Swahili Rice Delicacies,,,

Below are a variety of rice cakes, some in square shapes, some in round donut shape and some flat pancakes, it all depends on the amount of liquid in the batter and yeast. These different versions make it so special although the taste is nearly the same. It can be eaten on it's own, with a nice pickle or with a nice coconut curry (Kuku wa kupaka or samaki wa kupaka)

Mkate Siniya/Mkate wa kumimina

2 cups rice (long grain rice not basmati) soak overnight in water

2 1/2 cups warm water
7 Tablespoons coconut milk powder  warm water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom powder

*1 teaspoon yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and 5 tablespoons warm water- mix all these to proof the yeast (activate the yeast)

Poppy seeds to sprinkle

Equipment needed-
Blender (a very good one)
10 inch round cake pan (I like to use an aluminium cake pan)


  1. Soak rice over night in water. 
  2. The next day prepare a 10 inch round cake pan by lightly oiling the base of the pan. 
  3. Drain the water completely from the rice and put it in a blender jug. 
  4. Activate the yeast with the ingredients listed along with it. Check *
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the rice in the blender jug. 
  6. Blend to a fine runny batter. 
  7. Pour the batter in a bowl, cover and let it sit for about 2 hours to let it rise.
  8. On a very low heat of the largest burner put the pan over it to warm it slightly (about a minute).
  9. Pour the rice batter in the prepared pan  with the help of a silicone spatula . 
  10. Cover and let it bake or cook till it firms up (I like to use a glass lid , it helps me to monitor the cake better). You have to baby sit it (it takes about 40 minutes to bake)
  11. Once firm you can remove the lid  and sprinkle some poppy seeds (at this point the top part of the rice cake is white).
  12. Carefully, using oven mitts lift the pan and put it under broil at 350 Fahrenheit to cook the top part of the cake to golden.
  13. Let it cool completely and cut into 11/2 inch squares. The perfect mkate siniya should have air pockets running lengthwise and should be soft. 

*the original rice cake is made with coconut milk(add 2 1/2 cups warm water to 1 coconut grated  and blend to get coconut milk, sieve it in a bowl and  creamy milk is ready to use 😋), if it's not available then substitute it for water and the coconut powder as mentioned above in the ingredients. You can use 1 1/2 cans of coconut milk  and water for the complete amount of liquid required.


Soft puffy rice donuts

Equipment needed
vitumbua pan also known as Aebleskiver Stuffed-Pancake Pan

1 1/2 cup long grain rice-soaked overnight at room temperature. Next day drain the water completely.

1 1/2 cups coconut milk or 1 1/2 cup warm water add to it 6 tablespoons coconut powder(maggie or Grace brand) you can use 1 can of coconut milk and water.
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/2 cup sugar

Put 1/2 teaspoon yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar, soaked in 5 tablespoon warm water to proof it.

  1. Proof the yeast till it fluffs up.
  2. In a blender, add the drained rice and rest of the ingredients and blend to a runny smooth dough ( you can test the mixture by feeling it in between the thumb and fore finger, it shouldn't feel grainy). You will have to do it in batches depending on the size of your blender and do it in intervals to check the smoothness of the batter.
  3. Pour in a large bowl,cover and let it stand in a warm place for an hour till the mixture is well risen and bubbly.
  4. Heat the vitumbua pan on low heat, grease lightly each cavity with oil using a pastry brush.
  5. Using a soup ladle fill each cavity half way through.
  6. Cover till it firms up and using a wooden skewer flip it from the side.
  7. Cook through and remove. It should be golden brown on both sides.
  8. Can be served warm or at room temperature.


These rice pancakes are very simple to make and very delicious as a breakfast meal with a nice lemon pickle-sweet and sour,nothing better!
 On my last visit as I was walking by on  Mombasa streets ,I couldn't resist and buy vibibi from a lady, the size was  6 inch round, perfectly sweet ,soft  and magic in my mouth.

Equipment needed-
6 inch frying pan or griddle

1 1/2 cup rice long grained, soaked overnight at room temperature

Next day drain the water from the rice completely and put it in a blender with the ingredients below and blend to a smooth batter, you will have to to do it in batches and at intervals.

1 cup coconut milk or 1 cup warm water and 5 tablespoons coconut powder (maggie or grace brand)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 tablespoon white flour
1 tablespoon grated coconut if available

Put 1/2 teaspoon yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar in 5 tablespoon warm water to proof the yeast.
  1. Pour the batter in a bowl, cover it well in a warm place for an hour. Using a soup ladle mix the batter well. 
  2. Heat a frying pan on medium heat, drop a teaspoon of clarified butter (ghee) or butter on the pan .
  3. Pour 1/2 to 3/4 soup ladle of the batter into the frying pan. 
  4. Cover with a lid, when the top side is firm and the under side is golden, using a spatula turn the pancake and cook till it's golden. 
  5. Remove and continue with the rest of the batter. It will make about 5-6 6 inch pancakes.


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