Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk with Bean Fritters)

What are your favourite food smells? For me, you can’t get any better than veggies roasting over an open fire. The flavours of corn, aubergines, peppers and okra and onions are all heightened when you introduce them to flames. I have such precious memories of holidaying in Mombasa, melting away in the smell of fire-roasted maize on the cob, mohogo and sweet potatoes. These, combined with the lingering smell of hot coals, gasoline and frying potatoes in the salty, coastal air transports me to a happy place that’s almost as comforting as the welcoming warmth of my bed at home.

Makai Paka & Maraghwe Bhajiya

I’m lucky enough to have grown up with three cultures; British, Indian and Kenyan. I grew up in the 90s, lived in an all-white area and was forever told that my house/packed lunch/hair always “smells like curry” by my peers. If that wasn’t odd enough, I was also the only vegetarian at school (remember this was before “plant-based” and “vegan” diets were mainstream and instafamous). When my lunches weren’t cucumber sandwiches and crisps, they were eyeballed with a mixture of curiosity and fear. Ghee-cooked thepla, bateta nu shaak, dahi and samosas. Those lunches were always the most delicious. By the time I got to 15, I stopped giving a toss about what others thought, cooked shaak-rotli in my home ec classes and often came home empty handed because my friends had eaten it all. My parents were flabbergasted.

The self-conscious episodes of my youth have made me incredibly proud of my triple-cultured upbringing. Being a British Indian with East African roots is what’s made me who I am today. We ate the best, most varied meals and connected over food in the most wonderful way. Each meal was a talking point; it had a story and there were facts, techniques and anecdotes behind it. Even now, we talk about our favourite family dishes daily.

Makai Paka & Maraghwe Bhajiya

British sweetcorn is abundant at this time of year and we’ve eaten it in so many different ways over the past two weeks. Now although I could snaffle an entire cob of buttery, roasted corn every evening, I wanted to share something special with you.

My Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya is a stew-like dish of sweetcorn cooked in coconut milk with crispy, spicy kidney bean fritters on top. The bhajiya soak up some of the coconut milk like dumplings, yet still have a crispy, cragginess I adore. If you like Gujarati-style Kidney Beans & Sweetcorn nu Shaak, you will love this dish.

Makai Paka is a Kenyan speciality, most popular amongst the South Asian community but enjoyed by families all over and in restaurants. Other non-vegetarian varieties exist in the form of Kuku Paka (chicken) and Machli Paka (fish). The Makai Paka is vegan and usually incorporates large pieces of corn on the cob simmered in coconut milk but I wanted to create a version you need only a bowl and spoon to enjoy. Also, stripping the corn kernels off the cob after its been roasted is such a satisfying process.

The spices in this dish are simple, as with all East African dishes. Traditionally, you should let the ingredients do the talking and use spices sparingly to enhance them. The only rule is to balance sweet, salty, hot and sour, as is also the case with traditional Gujarati cooking.

Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk Topped with Crispy Bean Fritters)

Makai Paka is a Kenyan speciality, most popular amongst the South Asian community but enjoyed by families all over. Other non-vegetarian varieties exist in the form of Kuku Paka (chicken) and Machli Paka (fish). My Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya is a stew-like dish of sweetcorn cooked in coconut milk with crispy, spicy kidney bean fritters on top.

For the Makai Paka:

  • 3 large whole sweetcorn ((you can also use 600g tinned or frozen corn))
  • 1 medium potato ((cubed into 1cm pieces))
  • 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 green chillies ((chopped))
  • 2 cloves garlic ((crushed))
  • 350 ml water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt ((or to taste))

For the Maharaghwe Bhajiya:

  • 400 g cooked kidney beans, drained and washed ((I use tinned))
  • 140 g chickpea flour
  • 2 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 green chilli ((chopped))
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder ((optional))
  • 2 cloves garlic ((crushed))
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Vegetable or sunflower oil for deep frying

For the Makai Paka:

  1. Roast the sweetcorn over a flame on your gas cooker. You can also place it under the grill or on a barbecue until it has black spots all over. If you’re using tinned or frozen corn, dry roast them in a smoking-hot non-stick pan. Allow to cool.
  2. Strip the kernels from the cob and set aside.
  3. In a large pan, add the water, coconut milk, chillies, garlic, turmeric and salt. Bring to a boil and add the potatoes and corn. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and coriander and remove from the heat.

For the Maharaghwe Bhajiya:

  1. Heat a wok or deep pan with oil to 160°C/320°F. Use a teaspoon to carefully drop small portions of the batter into the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden and crispy.
  2. Serve the Makai Paka in bowls and top with the Maharagwe Bhajiya.

Pin it for later!

Makai Paka & Maharagwe Bhajiya (Sweetcorn in Coconut Milk Topped with Crispy Bean Fritters)

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua – Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts (Vegan)

Jambo! Flicking through hard to come by East African cookbooks fills me with that familiar, comforting feeling of when I cosy up with my favourite Indian ones. Exotic spices, simple veggies and coconut milk everything is what makes it feel so fresh, vibrant and soul warming.

Being nourished with a mishmash of Indian, African and British food has all my life, allowed me to connect and experiment with the culinary cultures of all these cuisines. In other words, I’ve been spoilt and have loved every minute of it. Hell, I’ve been rabbiting on about it to you all since I started this blog in 2009 (yeah, it’s been that long!)

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

For my generation, it feels like the Indian influence on East African cooking is a hush-hush camp, with recipes hidden away inside the spirits of expat grandparents, parents, aunties and uncles. As sad as it may sound, I’m a 29-year old who’s worried that Zanzibar Trail Mix, Malindi Halwa and Ugandan Kasodi will one day be forgotten. We can’t let that happen, guys!

In the name of doing my bit to preserve the East African cuisine so many Asian-East Africans are so proud of, I’d like to introduce you to Vitumbua. These Tanzanian rice flour doughnuts are a favourite of my saintly Bapu, Gunwantrai Modha and I completely understand why. Born in Tanzania, my dad his brothers think of these dishes as fuel food – they’re good for the soul and all that.

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

Vitumbua should be golden and crunchy on the outside and like a delicate morsel of cardamom-scented cloud on the inside. The batter is made with coconut milk which makes these cakey doughnuts pure white in the middle and melt-in-the-mouth.

The leavening agent in my version is yeast but many recipes also use baking powder. Traditionally, they’re made using rice that’s been soaked overnight but I’ve simplified it slightly by using rice flour which is so readily available in shops these days. Of course, if you can’t find rice flour, go ahead and use soaked raw rice.

