Mayai Pasua Is The Fresh, Herby Hard-Boiled Egg You Must Try

Hard-boiled eggs are a snacking mainstay for a reason. They are affordable, proteinaceous, and of course, delicious. They are tasty simply adorned with a sprinkle of salt and pepper or a drizzle of hot sauce, but hard-boiled eggs can also be a great vehicle for bright herbs and vegetables. Take a page from this Kenyan street food, and add mayai pasua to your boiled egg rotation.

The name of the dish says a lot about how it is prepared. Mayai means "eggs," and pasua means "split." A hard-boiled egg is sliced nearly in half lengthwise, folded open, and stuffed with kachumbari — a simple salad of tomato, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, and sometimes green chilies as well. The snack is topped off with a squirt of sauce, often hot sauce, tomato sauce, or good old ketchup. Mayai pasua street vendors will also sell smokie pasua where a beef sausage is split and stuffed in the same way.

British colonists and immigrants from India — another British colony — brought foods and traditions from the Asian subcontinent to present-day Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Kachumbari is one of the many dishes of Indian origin that became ingrained in East African cuisine.

How to make mayai pasua

Fans of this Kenyan bite insist that it will not taste the same without the fumes and dust of a busy city street, but if a trip to Kenya is out of the question, mayai pasua is a simple dish to prepare at home. Start with the boiled eggs. There are tons of hard-boiled egg tricks, so stick to the ones that work for you. However, when it comes to peeling them, the spoon hack is common with mayai pasua vendors. Tap the shell all over with the rounded side of the spoon. Then, flip the spoon, and using the tip of the concave side, slide the spoon under the shell and membrane. Run the spoon along the curve of the egg, and the shell should come off easily.

As for the kachumbari, the shape the vegetables are cut in can vary, but a fine dice makes sense for this application. Red onion is common, but any kind of onion will work. Toss finely diced onions in salt or soak them in water if you want to temper the harshness of the raw onion. Then, stir together with diced tomato, chopped cilantro, fresh chilies, and lemon juice. This simple salad is bright, refreshing, spicy, and acidic, and it pairs perfectly with the savory and creamy egg.

Kachumbari is an ideal accompaniment for many Kenyan foods

Try another mayai and kachumbari combination with chipsi mayai. At its most basic, chipsi mayai includes nothing more than French fries cooked into an egg omelet, but it can also include sauteed onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and cayenne pepper. When paired with kachumbari, you get both the depth of the cooked vegetables and brightness of the fresh ones.

Kachumbari provides a delightfully tangy foil not just to creamy eggs, but also to smoky grilled meats. Skewers of flavorful meats called mshikaki go hand-in-hand with this acidic salad. Beef, chicken, or goat are marinated with ingredients like garlic, ginger, chili powder, and turmeric along with lemon juice, vinegar, or papaya for tenderization. More simply seasoned chunks of barbecued meat called nyama choma is another dish that is often served alongside this salad. Seasoned rice dishes like biryani and pilau both have Indian roots, so they naturally pair well with kachumbari, too. When you are making mayai pasua, make sure to prepare extra kachumbari so you can recreate many essential Kenyan dishes.