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Kenyan restaurant Alando’s Cuisine brings new flavor to Bethlehem

Posted by Administrator on December 6, 2011

At first glance, it may not be apparent that Alando’s Cuisine is a Kenyan restaurant.

The full coffee counter up front that includes cakes, pastries and frappes is a bit misleading.

Chelsea SheridanExterior shot of Alando Kenyan Cuisine on Main Street on the North Side.

The employees dressed down in their matching T-shirts may make passerbys believe it to be nothing more than a neighborhood coffee shop; but it isn’t.

Beyond the coffee counter there is an almost-hidden back area.

The African decorations and the cozy space transform Alando’s from a student workspace into a casual restaurant.

At this divide, a large banner stretches across the ceiling saying: “Take your taste buds on a safari.”

There is, in fact, a safari-like theme in the decor. Paper mache masks of elephants, antelopes and lions hang from the ceiling. Photographs of actual wildlife and traditional African paintings line the walls.

The brown and orange paint casts deep shadows on this back portion of Alando’s, making it a much more intimate spot for lunch or dinner.

Alando’s opened last May. Born and raised in Kenya, chef and owner Emily Nyindodo said she has always loved to cook. Her grandmother – whom Alando’s was named after – taught her the traditional ways and techniques of African dishes.

When speaking about her grandmother, Nyindodo said: “She believed in cooking fresh and taking the time to produce the best meal. If she was going to make a meal, it had to be pure.”

Nyindodo said artificial meat and spices would not be used under her grandmother’s watch.

“She was an honest cook,” Nyindodo said.

Even now in Bethlehem, far away from her home in Kenya, Nyindodo said she continues using this valuable lesson she learned from her grandmother. Alando’s uses fresh ingredients including cilantro, scallions and peppers. Almost the entire menu is made up of traditional Kenyan food, with a few of Nyindodo’s own creations.

What started out as a hobby eventually grew into Nyindodo’s career. In the United States, she had hosted small parties for her friends and did some personal chef work, but it was never something she thought about pursuing professionally.

Before opening up Alando’s, Nyindodo worked at IBM. Her background was in information technology and project management. She began to take her cooking to Quakertown, Pa., where there was a weekend farmer’s market. This worked around her career. Soon after, things changed, but not necessarily for the worst.

“Two years ago I was laid off,” she said. “So I thought I might as well take [my hobby] to another level.”

That’s when Nyindodo decided to buy the space that is now Alando’s.

The menu is friendly to both vegetarians and meat lovers. Some vegetarian dishes include vegetable masala cooked with green peas, carrots and sautéed over a vegetable masala spice. It comes with either rice or chapati, a flatbread with cardamom spices. There is a chicken version of the masala.

Additionally, Alando’s offers an extensive list of chicken, beef and seafood options. These include a cardamom chicken made with ginger, garlic, cream and cilantro, and a beef karanga, which is small pieces of beef sautéed with garlic, onions, cilantro, and served with cornmeal mash (ugali) or collard greens (sukuma wiki).

The menu does not stop there however; customers can also choose from soups, such as an African peanut soup, chilis, salads and appetizers such as lentil samosas. Alando’s also prides itself on making its own hot sauce called pili pili. It can be purchased at the restaurant and is also put out on each table during meals.

Eliza Zweig, ’12, said the dishes look unusual for Bethlehem. Studying abroad in South Africa last semester, Zweig had a taste of African food.

“I have never tried Kenyan food before, but in South Africa, I got a taste of the tender meats and sauces that are used in traditional African dishes,” she said.

Since being back in the U.S., Zweig has been unable to encounter anything close to what she ate in Africa.

“I saw Alando’s for the first time in August as I drove by, and I knew right away that I had to try it,” she said. “The dishes look great and definitely remind me of similar ingredients and authentic spices that were used in South Africa.”

Alando’s Cuisine is located at 520 Main St. It is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Delivery options are available; however there is a minimum charge based on location.

Source: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/thebrownandwhiteblog/index.ssf/2011/12/post_25.html

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One Response to “Kenyan restaurant Alando’s Cuisine brings new flavor to Bethlehem”

  1. mwangi said

    Go gal cook and we wish you success!

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