My fluffy Vitumbua are perfect with tea in the morning or if you’re a bit more adventurous, with a spicy kidney bean and coconut stew for dinner. Sweet and savoury is so lush!

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

If you have a Vitumbua or Appam/Paniyaram pan, please use one. If you don’t, you can use a greased cupcake tin. You’ll need to bake them in a 180C oven for 10 minutes, flipping them over halfway through the cooking time.

I’ve dusted my Vitumbua with cardamom sugar which isn’t traditional but it adds a delicious additional cardamom kick on top of what’s already in the batter. I find that finishing a dish with gentle spices is a bold way of bringing another dimension to the table.

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua – Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

These light and fluffy East African coconut and cardamom doughnuts just melt in your mouth. They’re perfect with masala chai and are a popular street food all over Tanzania.

For the vitumbua batter

  • 220 g rice flour
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 7 g fast-action dried yeast
  • 200 ml warm water ((approx. 32°C))
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds (from 5-6 cardamom pods) (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract ((optional))

For the cardamom icing sugar

  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 whole cardamom pods (seeds remove and finely ground)
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the rice flour, plain flour, sugar, salt, ground cardamom and dried yeast.

  2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and then add the coconut milk, warm water, oil and vanilla/almond extract (if using). Whisk the ingredients well until you have a smooth, lump-free batter. It should be the consistency of dosa or idli batter. Cover with cling film and allow the batter to rest in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.

  3. Grease a 12-hole vitumbua or appam/paniyaram pan with sunflower or vegetable oil. By now, your batter should be bubbly and frothy. Allow the pan to heat up a little and then use a small jug or cup to fill the holes of the pan with the batter, almost right to the top.

  4. Cook on a low heat until the tops of the batter is looks dry to the touch, about 3 minutes. Use a cocktail stick to flip the vitumbua over. They should be golden brown on the bottom. Cook the other side for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Use the cocktail stick to remove them from the pan.

  5. To make the cardamom sugar, combine the icing sugar and ground cardamom. Use a tea strainer or small sieve to dust the sugar over the top. Serve the vitumbua immediately with hot masala chai or strong coffee.

  • This recipe makes 48 small vitumbua, serving about 8 people.
  • I bought my paniyaram pan from an Indian kitchenware store in Leicester, UK. You can also buy these online. Look out for a heavy, non-stick piece of kit rather than steel to make removing the vitumbua easier.
  • Alternatively, you can also use a cupcake tin. Your vitumbua will be larger, disc shaped doughnuts but they’ll still taste great. Ensure the tin is well greased and fill the cupcake holes just halfway before popping into an oven pre-heated at 180°C for 10 minutes. Flip them halfway through baking.
  • Store cooked vitumbua in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


Pin the image below to save to your Pinterest board for later!

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

I had five new recipes lined up, ready to photograph and post but last week when I shared a photo of my dad’s signature Channa Bateta, I was inundated with requests on Facebook and Instagram for the recipe. This made me super nostalgic, thinking back to the days when I’d come home from school and my dad would proudly say, “Jo, Ravi, Sanju, I’ve made Channa Bateta for you all.” A large pot of simmering golden liquid would puff up steam that filled the kitchen and my nostrils with the aroma of fresh green chillies and turmeric. It was heaven. I’d be first in line, queuing up with my bowl to ladle in the potato and chickpea broth and subsequently hit up all the extra toppings laid out like a burger bar. The recipe here includes a range of topping options but how you customise your bowl is all down to your personal taste. I’ve often only topped this with coriander and crisps. If you only have the time and energy to pick one topping, choose the crisps. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

Channa Bateta (or CBs as we called it as kids) was the simplest of dishes using very few ingredients, but dad would put his heart and soul into it. He’s always been a well-seasoned cook and one that adds a fistful of this, a splash of that and a pinch of something else… and he makes cooking East African classics like Channa Bateta look so easy he could be doing it with his eyes shut. The son of two brilliant cooks, he acts as cool as cucumber raita about his mad skills and he nails flavour-packed East African dishes, chutneys and chaats every time. He’s got “chatpata” (hot, sour and sweet) flavours down. What I owe him greatly for is his wonderful encouragement and support over the years with my cooking. I started out as a curious toddler with a taste for Doodh and Khichri (stewed rice and lentils with milk). It was my equivalent of porridge and I’d wolf it down as I watched my Mum roll rotlis, thinking I wanted to be just like her when I was big enough to reach the stove. She’d give me pieces of dough to practice rolling and I’d sit on the floor cross legged in the tiny kitchen above our shop and roll rotlis using my coveted kids chapatti set from Popat’s, an Indian homeware store in Wembley. Needless to say, my rotlis totally sucked. They weren’t soft round, they were chunky frisbees of play-doh which my mum would still pop on to the tawa and cook into a biscuitty puck. And it was dad who would eat them up and tell me how delicious they were. Everything I know is down to those “map-of-Britain” monstrosities that were only fit for the bin. If he hadn’t have eaten them and told me they were great, I’d probably never have fallen in love with cooking and trying my absolute best in sharing that passion with others. So thank you Dad, you’re the source of my motivation, determination and self belief.

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

At home, if ever a bag of Seabrook Ready Salted crisps, Kenya Chevdo (a kind of potato-based trail mix) and lemon wedges were on the counter top and I instantly knew Channa Bateta was for dinner. You see, this dish is traditionally served with a crispy topping that comes in the form of said crisps, chevdo or even cassava crisps. A squeeze of lemon brings the whole thing together so what you’re left with is an orchestra of tender potatoes and chickpeas, a spicy chilli-laced coconut broth, fresh and fragrant coriander, a crunchy potato chip topping and sour raw mango chutney that brings the entire thing to life. It’s so balanced, filling and flavoursome… and all without trying too hard.

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

I posted a recipe for Mombasa-Style Kachri Bateta before which is a similar kind of thing but uses sour tamarind as the broth base. Channa Bateta is quicker and the heartier of the two. Filling carbs like potatoes, cassava and ugali are the essential sources of energy in East Africa. People work long hours, often have multiple jobs and of course, it’s damn hot. Usually what’s needed is a hearty, energy-rich bowl of stew or savoury porridge to keep bodies fuelled throughout the day.

I use tinned chickpeas because life is too short when you’re just home from work and are in need of a quick-fix meal (and that’s what this is). If you follow this recipe, it should take no longer than 20 minutes from start to finish. And that’s not including time to do the washing up which, if you were really smart, you’d enlist a minion to do for you. You should then put your feet up and wait for this to bubble away, filling your home with the smell of the simplest Indian-African dish there ever was.

