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Swahili Names for Common Vegetables, Herbs & Spices

Most of the common vegetables in Kenya are often referred to by their English names rather than their Swahili equivalent. Good examples include spinach, carrot, and cabbage.

This makes sense since a majority of these vegetables are exotic to these parts despite how commonplace they’re today. Herbs and spices often get a similar treatment with the exception being regions where spicy dishes are a long-standing tradition e.g. the Kenyan coast.

The more obvious exception however are the traditional, or rather indigenous vegetables, which tend to be referred in their vernacular. Good examples include the likes of Terere, Managu, Kunde and Mrenda.

Below is a list of translations for some common vegetables and herbs & spices to clear the confusion as to their Swahili or English names.

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Vegetables

Note: Names in the brackets are vernacular (not Swahili) to help with identification.

EnglishSwahili
African nightshadeMnavu (‘Managu‘)
AmaranthusMchicha (‘Terere‘)
Beetroot / BeetKiazisukari
Bitter LettuceMchunga
BroccoliBrokoli
CabbageKabichi
Capsicum / Bell PeppersPilipili Hoho
CarrotKaroti
Cassava LeavesKisamvu
CauliflowerKoliflawa / Kolimaua
CeleryFigili
Collard Greens / KaleSukuma / Sukumawiki
CucumberTango / Tangopepeta
Courgette / ZucchiniMung’unye
EggplantBiringanya / Mbilinganyi
French BeansMaharagwe ya Kifaransa
GarlicKitunguu Saumu
Green BeansMaharage Mabichi
Green PeasNjegere
Jute MallowBunani (‘Mrenda‘)
LeekLiki
LettuceSaladi
MushroomUyoga
OkraBamia
OnionKitunguu
PotatoesViazi
PumpkinMalenge / Boga
Spider PlantMgagani (‘Saget‘)
SpinachSpinachi
Sweet PotatoesViazi Vitamu
Sweet Potato LeavesMatembele
Taro Root / ArrowrootMagimbi / Majimbi (Nduma)
TomatoNyanya
TurnipMkereza
White EggplantNyanya Chungu
YamKiazi Kikuu
Swahili Translation for Common Vegetables
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Herbs and Spices

EnglishSwahili
BasilMrihani/ Mrehani
Black PepperPilipili Manga
CarawayKisibiti
CardamomIliki
Cayenne pepperPilipili Kichaa / Mwachaka / Udaha
Chilli PepperPilipili
CinnamonMdalasini
ChivesKitunguu Jani
ClovesKarafuu
CorianderGiligilani (Dhania or Dania)
Cumin SeedsJira
FenugreekUwatu
GingerTangawizi
Habanero ChilliMbuzi / Pilipili Mbuzi
LemongrassMchaichai
MustardHaradali
NutmegKungumanga
ParsleyKitimiri / Kotimiri
TurmericBizari / Manjano.
SaffronZafarani
Swahili Translations for Common Herbs and Spices

Other Translations

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Kelvin Kathia

Kelvin is the editor of Tubytes. A long-standing blogger, he's passionate about writing, music and helping where he can in this little corner of the internet.

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