Author - Jammy

Vyazy vya Karai: The Mombasa Delicacy

One of the most common snack in Mombasa where you will find in every household at 4pm, or being sold on every Alley in Old Town is Vyazi vya Karai. The mouth watering deep fried potatoes is a coastal delicacy that is loved by children to adults.



I remember growing up as soon as I came back from school at 4pm, I would take 10shillings from my grandmother and head to the neighbour. We would line up and buy potatoes as neighbourhood friends and sit on the baraza and eat vyazi right out of the newspaper. For some reason it just tasted good maybe because eating and laughing with friends made it worth it. This memory always arises whenever I eat vyazi karai. For many other people vyazi vya karai is also associated with memories.


What fascinates me the most about vyazi vya karai sellers in old town is that those ladies become an icon of the area, everyone knows her. Everyone who passes by to buy gets to know her, the stranger that you know. Also, she becomes the to go to person for all information. A person who goes and buys from her will small talk and tell her information. She gains tidbits of information from all her neighbours.

Vyazi vya karai has become the iconic food delicacy that is associated with Mombasa. I have so many memories and stories revolving vyazi vya karai. It is close to my heart. I believe everyone has a story. Do you have a story that is associated with vyazi vya karai?

For those in need of the recipe:

Vyazi Vya Karai


Potatoes –

Chilli paste
Salt – a pinch depending on your taste buds
Chilli powder – 5 tablespoons
Lime – 2 tablespoons

Gram flour – 1 cup
salt – a pinch
Water – 2 cups

Oil for frying


Wash the potatoes and put all of them in a pot. Boil them until cooked. (you will know when you insert the skewer or knife easily). Make sure that they do not overcook. Drain and let them cool. Peel them and set them aside.


Now mix the salt, Chilli powder and lime, ensure the paste does not get too runny. Take a potato and cut it into half. Apply the Chilli paste using the back of the spoon and glue it back with the other half. Now cut it, into half. This way you get 2 halves glued together. Continue this process until all the potatoes are done and set them aside.


To make the batter, take a mixing dish and pour the Gram flour. Make a well in the centre. Sprinkle the salt. Add the water and mix, use a fork to get rid of the lumps or you can use a kitchen appliance to help you mix. You need the paste to not be, too runny nor lumpy. Set it aside.


Heat oil, be careful that it does not get too hot. Put your potatoes that are cut into quarters in the batter and coat evenly, then using a spoon, dip them in the heated oil. Do this for all the potatoes. Make sure you do not overcrowd the potatoes. Turn frequently, until golden, and take them out.



Serve with ukwaju or chutney.




Kaimati is one of my favorite coastal snack, that I enjoy devouring after a long day at work. Served with coffee, a tradition passed on by generations.  Every afternoon after 4pm, families gather with coffee,dates and Kaimati to spend time as a family. Which helps the family bond and get to know someone’s day.  Also, in Old Town will find men seated in “Baraza’s” sipping Kahawa chungu and devouring kaimatis enjoying their retirement. There are a few places selling kaimati’s at twenty shillings for three pieces, mostly around Old town.

There two types of Kaimati

The first is sugar glazed, where the cooked dumplings is glazed with sugar and the second the cooked dumpling placed in sugar syrup which absorbs the sugar inside as well.

Here is a sample recipe from Fauzias Kitchen Fun :
1 cup
all-purpose/plain flour
1/2 cup
yogurt plus a little water
1 tbsp.
ghee or butter
1 level tsp.
instant yeast
Ingredients for Sugar Syrup
1 cup
1/2 cup
1/2 tsp.
powdered cardamom
lemon rinds or saffron threads
(whichever flavour you prefer)
Boil syrup and cool completely

Mix the flour with all the above ingredients and beat thoroughly with your hand. It should be thick enough for you to be able to pick without it flowing down between your fingers, but not so thick that it’s a dough. Not runny and yet not too thick.

Cover and let it rise for about half an hour. Touch some oil with your fingertips and mix the mixture again.

Heat oil, then pick small portions and drop in the hot oil, then immediately lower the heat and fry on very low heat, stirring the Kaimatis continuously so that they color on all sides and get super crunchy.

From heat place directly into the cooled sugar syrup.

Serve with coffee.