Life. Love. Food

Garlic and Lemon Tilapia Peri Peri

Like many ladies in Nairobi, I always go to Kenyatta Market to have my hair braided. They are not only done cheaply there, but very fast too. I find it comical how the wasusi (salonists) almost come to blows when they spot someone with open hair walking their way. To avoid all that commotion, I have my msusi pick me from the stage when I arrive.  Her name is Connie but I call her Aunty Connie.  She is so nice and I always get braided in her stall. Some weeks back as we snaked our way through the open  fruit market and through the car wash, the aroma of fried tilapia wafted our way. I asked her where I could get some and she promised to direct me after my braids were done. As I got my hair fixed, I thought about all the possible ways I could make my fish (that was before I fell asleep on the salon chair).

I remembered discovering peri peri is what our brothers and sisters down south refer to what we East Africans know as pilipili. It really is the same thing- bird’s eye chilli. Feeling inspired by my new discovery, I decided to make my fish spicy and saucy. I just have to warn you before trying my tilapia peri peri, there is a high possibility that you may develop serious addictions to tilapia cooked with this recipe. It is that good! Proceed.

garlic and lemon tilapia peri peri_tilapia peri peri_how to cook tilapia_kenyan

COOK TIME: 35 MINUTES                                                       SERVES: 1


how to cook tilapia_tilapia peri peri

1 small tilapia fish, fried

1 lemon, juice

1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest

2 birds eye chilli

1/2 a teaspoon of sage

1 teaspoon of black pepper seeds

4 tomatoes, grated

Coriander, finely chopped



In a kinu (pestle and mortar), mince the garlic, the black pepper seeds,sage and the chillies. Set it aside.

grind the black pepper seeds, the chilli and garlis and sage into a fine

In a sufuria heat up your onions and add the paste and cook this until it has softened.

frying chili paste with onions allows the flavors for the tilapia peri peri to develop and become

Add the tomatoes and the lemon juice and let this simmer for about 3-5 minutes. Scoop out 3 table spoonfulls of the tomatoes and set aside. Add the fish in the pan and slather the tomatoes you had scooped out on top of the fish. Sprinkle the lemon zest on top, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. The steam softens the fish, allows the flavors to mix and brings out those oils.

adding lemon zest to the tilapia periperi deepens the flavor and makes it more wholesome_Let this simmer for 20 minutes for the flavors to

Allow it to simmer for about 10-20 minutes. Do not mix as that will make the fish break and come apart.Once you are done, serve and garnish with finely chopped coriander.

garnish the tilapia periperi with freshly chopped coriander and serve

Cook your ugali (or rice), serve some amazing traditional veggies such as creamed managu and have this with your tilapia peri peri. You can serve with some lemon wedges too for an extra boost of zestiness. Spicy, zesty, juicy and perfect!

Kenyan Food_African food _african cuisine_How to cook tilapia by best kenyan food blogger kaluhi

I had this tilapia peri peri nearly every night last week. And as I write this, its all I am thinking about. You too have to make this to experience what a sweet addiction this really is!

Food blogs in Kenya_kenyan food blogs_Best Kenyan Food blogs_tilapia periperi_kenyan food recipes

If you are up for an unforgettable feast, this is for you!!

With Love,


Download the full recipe here:

Kenyan food blog_downloadable recipes

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  1. Debbie

    I know you have heard this before, but I just need to remind you: making such recipes with no culinary training is real talent and a true gift you have. I think I will be making my fish this way from today henceforth.

    • kaluhiskitchen

      I am truly flattered and deeply touched by your kind words! And more so knowing that what I enjoy doing adds value to your life.

      Sending good vibes your way.

  2. Berlyt.

    Haven’t seen fish looking this good!!!Will try your recipe and let you know how it goes.

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Hey Berlyt!
      Thank you for the compliment! I am sure you will end up as obsessed with this recipe as I am :))

  3. evalyne

    i think am in your list of stalking. this really looks amazing and the ease of your recipes just lightens once spirit to cook. 🙂

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Hey Evalyne! You are the kind of stalkers I totally like ;). Thank you so much for your kind words, I am glad I am showing you that cooking really is fun! :))) Cheers.

  4. Njoki

    Cannot wait to try! I have always been petrified of making whole fish (never mind that it is my favorite meal); getting a deep fried one sounds like a deal!
    Two questions:
    1. Can i grill in the oven before doing this (in lieu of deep fried)
    2. Does any store you know stock lemon zest? My grater (Not me!) is just too lazy to do it – i always end up leaving it out of recipes…
    As usual, thanks! You are a charm 🙂

    • kaluhiskitchen

      I had also been very scared in the past. But after several fails and excellent recipes later, its pretty easy.For your questions:

      1. I think you can grill this. Since the whole point of deep frying is to cook the fish and grilling could achieve the same. It is not a method I have tried so I cannot expressly tell you the outcome.

      2.I am yet to see lemon zest stocked in supermarkets. I think keeping it fresh for long would be a real challenge. But making your own takes less that 90 seconds, literally. Just prepare it the first thing before you begin cooking so that you do not forget using it.

      Hope your take on my recipe turns out great ! :))))

      • Njoki

        Will give it a try soon

        • kaluhiskitchen

          Awesome! Do let me know how it goes :))

  5. Sylvia

    Hey Kaluhi!
    I thank and appreciate you for your blog. Your recipes are simple, easy to go about and simply stratospheric!! A happy and healthy world is but an earlier heaven. Thankyou for the positive impact. Love and love.

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Thank you so much Sylvia! You have made me so happy. I pray for strength, and more creativity form God to keep this going. Stay blessed. xx

  6. Eva

    Hey gal, your recipes are always on point. Another self confessed stalker!
    Btw we do our braids at the same place, aunty Connie is the best. Your blog is amaze balls…

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Thank you so much for your compliment Eva :)). All glory to God! Aunty Connie is the best.. Kenyatta Market rocks! LOL

  7. Bree

    Trying this today hope it turns out as perfect as this

    • kaluhiskitchen

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Looking forward to your feedback :))

  8. Beth Evans

    This looks so juicy. I’ll be trying this one soon for sure!

    • kaluhiskitchen

      You will love it!

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