and dry the meat, discard most of the marinade, but keep a little to spice up later.

  1. Roll the beef cubes in flower, paprika and garlic and fry in hot bacon fat until very brown on all sides. Season as usual.
  2. Remove to a stew pan and mix the juices from the frying pan with red wine and water to cover the meat and let simmer gently for about an hour.
  3. Now add a handful of raisins and four slices of Pumpernickel bread, crumbled,
  4. Add half a jar of drained Sauerkraut.
  5. Continue to add a little of the saved marinade, water and wine to keep the meat covered, stir frequently and continue to simmer until the meat almost falls apart.
  6. Season to taste and add more raisins for sweetness, more pumpernickel to thicken the stew as desired.

Serve piping hot over potatoes or with French bread.

Eat around the fire and spin a yarn about “the old days” or what grandma used to say…Enjoy!

Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy