Common Kitchen Swahili Terms for Everyday Love for Cooking

October 23, 2023 No Comments
Kitchen Swahili Terms

The kitchen is undeniably the heart of every home, a place where culinary creativity flourishes and the flavours transform simple ingredients into delectable dishes. This blog explores the common kitchen Swahili terms for everyday love for cooking, where flavours come alive and traditions are passed down through generations. 

These words and phrases are more than just vocabulary; they encapsulate the essence of everyday love for cooking. Whether you’re an aspiring chef, a food enthusiast, or someone looking to connect with the culinary roots of Swahili culture, this exploration will undoubtedly kindle your passion for the culinary arts.

Common Kitchen Swahili Terms

Spoon (Kijiko)

Kitchen Swahili Terms

In Swahili, a “spoon” is called “kijiko.” It is an essential kitchen tool used for various purposes, such as stirring, serving, and tasting dishes. Spoons come in different sizes and shapes, with some designed for specific tasks, like serving soup or stirring coffee. 

In Swahili cuisine, a kijiko is vital in mixing ingredients while preparing dishes like pilau or biryani. It’s a versatile utensil that every kitchen should have.

Example in a sentence

“Nilipika uji na kutumia kijiko kirefu kuchanganya sukari na unga.” 

(I cooked porridge and used a long spoon to mix the sugar and flour.)

Kitchen Swahili Terms: Knife (Kisu)

The Swahili word for “knife” is “kisu.” A kisu is a sharp-edged utensil used for cutting, slicing, and chopping ingredients in the kitchen. It is a fundamental tool for food preparation and is used to slice vegetables, meat, and other food items. In Swahili households, a sharp kisu is highly valued for its efficiency in the kitchen.

Example in a sentence

“Nilitumia kisu kubwa kugawa keki kwa wageni.” 

(I used a large knife to slice the cake for the guests.)

Kitchen Swahili Terms: Gas Cooker (Jiko la Gesi)

Kitchen Swahili Terms

In Swahili, a “gas cooker” is known as “jiko la gesi.” It is a kitchen appliance that uses natural gas or propane to provide a direct flame for cooking. Jiko la gesi is commonly used for preparing various dishes, from simple meals to elaborate feasts, and is known for its efficiency and precise temperature control.

Example in a sentence

“Jiko la gesi ni rahisi kutumia na linapika chakula haraka.” 

(A gas cooker is easy to use and cooks food quickly.)

Cooking Pot (Sufuria ya Kupikia)

A “cooking pot” in Swahili is “sufuria ya kupikia.” It is a container typically made of metal, aluminum, or stainless steel, used for cooking food such as stews, soups, and rice. Sufuria ya kupikia varies in size and is an essential kitchen utensil for simmering, boiling, and slow-cooking various dishes.

Example in a sentence

“Nilinunua sufuria mpya ya kupikia ili kuandaa pilau.” 

(I bought a new cooking pot to prepare pilau.)

Kitchen Swahili Terms: Matchstick (Kiberiti)

Meaning: “Kiberiti” in Swahili refers to a “matchstick.” It is a small stick with a head coated in a flammable substance, used to ignite fires, stoves, or candles. Kiberiti is an essential tool for lighting gas stoves, jikos (charcoal stoves), and candles in Swahili households.

Example in a sentence

“Nilitumia kiberiti kuwasha jiko la gesi.” 

(I used a matchstick to light the gas cooker.)

Plate (Sahani)

“Sahani” in Swahili translates to “plate” in English. It is a flat, typically round dish used for serving food. Plates are made from various materials like ceramic, glass, or plastic. They are an essential part of tableware and are used to present and enjoy a wide variety of dishes in Swahili cuisine.

Example in a sentence 

“Sahani hizi ni nzuri kwa kuweka keki.” 

(These plates are great for serving cake.)

Kitchen Swahili Terms: Cups (Vikombe)

In Swahili, “cups” are referred to as “vikombe.” These are typically vessels designed to hold and serve liquid beverages such as tea, coffee, or water. Vikombe come in various sizes and are commonly used for enjoying hot or cold drinks. They are an integral part of Swahili culture, often used in social gatherings to offer hospitality and refreshments to guests.

Example in a sentence

“Nilitumia vikombe vikubwa kwa chai na vikombe vidogo kwa kahawa.” 

(I used large cups for tea and small cups for coffee.)

Cookbook (Kitabu cha Kupikia)

Kitchen Swahili Terms

“Kitabu cha kupikia” translates to “cookbook” in Swahili. It is a printed or digital publication that provides a collection of recipes and cooking instructions. Kitabu cha kupikia serves as a valuable resource for individuals looking to prepare a variety of dishes, from traditional Swahili recipes to international cuisine.

Example in a sentence

“Nimepata kitabu cha kupikia chenye mapishi ya vyakula vya pwani.” 

(I’ve found a cookbook with recipes for coastal dishes.)

