Fat Mama’s Kitchen is a vegetarian Indian restaurant that sprung up about a year ago in the car-free zone in town. It’s a simple place with good food at cheap prices and it seems to have grown to become a popular stop for area office workers for lunch. I’m not sure I can think of another purposefully vegetarian restaurant in Kigali so if you’re looking for somewhere that won’t serve up our fellow earthlings in a masala sauce, then this is your place!
The atmosphere at Fat Mama’s Kitchen is nothing special, but it’s sort of special in its lack of specialness. Yes, that sentence made sense in my head. The setting here is low-key and simple and the staff aren’t dressed in an elaborate Indian garb of some sort and there are no elephant statues or water features to be seen. It’s a simple diner-style setup with around eight tables in front of a giant window that looks out over the car-free zone. Not having outdoor seating is a bit of a drag but it means it’s a perfect spot on a rainy day. Plus the prices certainly reflect their lack of design extras… Fat Mama’s is the cheapest Indian place in Kigali that I’ve found.
The good thing is that they manage to put out very affordable food without sacrificing the quality. As an example, the samosas here are probably the best in town… which I know is a huge statement given the love of samosas in this city. They’re gigantic, stuffed with deliciousness, and the pastry is the crispiest I’ve found anywhere. They hook you up with a couple of nice sauces and if you’re looking for something a bit more extravagant, try the samosa chaat (Rwf 1,500) for a mashed up samosa topped with yoghurt, chutney, red onions, and crispy things. This is probably the best value snack in Kigali and would do as lunch for one if you weren’t too hungry.
Their popular shahi paneer (Rwf 3,000) has cubes of the cheese in a sauce with a lovely flavour of cardamom. Being a veggie restaurant, there are lots of paneer dishes and they also have a few mains made with mushrooms. The most expensive main dish here is Rwf 4,500 and the cheapest is Rw 2,500. The prices really are amazing, especially considering the portions are only a little smaller than what you’d get at Zaaffran or Khana Khazana and the price of each dish is around 50% lower. I’d give the palak paneer at Zaaffran the nod over the one at Fat Mama’s, though. Plus their naan isn’t quite as light and fluffy. But I think Zaaffran is some of the best Indian food I’ve ever eaten so the standard is high! But really… for the price, Fat Mama’s really can’t be beaten.
Papri chaat (Rwf 2,500) has been a recent discovery for me and I’m wondering how I’ve loved Indian food for so long without even knowing of its existence. A tragedy! It’s a pretty weird combination of things and doesn’t seem at all appealing at first glance. However the combination of the cold yoghurt, hot potatoes, tangy chutney, and crunchy whatever-they-ares on top is a perfect combination. It’s a popular North Indian street food dish and it’s perfect for a quick lunch and lighter than many of the thick curries.
I’ve been told that dosas are more of a South Indian thing and few places in Kigali seem to have them. The Khana Khazana at KCT used to sell them but they’ve since closed and their other restaurants don’t serve dosa. But people love these things so I thought I’d point out that Fat Mama’s has masala, vegetable, plain, and cheese dosas to choose from.
I’ve noticed that their menu has expanded since the last time I was here to include all of the usual Rwandan favourites like spaghetti (Rwf 2,000), chow mein (Rwf 2,000), hot dogs (Rwf 1,500), chips with salad (Rwf 2,000), and a selection of sandwiches (Rwf 1,000 to 1,500). I can’t vouch for any of these dishes, though, since ordering spaghetti at an Indian restaurant would be the saddest thing ever.
Service here is friendly but it’s not the quickest. The food comes out reasonably fast, but each time I’ve gone there has only been one waiter who’s been run off his feet a bit. He ushers the food out quickly when he has it but he seems to spend a good amount of his time in the kitchen and less time greeting new arrivals with a menu. I usually just grab a menu off of the counter when I walk in so I can be ready with my order when he makes his way over to me.
Their selection of drinks is pretty good with iced tea (Rwf 800) and coffee (Rwf 1,200) along with milkshakes including a blackcurrent shake (Rwf 1,500) which is something I haven’t seen anywhere else in Kigali. They have plain (Rwf 800) and mango lassis (Rwf 1,000) which or both a steal at those prices for a pretty large glass of goodness.
Fat Mama’s aren’t on Jumia Food but they’ll deliver with their own transport and will charge depending on distance. Just give them a call. They’ll also prepare food for parties. Also extremely important… they were playing The Cranberries when I was there so huge bonus points for that. Any restaurant with their music taste stuck in the 90’s like me will always have a special place in my heart.
Though I am a die hard fan of Zaaffran and my allegiances lie with them, I do have to admit that Fat Mama’s beats them (and any other Indian place) on value. Their papri chaat and samosa chaat are two of my favourite dishes in Kigali and it’s impossible to find anything better value than those. Even better… if you’re a vegetarian there’s no need to worry about meat sneaking into any of your dishes by accident here… so that’s a bonus!
I’m a big fan of this place. Give it a try and let us all know what you think in the comments below!
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 8am – 8pm, Closed Sunday
Phone: 0789 538 932 / 0736 416 032