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

Dad’s 20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

Serves 4

1kg baby new potatoes, steamed and peeled
2 x 400g tins chickpeas (drained weight 480g in total)
8-10 curry leaves
400ml full-fat coconut milk
800ml hot water
2 tsp turmeric
Juice of 1 lemon
2 chillies, chopped (adjust to your taste)
1/2 raw green mango, peeled and grated
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

For the Channa Bateta toppings bar
1 red onion, finely diced
2 tbsp chopped coriander
4 packs of salted crisps/potato chips, crushed (you could also use cassava chips)
4 tbsp Kenyan Chevdo and/or Jinni Sev (trail mix), optional – you can buy these in many Asian supermarkets
Green chutney, to taste (recipe below)
Tamarind chutney, optional
Daal vada, optional
Red chilli powder, optional

For the Raw Mango and Coconut Chutney
1/2 raw green mango, grated
1 whole fresh coconut, shelled, peeled and grated (the coconut water is the chef’s treat)
100g fresh coriander
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
240ml cold water


1. Pour the coconut milk and water into a large pan. Add the curry leaves, chopped chilli, turmeric, green mango, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil.

2. Add in the chickpeas and potatoes, along with the lemon juice.

3. Simmer on a medium/low heat for 15 minutes with the lid on.

4. Ladle into a bowl and customise with all your favourite toppings. Serve immediately.

5. To make the Raw Mango and Coconut Chutney: Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until you have a semi-coarse, bright green chutney.

20-Minute Channa Bateta (Kenyan Chickpeas and Potatoes in Coconut Broth)

Love Sanjana

Chilli, Lime and Garlic Mogo

My favourite Sunday afternoon snacks consist of anything that goes with with a cup of masala chai. Whether it’s something deep fried and delicious like samosa or kachori, or a pile of fluffy steamed dhokra, I’m a sucker for savoury snacks.

These East African-style Mogo Chips are a childhood favourite. It’s the kind of food we’d prepare if we have guests coming over because it’s so simple to throw together. I’ve also never met anyone who doesn’t love fluffy mogo.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Mogo (a.k.a Cassava) is a staple carb in Africa, in many parts of South America where it is known as Yucca and of course, in my house. Countless Indian restaurants all over the UK serve it up in all kinds of ways, popular choices being Tandoori and Indo-Chinese style (with soy sauce). Personally, I think the simpler it is, the better.

What I love about mogo is its earthy flavour, which truly comes to life when it’s gently steamed or boiled. It’s so distinct, you’d know within a split second that someone is making ‘bafelo mogo’ (steamed cassava). It reminds me both of the beautiful Mombasa sunshine and eating as a family.

I cook cassava in lots of different ways, all ones I was taught by my mum when I was a little girl. I hope one day I can proudly say I’ve shared them all with you. My favourite is a mogo and coconut stew recipe, which I’ll post up soon.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo 3

Aside from the fried or grilled with a sprinkling of salt kind of mogo, this is probably the simplest mogo recipe I make. It has very few ingredients but is loaded with flavour. Heaps of garlic, chilli and lime make it the perfect party recipe to share with friends and family – there’s hardly any prep involved and everyone can just tuck in from a large platter.

For the perfect Sunday afternoon snack, serve with a cup of hot masala chai. I’ll share my recipe for that in the next post.

This is going to be delicious.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Chilli, Lime and Garlic Mogo
Serves 6


1kg fresh or frozen mogo (also known as cassava or yucca) – peeled if fresh
70g salted butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
6 large cloves garlic, crushed
4-5 chillies (more or less according to taste)
½ tsp red chilli flakes
2 tbsp cumin seeds
Salt, to taste
Juice of 2 limes, zest of 1
Chopped coriander to garnish
Lime wedges, to garnish


1. Chop the mogo in to bite sized chips. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the mogo. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander and allow to cool and steam to evaporate for 15-20 minutes.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a large wok (the oil will stop the butter burning). Add the cumin seeds and garlic. Cook for 1 minute before adding the chillies, mogo and salt.

3. Allow to cook, tossing every 2 minutes until golden all over. Finish with the lime juice and zest.

4. Garnish with fresh coriander and lime wedges.

Chilli Lime and Garlic Mogo

Serve with masala chai and enjoy with friends.

Love Sanjana

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

During my lifetime, I’ve been lucky enough to be extremely close to so many wonderful food cultures. The Gujarati cuisine made by my mother’s hands was the stuff that put the skin on my bones, next were my dad’s favourite East African dishes inspired by his childhood in Mombasa.

Later came various recipes from other parts of India I couldn’t help but experiment with once I got a taste for cooking. Running through it all the while is the amazing food culture of Britain – a diverse mix of true classics like Cornish pasties and Yorkshire puddings, to dishes from international cuisines we’ve somehow adopted. There’s nothing quite like eating Taiwanese Bao in Kings Cross or Vietnamese Summer Rolls in Shoreditch for lunch and going home to true Gujarati daal-bhaat, shaak and rotli, followed by Mombasa-style mogo chips as a cheeky midnight snack.

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

See, I told you… totally spoilt.

These little packed potatoes are a take on the snacks loved by Asian people all over East Africa. Here, I’ve used British New Potatoes sandwiched together with a spicy chilli, coriander and lemon mixture. They’re deep fried, which is not something I always do but is absolutely necessary for this recipe (please don’t try to bake them in the oven as the batter will just fall off). Just do an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill tomorrow.

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

I’m serving them with my favourite chutney – a blend of coriander, coconut and heaps of lemon, sugar and salt. It will set your taste buds alight, not with heat but sheer joy. Purists, omit the coriander as they do in Kenya but it’s so easy to get hold of here and really takes the flavours to the next level. I really recommend it.

Serve in paper cones or on a sharing platter as I’ve done here. I love food you can put into the middle of the table for everyone to dig in. A cold beer is the perfect pairing but then again, when isn’t it?

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney
Makes 18-20


1.5kg baby new potatoes, skin on, boiled and cooled
Sunflower oil, to deep fry

For the filling:
150g of the boiled potatoes, roughly mashed
100g finely-chopped coriander
1 ½ tbsp red Kashmiri chilli powder
1 large clove garlic
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 tsp salt

For the batter:
100g plain flour
200g chickpea flour
1 tsp coarse semolina
Juice of one lemon
400ml cold sparkling water
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt

For the coconut and coriander chutney:
150g coriander
4 green chillies
100g unsweetened desiccated coconut
100g Greek yohgurt
Juice and zest for 2 lemons
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar


1. To make the filling, combine all of the ingredients to make a sticky paste. If it doesn’t combine to make a paste, give it a very short pulse in a food processor.