Kitchen Swahili Terms: Bowl (Bakuli)

“Bakuli” in Swahili corresponds to a “bowl” in English. Bakuli is a container with an open, often rounded top used for serving and holding various foods. It is versatile and is employed for various dishes, from soups and salads to rice and desserts in Swahili cuisine.

Example in a sentence

“Ninahitaji bakuli kubwa kwa kuchanganya saladi.” 

(I need a large bowl for mixing the salad.)

Kettle (Birika)

“Birika” is the Swahili term for a “kettle.” It is a vessel with a lid, spout, and handle, primarily used for boiling water or preparing hot beverages such as tea or coffee. Birika is a common sight in Swahili households, especially for the preparation of chai, which is an integral part of the culture.

Example in a sentence

“Ninaweka birika kwenye jiko ili kuchemsha maji kwa chai.” 

(I place the kettle on the stove to boil water for tea.)

Kitchen Swahili Terms: Apron (Apron)

“Apron” remains the same in Swahili and English. An apron is a protective garment worn over clothing, often tied around the back, to shield it from spills, stains, and splatters during cooking or other messy tasks in the kitchen. Aprons are essential for keeping the cook’s clothing clean and are commonly used in Swahili households during food preparation.

Example in a sentence

“Ninavaa apron ili kuwalinda nguo zangu wakati wa kupika.” 

(I wear an apron to protect my clothes while cooking.)

Kitchen Swahili Terms: Cutting Board (Ubao wa Kukatia)

Kitchen Swahili Terms

“Ubao wa kukatia” corresponds to a “cutting board” in English. It is a flat surface, typically made of wood or plastic, used for slicing and chopping food items during food preparation. Ubao wa kukatia is essential for maintaining knife sharpness and protecting countertops from knife marks.

Example in a sentence

“Ninaomba ubao wa kukatia ili kukata mboga kwa mchuzi.” 

(I need a cutting board to chop vegetables for the sauce.)

Kitchen Cabinets (Makabati ya Jikoni)

“Makabati ya Jikoni” are storage units or cupboards designed for storing kitchen utensils, cookware, and pantry items. Kitchen cabinets are an essential element of kitchen organization and are commonly used to keep the kitchen tidy and free from clutter. They come in various designs and sizes to accommodate different kitchen spaces and storage needs.

Example in a sentence

“Nimefanya maboresho jikoni kwa kuongeza makabati ya jikoni zaidi.” 

(I’ve renovated the kitchen by adding more kitchen cabinets.)

Salt (Chumvi)

“Chumvi” translates to “salt” in Swahili. It is a crystalline mineral substance primarily used to enhance the flavor of food. Salt is an essential ingredient in cooking, as it adds taste and helps to preserve certain foods. In Swahili cuisine, chumvi is used to season a wide range of dishes, from savoury stews to grilled meats.

Example in a sentence

“Chumvi ni kiungo muhimu katika kupika, inatoa ladha nzuri kwenye chakula.” 

(Salt is a crucial ingredient in cooking; it adds great flavour to the food.)

Kitchen Swahili Terms: Sugar (Sukari)

“Sukari” is the Swahili term for “sugar.” It is a sweet, crystalline substance derived from various sources like sugarcane or sugar beets. Sukari is a common sweetener used in a wide array of dishes and beverages in Swahili cuisine, from sweet tea to desserts.

Example in a sentence

“Ninahitaji sukari ili kuoka keki tamu.” 

(I need sugar to bake a sweet cake.)

Wooden Spoon (Kijiko cha mbao)

A “wooden spoon” is a kitchen utensil made from wood, typically used for stirring, mixing, and serving food. Wooden spoons are valued for their durability and are commonly used in Swahili households for various cooking tasks.

Example in a sentence

“Nilitumia kijiko cha kuni/mbao kuchanganya viungo vyangu.” 

(I used a wooden spoon to mix my ingredients.)

Kitchen Swahili Terms: Kitchen Towel (Kitambaa cha Jikoni)

Kitchen Swahili Terms

“Kitambaa cha Jikoni” translates to “kitchen towel” in English. It is a cloth or towel used in the kitchen for various purposes, including drying hands, cleaning surfaces, and handling hot cookware. Kitchen towels are essential for maintaining cleanliness and safety in the kitchen.

Example in a sentence

“Kitambaa cha jikoni kinaweza kutumiwa kufuta mikono baada ya kupika.” 

(A kitchen towel can be used to dry hands after cooking.)


In the world of culinary artistry, language is the bridge that connects us to the flavours, traditions, and heart of the kitchen. As we’ve explored common Swahili kitchen terms, we’ve learned about utensils and ingredients and delved into the essence of everyday love for cooking. 

These words are a testament to the rich cultural heritage and the vibrant tapestry of Swahili cuisine.

So, as you embark on your culinary adventures, armed with these Swahili terms, may your kitchen be a place of creativity and joy, where everyday love for cooking is celebrated in every dish you prepare and every flavour you savour.

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I'm an elementary school teacher who loves what she does! I enjoy creating resources in my Native language "kiswahili". My goal is to spread the beautiful language of "Kiswahili" inside and outside the classroom. Thanks for stopping by! Read More

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