Residents of Kiambu town love eating samosas and kaimati from Ronald Cornelius’s kibanda.
While his agemates are busy globe-trotting and dining in fancy hotels, the 55-year-old from Amsterdam, Netherlands, is happy kneading dough to make samosas at the busy Kiambu bus terminus.
His kiosk, nicknamed Kwa Mzungu is a must-stop for drivers and makanga who seem to enjoy his oily kaimati and samosa that cost between Sh10 and Sh30.
The Nairobian visited him when he was preparing samosa pockets in the kibanda with a table, refrigerator, two benches and two plastic chairs, at the spot where he opened shop a few weeks ago.
“I cook and sell samosas, olly balls (Dutch for kaimati), chapati and other dishes and will soon start making Italian pasta. People like it because we give them fresh food everyday. We also observed very high hygiene standards,” says Cornelius, who runs the kiosk with his Kenyan girlfriend with whom he lives in Nairobi. They commute daily to Kiambu to their kibanda.
Just in case you are wondering why he chose to sell food, Cornelius was in the hotel business in Amsterdam for 35 years and draws from his vast experience in culinary arts to attract customers.
His busy location is ideal as he interacts with different clients – from passengers, drivers to conductors.
“People here are more friendly and relaxed. They love my samosa and olly balls. They find it unusual that a mzungu is operating a kibanda. I decided to set up this small business here because it’s the county headquarters, it’s near the city and you can source farm produce cheaply here, unlike Amsterdam where you can only buy them at the supermarket,” explains Cornelius.
He adds that a majority of his clients are women who admire his cooking skills.
“Women flock this place and they particularly love my olly balls. I use apples, flour, sugar, salt and yeast to make the balls. People stand by the roadside to watch me prepare this delicacy. At 11am, the crowd gets big until 2pm. I started the business with Sh400,000 and it is doing very well. I never imagined people would love my cooking”, says Cornelius, who opens his ‘office’ at 8am and heads to the market carrying a sack before closing at 6pm to get enough time to relax and feed his puppy.
Cornelius mints around Sh2,000 to Sh3,000 in a day.
“I love going to the market wearing my apron, interacting with different people and carrying a half full gunia of potatoes on my back excites me”, he says.
When we left him, Cornelius was preparing a meal for one of his employee’s birthday party.