2. Halve each of the cooked and cooled baby new potatoes and sandwich the two pieces together with the paste. Repeat for all of them and place them in the fridge while you make the batter.

3. To make the batter, combine all the dry ingredients and give them a quick whisk to remove any big lumps. Add the sparkling water and whisk to make a smooth batter.

4. Heat the oil in a large, deep pan or wok until it reaches 180C or until a piece of bread turns brown in 60 seconds.

5. Take one of the potatoes, quickly dip it in the batter until it’s coated all over, then very gently place it in the oil. Repeat with a couple more, taking care not to overcrowd the pan as this will bring the temperature of the oil right down.

6. Allow to cook, turning in the oil until golden all over. Drain in a colander lined with paper towels. Repeat for all of the potatoes.

7. To make the chutney, combine the coriander, chillies, lemon juice and zest, salt, sugar and coconut in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the yoghurt and pulse quickly. Pour into a serving bowl.

8. Serve the packed potatoes alongside the coconut and coriander chutney, lemon wedges and cold beer. If you can get your hands on Tusker, go for that.

Love Sanjana

Ugandan Rolex: East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

I’ve always been slightly bitter that I could never appreciate the beauty of a breakfast burrito. Don’t worry, I most certainly haven’t fallen off the vegetarian bandwagon. For me, the idea of something so filling, flavoursome and not to mention, gigantic for breakfast makes me weak at the knees. I’m that person who gives breakfast burrito street stalls serious side eye as I pass by. Jealousy.

All of this was true up until the point of discovering the ‘Rolex’. Nope, we’re not chowing down on eye-wateringly expensive watches for breakfast; We’re eating spicy omelettes with onions, chillies, shredded cabbage and tomatoes, all wrapped in hot, flaky flatbread.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

Found on the bustling, buzzing streets of Kampala, Masaka and dozens more towns and cities in Uganda, Rolex is one of the most delicious and underrated street foods you’ll come across in East Africa. A beautiful combination of textures and flavours, in a portable roll for eating on the go. It’s so popular, there’s an entire festival dedicated to it. Any festival dedicated to something that resembles a burrito is my kind of festival.

One day we’ll all go there and stuff our faces. Deal?

Like many words in the Swahili language, this dish is named after the way it sounds. The term ‘Rolex’ comes from ‘rolled eggs’. If you say it as quickly as you would eat it, it all makes perfect sense. This is what I love about listening to people speak in Swahili.

Growing up, much of the Gujarati we spoke at home was influenced by the Swahili language. It was woven so deep into our vocabulary that if you asked me now what the Gujarati words for everyday things are, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. That’s because I’ve been replacing them with the Swahili words my whole life.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

How cute is this little giraffe I bagged during my last trip to Mombasa?

In our family, we mash up Gujarati and Swahili words left, right and centre, creating a sort of pidgin Gujarati peppered with the Swahili nuances and colloquialisms our parents and grandparents once embraced.

Here are some of my favourite Gujarati-Swahili words that have made it into our everyday conversations:

Sufariyu (Bowl)
Fhangusa (To mop the floor)
Sahani (plate)
Pasi (Iron)
Kata (to cut) – we use this to refer to thorns on plants. For example, Bharti ben ne kejje ke laal phool nahi adhe, boh kata che.”

It works the other way, too. Gujarati words have been adopted by the Swahili language. The word, ‘goti’ meaning ‘knee’ has been adapted to ‘gotli’ to refer to the stone inside a mango, because it literally resembles a small kneecap. Gujarati convention simply inserts an ‘L’ to indicate the diminutive. So to Gujaratis in East Africa, ‘Gotli’ = mango stone/little knee.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

You’ll notice that a tonne of these hybrid words relate to eating and sleeping; the favourite pastimes of every Gujarati.

Let’s get cracking with the omelettes, shall we? Sorry, but I love a pun. My omelettes have been veganized using super-healthy tofu, blended up with chickpea flour, spices and then laced with veggies. The result is soft and light with just the right kind of wobble and texture you’d expect from a traditional omelette. They also hold their shape like a dream. Each vegan omelette is then wrapped in a Kenyan-style Chipati (flaky flatbread) and rolled into a cigar. You could also use a tortilla wrap or paratha if you like. I stuffed them with a rainbow of shredded vegetables which isn’t entirely traditional but it’s good for you and tastes divine.

Kenya-style chipati is a version of Indian chapattis. They’re made with plain flour and rolled thinly for a slightly chewier texture in comparison to Indian chappatis. Make them first and the omelettes second before rolling up the Rolex. The Kenya-style chipati are delicious with dishes like Sukuma Wiki and are perfect for rolling up with these tofu omelettes inside. If you’re not up for making your own chipatis, you could also use the frozen chappatis or paratha you get in your local Indian supermarket. I’ve tried this recipe with this brand before and it works a treat.

And there you have it – a crazy-delicious breakfast or brunch treat to go along with masala chai. Serve them with chips for a tea-time treat you’ll crave at least once a week.

P.S. Breakfast burritos, I’m over you.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

Ugandan Rolex – East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside
Makes 6-8


For the vegan omelettes
500g medium firm tofu, pressed
80g chickpea flour
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black salt
2 green chillies, chopped finely
2 inch ginger, grated
Pinch of salt
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
1 tomato, chopped finely
100g cabbage, chopped finely and cooked
100ml aquafaba (water from a can of chickpeas)

To roll inside the rolex
½ small red cabbage, shredded
200g spinach leaves
3 carrots, grated
100g radishes, sliced finely


1. To make the omelettes: Blend the tofu until smooth.

2. Place the chickpea flour, cornflour, aquafaba, turmeric, black salt, green chillies, salt and ginger in a large bowl. Add the tofu and whisk until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes.

3. Grease a non-stick frying pan with oil and heat the pan over a medium/low flame.

4. Place a ladle full of vegan omelette batter in to the pan. Scatter with chopped onion, cabbage and tomatoes. Cook until the top of the vegan omelette sets lightly but still has a little bit of a wobble. The base should be golden.

5. Flip and cook the other side for 20-30 seconds.

6. Place a chipati directly on top of the cooked vegan omelette while it’s still in the pan. Remove the chipati and omelette stack and place on a board. Fill with shredded red cabbage, spinach, carrots and radishes. Roll tightly and wrap in foil. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. This ensures the wrap doesn’t fall apart.

7. Repeat for the rest of the rolex.

For the Kenya-style Chipati

250g plain flour, plus more for rolling
40ml sunflower oil
125ml boiling water, or enough to make a soft dough


1. Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the middle.

