Potato Bhajia are a favorite snack in Kenya. Thinly sliced potatoes dipped in a spicy gram flour batter then deep fried till a bit crispy and golden ; Total potato perfection!
If you’ve lived in Nairobi, visiting the food court at Diamond Plaza is a must to sample the world famous “Maru Bhajia” from the stall by the same name. That is the only place whose bhajia I have faith in.
I am sure many of us who love their bhajias have tried to replicate it at home but can never quite get the exact taste. 😂
Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try though right?
Let us get started.
Our ingredients are:-
1 kg white potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced.
Oil to deep fry them in.
1/4 tsp ground tumeric.
1 tsp roasted cumin powder.
1 tsp paprika.
Juice of 1 lemon.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1/2 cup of besan (chickpea aka gram or garam flour).
1 heaped tablespoon rice flour
1 bunch of finely chopped coriander.
A pinch of fenugreek leaves – optional.
small pinch of baking soda.
Peel, clean and slice your potatoes into thin rounds.
In a a large bowl, add the potato slices, all the ground spices and herbs except the baking soda.
Add the flours and mix well.
Let the mixture stand for about 15 minutes, please do not add any water.
Heat your oil.
Add the baking soda just before frying. I got this tip from Fauzia’s Kitchen Fun blog.
Deep fry the potato slices on medium heat until cooked through, and turn golden.
To avoid them clumping together, add the slices to the oil individually.
Once ready, drain on kitchen towel to remove extra grease then serve with ketchup, chutney or chilli sauce.
They are a great snack to make as well as a fun weekend dinner with some roasted chicken or grilled meat and salads on the side.
They are crispy but fluffy inside, well cooked, well seasoned, delicious and you cannot get enough of them!
The Entebbe Wildlife Sanctuary, popularly know as the Entebbe Zoo, is one of the places one must visit when in Entebbe or Kampala.
It is located in Entebbe, but not that far from Kampala; about a hour’s drive, which makes it an excellent family outing option.
We have been there several times already, but this time round was more special to us as we had yet to see the two Bengal Tigers the zoo acquired sometime last year.
There is a lot to see at the zoo. From chimpanzees, to beautiful lions, cheetahs, giraffes, elephant, snakes, otters and even the elusive Shoebill stork, usually found at Mabamba Bay. I have already written about our visit there here.
There were a few changes we noticed while there. Obviously, there are standard Covid 19 prevention protocols to be observed, the zoo is now charging parking fees, and there is a small vehicle to drive those who do to want or are unable to walk around, (at a fee of course).
There is a big playground filled with different activities for children, a restaurant (that serves some awesome fish) and an area one can picnic at on the shores of Lake Victoria.
This time round though, we just wanted to see the animals. We began at the tiger enclosure. Such majestic creatures.
The lions, cheetah and leopard were all asleep though, I guess it was big cats nap time.
They also have a caracal and a serval which I find so beautiful with its black spots, long neck and long legs which make it a great jumper.
The zoo has two rhinos too that are so good at minding their own business, just grazing peacefully.
The kids were fascinated by the tigers, the rhinos which we were lucky to get really close to, the chimpanzees as well as the otters.
It was also our first time to see the otters up close as most times they hide out in the water.
Other fascinating sections were the reptile section, with the snakes and crocodiles.
If you are an avid birdwatcher, you will be able to hear and spot a few birds in the trees as you walk around the zoo. We spotted other animals too that are not part of the captive ones such as vervet moneys frolicking in the trees and a monitor lizard.
There is a botanicals section too, that is very informative on indigenous plants and their healing properties. Sadly this time round the guide was not available and the garden looked a bit rundown but I was able to get a few photos and information. It is one of my favorite parts of the gardens as we get to learn how many plants and trees around us, including some we view as weeds, were actually used in olden times to heal and manage various diseases and disorders. Quite intriguing.
The zoo has many other animals, warthogs, giraffes, baboons, red tailed monkeys, crowned cranes, ostriches, buffalos, waterbucks, a zebra, elephant and many more.
PS: I know there are people who do not like going to zoos as they do not want to see the animals in captivity. Well, for me, I see it is a learning opportunity. We get to see many animals and learn about them without having to travel to do so. Travelling to see animals in the wild is not within reach for many. Some of the animals are also rescued from the wild as they are at risk of being poached or endangered, so it is part of animal conservation efforts undertaken by those entrusted to care for them.
Many of the trees around the zoo had signs indicating their names, both local and scientific and if they are indigenous to the region or not.
Some also have installations around them to promote conservation and how to reuse plastics that are a menace to the environment.
