Creamy Bitterless Managu Recipe (African Nightshade)

17 April 2023|Kenyan Recipes

This a recipe on how to properly cook delicious managu, and how to actually make it not bitter at all.

Ugali Managu
Ugali Managu

Managu is known as African Nightshade in English. Its scientific name is Solanum villosum. Its leaves and shoots are eaten as a vegetable.

So essentially managu is an indigenous traditional vegetable. These traditional vegetables are known as mboga za kienyeji. Other examples of kienyeji include Terere, Kunde, sagaa, mrenda, and mchicha.

I just miss the days when kienyeji only meant vegetables and free-range chicken.

The other name of managu is osuga

Managu is naturally bitter but bitterness can be suppressed by specific cooking methodology discussed later.

The different types of managu include; Ethiopian nightshade, black nightshade(has black fruits), and hairy nightshade(orange fruits). 

Enough with the science, traditionally managu was used for medicinal and food purposes. Also note that some species of managu contain toxins, especially the unripe fruits when consumed in large quantities so exercise caution. 

Managu can be dehydrated or dried( dried managu) and still pack good minerals and nutrients. This is convenient for Kenyans away from home. 

Now let’s dive into this easy managu recipe. It is probably one of the best ways to prepare this vegetable.

African Nightshade(Managu) Plant
African Nightshade(Managu) Plant


  •   2-3 Bunches of managu
  •  Vegetable Oil
  •  1 Tomato
  •  1 Onion
  •  Fresh Milk Butter Milk, Sour Cream or Mala (OPTIONAL)
  •  Optional: Ginger, Garlic, Bell Peppers
  •  Optional: Spices of your choice
Ugali, Managu, Mala
Ugali, Managu, Mala


  1. Sort and wash your managu thoroughly
  2. Pick off the leaves from the stalks 
  3. Optionally slice the leaves or leave them whole as they shrink and wilt upon cooking
  4. Boil or steam the leaves in water (enough to submerge) for 15 to 20 minutes on medium heat till the water turns green. Don’t cook them completely.
  5. Drain the water using a colander and run over cold water to prevent further cooking, set your boiled managu aside.
  6. Dice up your onion, garlic, tomatoes, ginger, and bell peppers. Use whatever you got but at least have onions and tomatoes
  7. Add oil to a saucepan or pot, when hot add onions, cook till translucent then follow with garlic ginger tomatoes, and bell peppers in that order. Cook till everything is reduced, thick, and consistent. Add salt, it’s at this point you can add your desired spices
  8. Add your drained managu in and cook till the doneness you love. Again, don’t cook them to browning tho, because you’ll have overcooked them. Dark green is just fine.
  9. Add milk or cream after about 5 minutes let it simmer and cover 
  10. Once done turn the heat off, let it set for 3 to 5 minutes then serve hot with ugali…(honestly, I can’t think of anything that accompanies managu)
Managu with Ugali and Matumbo(Tripe)
Managu with Ugali and Matumbo(Tripe)


  1. Washing is key, you don’t want soil particles in your delicious managu. (unless you love the surprise crunch) Considering the plant grows to short heights, it collects alot of soil particles in the garden. Wash with running water for best cleaning results. You might wanna sort out your managu for other weeds that may be accidentally harvested.
  2. Get the good stuff, go for the organically grown from the local market. Why would you buy managu from the supermarket? It is fresher in the open market, cheaper even, and you support small traders.
  3. The milk or cream addition helps neutralize the bitterness in managu and so does boiling before frying. You can use any milk, cow’s, coconut, almond and buttermilk (mala). For the best results use buttermilk as its acidity (Lactic Acid)  tenderizes the managu by breaking it down. You can make buttermilk by combining fresh milk with vinegar or get the store-bought version.
  4. You can save up the stock from the boiled vegetables for use later in case your managu dries up on frying so don’t drain it all to the sink.
  5. To make it Really Kenyan use Royco to elevate the flavors and hide the fact that you can’t cook. Just a sprinkle will transform your basic managu into a culinary art and get you Michelin-starred. Gordon Ramsay and his camera crew might even pay you a visit.
  6. Serve with a protein of choice to make it a balanced diet, managu pairs really well with matumbo and ugali for some reason.

Nutritional Information

Managu is nutrient-rich in the following;

Dietary Fiber: Maintaining healthy digestion health and preventing constipation and stomach bloating, the stems of managu actually pack alot of that roughage, so you might wanna chop some of them in if you don’t mind the texture.

Iron: Essential for hemoglobin production, an oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells. This prevents serious conditions like anemia 

Vitamin C: Also known as ascorbic acid. It has many functions involving general immune and skin health.

Vitamin A: Required for proper eyesight 

Proteins: Protein is crucial in bodybuilding and cell repairs

Calcium: Important for maintaining strong bones and teeth

among others

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