2. Pour the oil into the well and top up with the boiling water.

3. Use a spoon to mix the dough until it’s cool enough to handle. Use your hands to bring the dough together. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and soft.

4. Make small ping pong ball-sized pieces with the dough. Keep some flour on a plate for rolling.

5. Get another plate lined with kitchen paper and keep your butter handy.

6. Place the cast iron hot plate or a frying pan on a medium heat. Leave it for 5 minutes.

7. Get your rolling board and rolling pin ready. Keep a wet sponge under the board so it doesn’t move.

8. To start rolling, take a piece of dough and roll it between your palms, flattening it slightly. Dip each side in flour.

9. Roll it once up and down with the rolling pin and then take a pinch of flour. Place it in the middle of the dough and then use your index fingers and thumb to pinch it closed, starting from the outer edges. This step isn’t something everyone traditionally does but is what my mum taught me for soft chipati that rise.

10. Next, flatten the dough using your palm and again, dip each side in flour. Now, begin rolling the dough in a circular motion, teasing the dough to move around with your rolling. If you can’t do this, pick the chipati up with one hand and move it around yourself. The aim is to create a perfectly round, even surface and a flatbread that’s around 2mm in thickness and 6-7-inches in diameter.

11. Place the chipati on the cast iron hotplate and cook until little bubbles appear on the surface – around 10 seconds. Flip it.

12. Cook it on the second side until small, even brown spots appear all over the bottom of the chipati – around 30 seconds. Flip it.

13. Now, this is the rising side. Don’t worry if your chipati don’t rise the first few times you try it. It comes with practice. They’ll still taste delicious. Cook until darker, less evenly-spread patches appear on the bottom. Around 15-20 seconds. Flip it and place it this side up on your kitchen paper-lined plate.

14. Repeat this process for all of your chipati until you have a stack.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

Love Sanjana







Kenyan Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and My Pa’s Masala Chips

I’m a veggie burger snob. There, I said it.

Nothing compares to a veggie burger packed with a delicious combo of spices, herbs and quality extras.

I have a few dozen personal burger laws. For me, there must be pickles, if not, the burger is incomplete. The sauce has to be relish, mustard or something else loaded with flavour. Salsa is fine. No mayo, although sour cream with chives is epic. Cheese is mandatory. Extra cheese is better. Lettuce or baby spinach offer a welcome crunch factor and thinly-sliced onions make the whole thing a dream come true.

Kenyan Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and Dad's Masala Chips

Another thing I’m absolutely nuts about is a crunchy crust on the outside of the burger patty. Breadcrumbs, crushed nachos, herby semolina, I’ll take anything. But I’ve got something better for you today, my loves; something so stupidly delicious you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.

Three words; cassava crisp crust. Did you just feel my heart skip a beat?

Kenyan Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and Dad's Masala Chips

Cassava crisps are a staple snack in our house and the fresh kind cannot be beaten. Paper-thin slices of cassava deep fried until crisp, doused with fresh lemon juice, salt and chilli powder transports me back to Mombasa where roadside hawkers sell them by the bag full. They stand over vats of hot oil lit over gas stoves all day, chipping the cassava directly into the oil from above. There’s something so beautiful about watching their skilled hands carry out their craft while the smell of butane, fried starch and sea water lingers in the air. For me, a road trip isn’t the same without a bag of crunchy cassava crisps and a frosty bottle of Stoney Tangawezi (ginger beer).

Rarely do we make fresh cassava crisps at home, they’re a once in a while treat. These days you can buy them from most big supermarkets. For this recipe, the shop-bought kind are an ideal time-saver.

Kenyan Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and Dad's Masala Chips

Mshenye is a very traditional side in East Africa. A carbohydrate, protein and starch-rich combination people rely on. It consists of mashed sweet potatoes, kidney beans and maize. Very few spices are added because it’s usually served with rich, flavoursome stews. I’ve taken the delightful combo of classic Mshenye ingredients and added fresh and flavoursome herbs and spices for a knockout take on the traditional dish. The Mshenye is shaped into burgers and coated in crushed chilli and lemon cassava crisps. They’re then baked in the oven until they’re golden on the outside and still soft on the inside. Pure veggie burger perfection.

Mombasa-Style Masala Chips

My Dad’s Masala Chips are famous in our family; Our midnight feast of choice. He throws them together at lightning speed, making it difficult to get a glimpse into what he actually puts in the sauce. When I first asked him for his recipe he sent me a list of about 10 different ingredients, all jumbled up with no measurements. This is what I like to call a ‘dad recipe’. It’s also probably why his masala chips are so goddamn delicious. Well, this is a monumental moment, guys. He made it while mum recorded the recipe – dream team!

We finally have a real recipe with his measurements so you can get your masala chips fix at home.
Enjoy them with these ultimate veggie burgers.

Kenyan Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and Dad's Masala Chips

Kenyan Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and My Pa’s Masala Chips
Makes 6 big burgers or 8 smaller ones and enough chips to feed 6


For the burger patties:

1kg whole sweet potatoes, skin on and baked until soft
250g kidney beans, cooked
250g sweetcorn
2 spring onions, chopped finely
2 chillies, chopped finely
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Juice ½ lemon
1 vegetable stock cube, crumbled
3 tsp salt
3 tbsp instant mashed potato powder
Chopped coriander
100g crushed cassava crisps or potato crisps

To assemble the burgers:

6 burger buns, sliced in half
Salad greens
Sliced pickles
Red onion, thinly sliced
Mozzarella or Cheddar cheese slices (or both)
Sour cream with chives
Sliced tomatoes

For my Dad’s Masala Chips:

1.2kg waxy potatoes, such as King Edward
2L sunflower oil, for deep frying
400g passata
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp asafoetida
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
Chopped coriander, to garnish


1. Slice the sweet potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh. Place all the ingredients for the burger patties (except the cassava crisps) in a large saucepan and use a potato masher to mash them together. Cook on a low heat, mixing often until it comes together and starts to hold its’ shape. Set aside to cool.

2. Cut the potatoes for the chips into fry-sized pieces. Place them into a pan of cold water and refrigerate.

3. To make the sauce for the masala chips, heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add the crushed garlic and asafoetida. Sauté for a moment and then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes until reduced by half. Set aside to cool.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

5. The burger patty mixture is cool enough to handle, divide it into six large burgers or 8 smaller ones. Use your hands to shape them into patties before rolling into the crushed cassava chips. Place the burgers on a flat baking tray. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, placing cheese slices over the top at the 25 minute mark, and returning to the oven to melt. You could also cook them on the barbecue.

6. In a deep pan, heat the sunflower oil to 180C. Deep fry the chips until golden all over. Drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Place the chips in a bowl and add the masala chip sauce. Toss gently, taking care not to break them. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped coriander.

