Vibibi – Swahili Pancakes

August 2, 2013mayurisjikoni
Blog post



What are Vibibi?

In general, Vibibi is a gluten free rice and coconut pancake. A typical East Africa Coastal or Swahili dish. Moreover, these small coconut flavored pancakes are served piping hot on the streets for breakfast. A small cup of kahwa, the Swahili black coffee flavored with ginger and vibibi… that’s truly a breakfast to die for. Unfortunately, these days I see less and less women selling vibibi as street food. However, that does not stop me from making some at home especially for Sunday Brunch. In fact, one pancake is called Kibibi and several are Vibibi.

Guest Post

Huma who blogs at Gheza -E -Shiriin requested that I share a Ramadan recipe as she is hosting RAMADAN – AN EVENT TO SHARE. Her blog name Gheza -e-Shiriin is so unique. Interestingly, it means Sweet Food. In regards to her blog, Huma has recipes influenced by many places…. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Dubai. Certainly, would love to try out her Aish Al Saraya a Lebnani Bread Pudding. And her photography is simply amazing. Do check out her space.

What I planned to make

When she sent me the invitation, I knew I had to feature Mombasa and a recipe from this coastal town. Besides the criteria of a traditional recipe, it had to be new on my blog. Hence, the famous Mahamri and Kaimati were out as I’ve already got those on the blog. And that’s when Vibibi came to my mind. Therefore, got down to hunting for the recipe. A few phone calls to my hubby’s friends mothers and got a perfect recipe which works very well.

A bit about the Swahili Food

Since Mombasa is predominantly a Muslim town, it certainly has a lot to offer in the way of cuisine. In fact, Mombasa is a port town with a natural harbour. Therefore, this made it easy for it to get occupied over the centuries by the Portuguese, Arabs and British. The British brought Indians from India to work on the railway, in the government offices, etc. This opened the doors for traders too. During the Arab era, traders came from Middle East in dhows.

Thus, it is not really surprising that the whole coastline of East Africa has a strong Arabic, Indian and British influence. The coastal cuisine is spiced up with spices brought from India and Middle East. In fact many of the dishes are quite similar to the Indian or Middle Eastern ones. Eventually, the locals started adding coconut to these dishes, which sets it apart from the recipes from the original places.

Mombasa Style Ramadan Food

During the Holy month of Ramadan, streets become alive with a variety of food that is prepared to break fasts. From coconut water, dates to cooked food. In the evening the streets are full of aroma from mahamri, kaimati, kebabs, chicken tikka, naan, mishkaki, keema and egg chapatis, samosa. Many buy mahamris and vibibi to enjoy during Suhur (pre-dawn meal). Shops are open till late, fairy lights are strung everywhere. Non Muslims too look forward to this holy month as it allows us to enjoy the festive feel too.

More About Vibibi – Swahili Pancakes

Traditionally, the recipe is made with soaked rice. Rice is soaked overnight in enough water. Next day, it is blended into a smooth paste using coconut milk. Unlike nowadays, previously it was a common practice to make the coconut milk at home. However, I’ve used canned coconut milk. Sugar, yeast and fresh grated coconut along with cardamom is added. Thereafter, the batter is allowed to ferment. Then, pancakes are made using the batter. The size of pancakes entirely is your choice. I prefer to make small ones. Traditionally, Vibibi is served on its own with kahwa.

How to Serve Vibibi – Swahili Pancakes:

  • I prefer to serve Vibibi with fresh fruits and honey. Therefore, I don’t add too much sugar in the batter.
  • Serve it with chopped nuts and grated coconut. Tastes amazing.
  • Have you tried Vibibi with Mbaazi? Its different and filling too.
  • A dollop of ice cream and some fruit piled on a kibibi makes an excellent dessert. Yes you read right, dessert.
  • Add vanilla extract for a different flavour.


Can you use Rice Flour to make Vibibi?

Certainly yes, if I forget to soak the rice the previous day, I use rice flour.

Recipe with Rice Flour:

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 200 -250 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp instant active dry yeast
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup grated fresh coconut
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder

Because I use instant active dry yeast, there is no need to pre ferment it. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Allow the batter to ferment for at least 1-2 hours before making vibibi or pancakes.

Some more Pancake Recipes you may want to check out


Ingredients Required for Vibibi – Swahili Pancakes

I want to show how Vibibi is traditionally made using soaked rice.

Rice – any type of white rice. I’ve used thick rice that we get in the market.