We all enjoyed ourselves despite being a hot day and the place being quite busy than all the other times we have been there.
When you decide to visit the zoo, wear comfortable shoes and clothing, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses will not hurt too as there is quite a bit of walking around to do to see the animals.
This one is for you. This recipe has a twist though, and will work well for those of you who want to enjoy delicious home made pancakes, without having to use wheat flour. I had some really ripe plantains too and couldn’t let them go to waste, resulting in some wickedly yummy pancakes.
Cassava flour works really well in this gluten free recipe with ripe plantains to make a great breakfast, brunch or snack that is tasty, filling, colourful and not hard on your gut.
Let’s get started.
For this recipe we will need:-
4 really ripe plantains. I had the small ones, for large you can use 2.
1 1/2 cups cassava flour.
1/2 cup besan / chickpea flour. Also packaged as gram flour (the one we use for bhajias).
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt.
1/3 cup dark brown sugar.
2 yellow yolk eggs.
2 cups natural yoghurt, or buttermilk, or maziwa mala.
1 tsp vanilla.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
1/3 cup coconut oil.
1 tbsp custard powder.
Note: This recipe makes 15 pancakes, (about 7 inches wide).
Mash you plantains or puree them, add the sugar, yoghurt, eggs and vanilla. Mix well.
Sift the dry ingredients (the flours, cinnamon, baking powder etc into the wet, add the oil and mix well.
Let rest for 20 minutes.
You will have a thickish batter that look, smells and tastes really good.
Another great thing about this pancakes is you do not have to add more oil, as we already did in the batter, just use a nice non-stick pan to make them and on medium heat.
Heat your non stick pan, and ladle your batter.
Your pancakes are now ready to serve as you wish. Stacked or rolled, with butter, syrup or fruit compote, it is up to you.
They are healthy, tasty, filling, colourful, use what you have on hand and easy to make which as you know are my checkmarks for an awesome home made meal.
These cocopine pancakes are insanely delicious, decadent and made with so much love, each bite is just heaven on your tongue. Don’t believe me? Try them and see.
There is something about coconut and pineapple that reminds one of slow lazy days, sunshine, clear skies and love. Make these for yourself or your loved ones and treat yourselves.
The basic pancake batter is an adaption for a fluffy pancake recipe shared by @nyaranyango on Instagram. I changed it up a bit and made the pancakes Kenyan style, more like thickish crepes than fluffy American style. Then filled them with a simple pineapple and coconut compote that is wickedly delicious.
2 1/2 cups self raising flour.
1 heaped tablespoon custard powder
1 cup thick coconut milk
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 tsp chia seeds
3 tbsp sugar
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
A pinch of cinnamon
1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice.
For the compote;
1/2 a medium sized ripe pineapple, diced. (Ugandan pineapples are the sweetest and go in so well in this recipe).
1 big lemon, juiced.
1 tablespoon butter
A small pinch of ground cloves and ground nutmeg.
2 tablespoons Ugandan honey
1 heaped tablespoon coconut flakes, dessicated coconut will work too.
A small splash of vanilla.
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water.
Begin with the pancake batter. In a large bowl, add the coconut milk and sugar and whisk together, then add the coconut oil.
Next all the rest of the wet ingredients, the yoghurt, vanilla, egg and whisk well.
Follow this with the custard powder and flour and mix to a smooth thickish batter. The juice and cinnamon go in last. Set aside for a while.
For the compote, aka the pineapple sauce. Keep the heat low as you make it, to avoid burning.
Heat your small sauce pan and add the coconut flakes. Toast them till they start browning a bit, remove and set aside.
In the same pan, add the butter and as it melts, add the honey, lemon juice, and mix well. When it starts simmering, add the diced pineapple and the ground spices, mix well and cover. Let it cook for 15 minutes on low. The pineapples will remove their juice, soften and absorb the spices and lemon and honey slowly.
Once 15 minutes are up, if the compote is too runny for your liking, add the cornstarch and mix well, finish off with the toasted flakes and vanilla and switch off heat.
Let us now get back to our pancakes. I use a non stick pan and do not add oil as I already added it in the batter.
Heat your pan on medium flame, wipe with a kitchen towel and ladle some batter, then swirl it round. When it gets bubbles on the surface, flip and let cook on the other side. I like mine this golden brown colour. Remove from heat with a spatula and keep on a plate lined with kitchen towel. Repeat the same process until all the batter is done.
Now assemble and serve. I usually put the compote in the middle and fold the pancakes into a triangle shape as seen below.
The pancakes are perfect with a cup of ginger tea. Yum!
If you love coconuts and pineapple, these cocopine pancakes are definitely worth a try.