7. Toast the burger buns on a griddle.

8. Load up the burgers with sour cream, the cheese-topped Kenyan-style burger patties, salad leaves, sliced onions, tomatoes, pickles and whatever else your heart desires. Serve with masala chips.

Kenyan Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and Dad's Masala Chips

Love Sanjana

An easy vegan recipe for the most delicious veggie burgers ever.

Click on the image above to Pin it for later!

Mombasa Kachri Bateta

Mombasa Kachri Bateta

I’ve always strived to be a great cook like my grandfathers. My parents tell me their Gujarati and East African classics like Mombasa-Style Daal Kachori, Jalebi Paratha, gathia were inspiring. Their tips and tricks are recalled in the conversations of our extended family with a joy that I cannot even describe. I wish they’d have been here long enough for me to watch them at work.

Someone who had the pleasure of spending many hours in the kitchen with my Bapuji (paternal grandfather) was my wonderful aunt in Mombasa, Kenya. She’s an incredibly-talented cook with an edible garden I could only dream of. Packed with mangoes, coconuts, bananas, tree tomatoes and herbs, she’s an expert at cooking everything from Gujarati classics, to East African staples. When I visited their family home last year, I was treated to it all and my word was it dreamy.

One of the dishes she cooked up was this Mombasa Kachri Bateta – a light potato stew with sour green mangoes, topped with coconut fresh from the garden and fried cassava crisps. The coconut is a kind of dry chutney rammed with flavour from grated green mango, chilli, turmeric, salt and sugar. That’s it. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – the simplicity with which East African food is cooked blows my mind and my taste buds. It’s unbelievable how a few simple ingredients put together in a clever way makes everything Taste. So. Damn. Good.

Grated raw green mango is EVERYTHING to this dish. It adds a gentle, fruity sourness lemons just can’t deliver. If you can’t get raw green mango, try adding lime but I seriously would encourage you to hunt the mangoes down. Ensure they’re super hard and very green and keep the skin on when you grate it, because life’s too short.

The toppers for Kachri Bateta are endless – from fried cassava or potato crisps, to thick gathia, jinni sev, fresh coriander, sliced chillies and of course, the dry mango chutney. Gathia and jinni sev are fried chickpea flour nibbles – think Bombay Mix but better. You can buy them in most big supermarkets.

This dish is so easy and a delicious taste of Mombasa. The only difficult part is waiting for the potatoes to cook in the sour, spicy mango and tomato broth.

Mombasa Kachri Bateta (2)

Mombasa Kachri Bateta
Serves 4


For the potato stew:
750g potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp crushed garlic
75g raw mango, grated
2 tbsp oil
3 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
2 tsp salt
½ tsp red chilli powder
1.5L water

For the coconut chutney:
100g fresh coconut, grated
100g raw green mango, grated
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp turmeric
1 small chilli, chopped

To serve:
Cassava crisps or potato crisps
Gathia or jinni sev
Chopped coriander
Sliced chillies


1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for a minute or two, stirring all the time.

2. Next, add the mango, potatoes, salt, chilli powder and water. Allow to cook on a medium heat for around 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and the water has reduced by half. The starch in the potatoes will thicken it perfectly.

3. To make the chutney, mix all the ingredients together. Cover and keep in the fridge. This is best served cold on top of the stew.

4. Serve the stew in bowls, topped with the coconut chutney, crisps, gathia, sev, coriander and chillies.

Love Sanjana

Bullet Banana Daal Vada

Daal Vada

Happy 2014! It’s a new year and time to start getting excited about the adventures ahead. This year I get to marry my best friend and biggest supporter in all my work and passions. I have never felt so excited and nervous in my whole life.

I thought it would only be right to begin the year with a recipe that’s close to my heart; one which combines my love for Gujarati and East-African food in a beautiful way. Traditional Gujarati Daal Vada are crunchy, spicy and perfect for dipping into yoghurt. My East-African version incorporates bananas to add a hint of sweetness against the intense chilli and lemon heat. The magical thing about adding ripe banana to the batter is that it reacts with the lemon and baking powder, creating a puffy, fluffy-in-the-middle fritters that still have an incredible golden crunch on the outside because of the ground mung daal, urad daal and rice.

For me, rice is an important addition to any Daal Vada recipe because it ensures the fritters are crispy on the outside – essential when you’re craving a crunchy deep-fried starter to begin an Indian meal. But my favourite way to enjoy crispy Daal Vada is with hot, sweet masala chai and great company.

Daal Vada

Remember to wash your daal and rice thoroughly and soak overnight for easy grinding and beautifully-textured vada. The frying process is a little tricky – and utterly frightening for the first few vada, but go carefully and you’ll get the hang of it in no time (I say as my finger throbs with pain from the oil splash I got from frying these vada an hour ago). Totally worth it though.

Think crunchy, fluffy, deep-fried pancake bites with a touch of sweet banana, a zip of fresh lemon and a punch of chilli heat (hence the ‘Bullet’). Serve immediately after frying with lemon wedges and fresh coriander and yoghurt chutney.

Coriander and yoghurt chutney is my go-to dip for any Indian starter because of it’s amazing power to perk up any dish from samosas to tikkis and of course, these Daal Vada. All you need to do is open your blender, throw in a washed bunch of coriander, a few dollops of yoghurt, a peeled clove of garlic, green chilli and lots of lemon juice, salt and sugar. Blend until smooth for the ultimate dipping, dunking or drizzling experience.

Daal Vada

Bullet Banana Daal Vada
(Serves 8)


75g mung daal
55g urad daal
35g basmati rice
1 ripe banana, peeled and broken into large pieces
2 hot green chillies, stems removed
2 hot red chillies, stems removed
3-inch piece ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
250ml warm water
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
140g gram flour (chickpea flour)

2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
Pinch turmeric
½ tsp asafoetida
2 tsp baking powder
Juice and zest 2 lemons
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Oil for deep frying


1. Pick through your mung and urad daal to ensure there are no stones or other foreign objects. Place the daals and rice in a sieve and wash them until the water almost runs clear. Soak them in cold water overnight.

2. Once soaked, drain the daals and rice and wash again until the water runs almost clear. Place in a blender or food processor and grind with 250ml warm water until you get a smooth paste. Place the paste in a large bowl and rinse the blender as you’ll need it again.

3. In your blender or food processor, add the chillies, ginger, banana, salt, sugar, ground coriander seeds, ground cumin seeds, ground fennel seeds, turmeric, asafoetida, lemon zest, lemon juice and fresh coriander. Blend until you get a smooth, but not entirely uniform paste. Add this to the daal and rice paste.

4. Next, whisk in the gram flour and 1 tbsp oil, ensuring there are no lumps.

5. Heat the oil in a deep, non-stick pan or wok. You’ll know the oil is ready when a cube of bread browns all over in 50 seconds.

6. Quickly whisk the baking powder into the vada batter, ensuring it is mixed in thoroughly. It should resemble pancake batter.

7. To fry the vada, dip your fingers into a little water and shake off any excess. Now, make a ‘cup’ with the four fingers on your dominant hand and scoop enough batter into your fingers to come up to the first line on your middle finger, using your thumb as a stopper. Gently drop the batter into the oil, ensuring your hand is close to the surface of the oil but not touching it on so close, the batter splashes back when you drop it. Use your thumb to push the batter down into the oil. You will almost certainly get smaller blobs of batter in your oil but don’t worry about this – you can scoop them out and scoff them later. Do about 8 vadas at a time and don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry until puffed up and crispy all over. Remove the vada and drain in a colander lined with kitchen paper. Repeat the process until you run out of batter.

Serve hot with lemon wedges, cooling coriander and yoghurt chutney and a cold beer.

Here’s to a spicy, sweet and utterly heavenly New Year. 

Love Sanjana

Swahili Breakfast: Mandazi and Mbaazi

Mandazi and Barazi

I spent some time in Mombasa almost five months ago. It’s safe to say I’ve missed sipping on fresh madaf (coconut water) on Bamburi beach, eating fried cassava crisps doused in lemon juice and chilli on the side of the road, and feasting in mind-blowing authentic Swahili restaurants by moonlight. I ate a lot that week.

For me, the most incredible thing about East African food is the simplicity of ingredients that go into a dish and the unbelievable flavours that are produced. Basic seasonings like salt, sugar, lemon and chilli are paramount to everyday cooking. Spices like cardamom and turmeric are also popular, although they are used sparingly.

Whilst cassava, beans and ground rice make up the majority of the diet, fruit and veg are showcased in such a simple, yet delicious way that vegetarian food is an absolute pleasure to eat.

Mandazi Barazi

My wonderful aunt and uncle in Mombasa are blessed to have a garden full of palm trees, banana trees and fresh herbs, which allow them to indulge on the freshest exotic ingredients I’ve ever got my paws on. Juicy coconuts and green mangoes, fetched from the trees can be grated on top of my aunt’s mouth-watering hot and sour potato stew in just minutes. It was a privilege to sit at their dinner table.

As my cousin knew I was on a mission to sample as many Swahili specialities Mombasa has to offer, one morning she laid on one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever eaten in my life. Mandazi (or Mahamri) and Barazi is a wholesome combo of slightly-sweet cardamom doughnuts and gunga peas simmered in coconut milk until thick and creamy. Trust me when I say that you would 100% NEVER be able to guess that just five ingredients go into the Barazi. But then again, that’s the beauty of the cuisine.

Mandazi and Masala Chai

With my recipe you will certainly have extra Mandazi (doughnuts) – this is intentional. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy them with Masala Chai. No need to thank me.

Mandazi and Barazi

Ingredients for the Mandazi:

350g self-raising flour
7g fast-action dried yeast
1 ½ tsp cardamom seeds, ground
100g sugar
75g melted butter or sunflower oil
Approx 150ml warm water, to bind
Icing sugar to dust, optional

Ingredients for the Barazi:

240g tinned gunga peas, drained and rinsed
2 x 240ml tins coconut milk
1 tsp salt
Very small pinch of turmeric
Chopped chillies, to taste


1. In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre and add the butter and slowly incorporate enough water to make a dough. It will be sticky at this point but knead for at least 10 minutes to work the gluten in the flour.

2. Oil the bowl and leave the dough to rise in a warm place, covered with a damp towel for 90 minutes. It should double in size.

3. In the meantime, make the Barazi. In a large, non-stick pan combine the gunga peas, coconut milk and a very small pinch of turmeric. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer uncovered for around 40 minutes, or until thick and creamy. Don’t worry that the peas are already cooked – they’re tough-skinned and won’t disintegrate. Remember that the thicker the coconut milk gets, the more chance there is of the stew catching at the bottom of the pan, so stir often. Finally, add the salt and chopped chillies. When serving, garnish with a deep fried chilli if you want to be a fancy pants. If you do, please, please, please remember to make a hole or two in the chilli with a knife or it will explode. And exploding hot oil is never a good idea.

4. To shape the Mandazi, knock the air out of the risen dough and knead for a few minutes. Next, divide the dough into 5 150g balls. Take the first dough ball and roll on a lightly-floured surface to 5-inch circles and between -2cm in thickness. Take a pizza cutter and cut the circle into 4 triangle. Place the triangles on an oiled tray and repeat for the remaining 4 dough balls.

5. Cover the triangles with a piece of cling film and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

6. To fry the Mandazi, heat the oil in a large, deep pan (I used a wok) to 180C. Fry 3-4 Mandazi at a time until dark brown on both sides. Drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. Serve hot with Barazi and/or Masala Chai.

Mombasa-style Daal Kachori

Mombasa-style Kachori

Spiced Daal and Green Mango in Flaky Pastry

Deep fried starters; once you eat one, you’ll always go back for a second. Fact.

Kachori are like the forgotten little sister of samosa – the underdog starter that accidently slipped through the fingers of Western restaurateurs.

I cannot emphasise enough how good lentils are with sweet, hot and sour flavours. The addition of sour green mango cuts through the richness of the daal and spices and balances the deep heat of the chillies, ginger and cinnamon perfectly.

Mombasa-style Kachori (3)

These kachori are inspired by those sold at the famous Bhagwanjis sweet mart in Mombasa, Kenya. My entire family raves about Kenya-style kachori and these, along with Bateta Vada, are guaranteed to put a smile on my dad’s face. And I can vouch that he has great taste.

Kachori come in all flavours, shapes and sizes. You can stuff the classic flaky pastry with crushed green peas, urad daal or even potatoes. They can be made into UFO-like patties and topped with yoghurt, chopped onions and tomatoes to make chaat, or formed into rounds and served with chutney.

Mombasa-style Kachori (4)

Popular at weddings and parties, the dough and filling for these kachori can be made a day or two in advance, wrapped in cling film and kept in the fridge. Ensure they come to room temperature before forming them and chill again before frying. This will ensure they’re gorgeously crisp once fried.

I toast 1/3 of the mixed flour before adding it to the rest of the flour to make the dough. This will give the pastry added depth of flavour.

The trick to perfect kachori is to ensure the pastry is short, yet pliable enough to wrap thinly enough around the filling without creating holes which may break them whilst frying. Make sure your kachori are perfectly fried by tapping the pastry once they’ve had a chance to cool – they should sound hollow.

Mombasa-style Kachori (2)

Mombasa-style Daal Kachori – Spiced Daal and Green Mango in Flaky Pastry
(Makes 25)

For the pastry:

155g plain flour
70g chapatti flour
40g coarse semolina
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp ghee, softened (replace with oil for vegan kachori)
Around 115ml cold water

For the filling:

100g mung daal, soaked for 2-3 hours in cold water
1 green mango, grated
1 tbsp ginger, minced
4 green chillies, minced
1 tbsp oil
500ml hot water
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp asafoetida
60g crushed sev or gathia (available in most Indian supermarkets. If you can’t find them, use 60g ground peanuts instead)
1 tbsp fresh coriander, very finely chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt


1. First make the filling. Place the soaked and drained daal in a blender with 60ml water and grind to a very coarse paste.

2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, non-stick pan and add the daal, green mango, ginger, chillies, turmeric, 500ml water, salt and sugar. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture doesn’t stick and burn. Once cooked, add the cinnamon, coriander and crushed gathia/sev or ground peanuts. The mixture should become like a paste. Allow to cool.

3. Next, make the dough. Mix together all the dry ingredients. Take 1/3 of the mixture and in a dry pan, toast until nutty and fragrant. Add back into the rest of the flour. Rub in the ghee and oil until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to form a soft dough. If it’s too hard, add more water. Knead for 8 minutes until soft, smooth and pliable. Think pizza dough softness. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour or so.

4. Roll the daal filling into 25 balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Remove the dough from the fridge and give it another knead. Divide into 25 pieces. Remove the daal filling from the fridge. Take the first dough ball and using a rolling pin and a flourless surface, roll into a circle until around 4-5 inches in diameter. Place a ball of the daal filling in the centre and pull the dough around it, pinching the dough closed and removing some excess using the length of your index finger and thumb. Roll the ball gently between your palms ensuring there are no creases or holes in the dough, especially where you sealed. If there are, the kachoris will burst whilst frying and the filling will become really greasy. Repeat for the rest.

6. Refrigerate for around 20 minutes.

7. Heat enough oil in a wok to deep fry the kachori. Make sure the flame is low because they need to be fried slowly. Remove the kachori from the fridge and gently slide them into the wok. Don’t overcrowd it. Each batch needs to be fried for around 20 minutes until deep golden brown; move them around so they get even colouring. Remove from the wok and drain on a kitchen paper-lined colander. They should sound hollow to the tap.

8. Repeat the frying process for the remaining kachori.

Mombasa-style Kachori (5)

I like to serve these with fresh coriander chutney, tamarind and date chutney or fig chutney.



Crispy Potato Bhajia

Crispy Potato Bhajia (3)

Served in paper cones with fried green chillies for that ‘bhajia on the beach’ feel

I’ve always been a sucker for ordering too many starters in restaurants, especially when it involves Crispy Potato Bhajia (paper-thin potato slices coated in a bespoke spice blend), Hara Bara Kebabs (pea and cauliflower cakes) and Daal Kachori (spiced daal in semolina pastry). I’m told my eyes are bigger than my belly and I’ve never been one to argue with legitimate allegations.

Although I love eating out as much as I love home cooking, there’s always one question lingering on my lips as I attempt to make a choice of which restaurant to spend my Friday evening in  do they serve decent starters?

In all honesty, I think I can judge an Indian restaurant menu by the starters they have to offer. If the vegetarian appetisers are limited to samosas and onion bhajis (to this day, I still don’t understand onion bhajis – what are they and where did they come from?) I know I’m not going to be dazzled by their selection of mains. This is something I’ve learnt from eating out far more than I can afford to.

With other cuisines, I’m rubbish at menu guessing but I’m often just delighted if the vegetarian options stray from tired goat’s cheese salads or baked aubergine mush. In any case, I’m often at my happiest when there are three gorgeous starters I can get stuck into whilst everyone else enjoys their mains.

Crispy Potato Bhajia

An Ode to Bhajia

One of my favourite restaurants to do this at is the revered Maru’s Bhajia House in Wembley, London. With its humble green sign and modest dining area, the café is nothing elaborate but with a shining reputation going back decades, I guarantee you’ll never get a better bhajiyu (vegetables, often potatoes, deep fried in a spicy batter). Their signature bhajia have a closely-guarded recipe, brought to the UK from Nairobi by a family who must have loved seeing people’s smiling faces when they dug into a plate of these beauties. For East African Indians, Crispy Bhajia were the cupcake of their time. To some extent, they probably still are.

Many have tried to create the original version in their own homes – whether they were successful or not is probably kept as much a secret as the Maru’s Bhajia House recipe itself.

Here’s my version of the classic. Share this dish with family and friends; I’ve known many a chap risk stinking out entire London buses to get home and share Crispy Potato Bhajiya with their loved ones. Now that’s what I call dedication.

Crispy Potato Bhajia with Hot and Sour Cucumber Chutney

For the bhajia:

400g unpeeled potatoes, sliced thinly (I used a mandolin)
150g chickpea flour
60g rice flour
1/2 tsp cornflour
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
6-8 green chillies (or to taste), pounded into a paste
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
6 heaped tbsp fresh coriander, chopped very finely
½ tsp carom seeds
2 ½ tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp sugar

Oil to deep fry

For the cucumber chutney:

200g cucumber
200g fresh tomatoes
140g carrot
1 clove garlic
8-10 tbsp fresh coriander
6 green chillies (or to taste)
Juice of two lemons
200ml water
1 ½ tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt


1. Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl of iced water.

2. Mix all of the other ingredients for the bhajia. A blend of different flours will give the bhajia a beautifully crisp finish.

3. Drain the potatoes but do not dry them. Immediately toss the potatoes in the flour mixture. The mixture should stick to the potatoes. If it seems dry, add just enough cold water to make the flour coat the potato slices. Allow to stand whilst you make the chutney.

4. Blend together all of the ingredients for the chutney until coarsely puréed. Place into serving bowls.

5. In a large wok, heat the oil to around 190°C and slowly place 1/3 of the potato slices into the pan. Allow to become golden all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Serve alongside the chutney immediately for optimal crunch. I like to serve my bhajia in paper cones for that ‘bhajia on the beach’ feel but maybe I’m just being finicky. Sprinkle with rock salt and chilli flakes if your guests are that way inclined.  

Crispy Potato Bhajia (2)Love Sanjana