Coconut Milk – I have used canned coconut milk

Fresh Coconut, grated – best to use fresh coconut as desiccated does not give the same taste.

Cardamom Powder – elachi,kadiamu

Sugar – I have used normal refined sugar

Yeast – I have used instant active dry yeast which I add directly to the batter. However, if you’re using active dry yeast which is not instant, you will need to ferment it first. Take ¼ cup warm water, add 1 tsp sugar and yeast. Mix and allow the mixture to ferment for 10 minutes or until it becomes bubbly.

Oil/ Butter – for vegan pancakes use oil of your choice. Tastes really good with coconut oil too.

Dietary Tips:

  • Gluten Free
  • Vegan

pin for later:




Vibibi are gluten free rice pancakes with coconut flavour from the Swahili Cuisine. Enjoy it for breakfast with the traditional kahwa.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 hours 20 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine East Africa Coastal, Kiswahili
Servings 12


  • cups rice white
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar
  • cup thick coconut milk
  • ¼ cup fresh coconut grated
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder elachi
  • 1 tsp instant dry active yeast
  • oil/ butter for cooking the pancakes



  • Soak the rice overnight or for at least 6 hours in lukewarm water.
  • Put the rice in a sieve or strainer to drain out the water. Wash the rice under running water and let the water drain out completely.
  • Put the rice and coconut milk in the blender jug and process it to a smooth batter.
  • Pour the batter into a big bowl.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except the oil and mix it well.
  • Cover the bowl and allow the batter to ferment for 1-2 hours.
  • The batter should appear frothy.


  • Heat a frying pan with a tsp of oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, drop a ladleful (about ¼ cup) of the batter into the pan.
  • As it cooks tiny holes will appear on top. When the edges are light brown, flip the pancake over.
  • Add a little oil around it and cook till it is golden brown.
  • After each pancake is cooked, let the oil get a bit hot before adding the batter.
  • Repeat with the remaining batter.
  • Serve hot Vibibi on its own or with chopped fresh fruit and honey.½


  • Traditionally, water is added to the grated coconut and squeezed using a strainer or a strong cloth to get the thick milk. I used ready made canned coconut milk, as it gives a much better coconut taste.
  • If you’re in a cold place, place the bowl with batter in hot water. This will help the batter to ferment faster.
  • Adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste. Traditionally, about ½ cup is added to the batter. 
  • If you're not following a vegan diet, you can add an egg to the batter. If using an egg then add less coconut milk.
Keyword Rice and Coconut Pancake, Vibibi Recipe

Pin for Later




A little request:

If you do try this recipe then please either

  • add a comment below,
  • send a picture to my email
  •  tag me as #mayuri_jikoni on Instagram
  • or tag me on Twitter as #Mayuri1962





  • Gheza e shiriin

    August 3, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Thanks Mayuri Aunty ,for being a part of this celebration & sharing with us about mombassa culture. Loved having you. And received a very positive feedback from people regarding your post.

  • Mayuri's jikoni

    August 3, 2013 at 8:15 am

    You are welcome and I did read the lovely comments. Hope you keep in touch.

  • Jagruti Dhanecha

    November 8, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    First time I've seen this recipe, sounds delicious as I love coconut in my cooking.

  • Mayuri Patel

    November 9, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Jagruti, please try them, they are delicious. My old photo doesn't do much justice to the pancakes.

  • Mireille E Roc

    February 14, 2021 at 2:58 am

    5 stars
    I loved your descriptions – I felt like I was right there walking the streets of Mombasa with you during Ramadan and I have always loved the texture from yeast raised pancakes. I have tried 2 before – these Vibibi is definitely one I’m going to try soon – I can’t wait!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 14, 2021 at 6:53 pm

      Thank you so much Mireille, am so glad I was able to take you on a virtual trip. Please try out these gluten free pancakes.

  • Shobha Keshwani

    February 14, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    5 stars
    These look lovely .The fluffinness and porous texture makes them look like mini dosas. Interesting to know about different cuisines in the world. You have quite a few of them in your website.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 14, 2021 at 6:50 pm

      Thank you so much Shobha.

  • Archana

    February 14, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    5 stars
    Wow! I am amazed at the variety of Ramadan foods you have mentioned each sounds so delicious! Vibibi sounds delicious and is totally new to me. Rice and coconut milk sounds like one yum combo that we will enjoy. Definitely a weekend menu for us!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 14, 2021 at 6:50 pm

      Thank you so much Archana, actually when I made Koiloreo, the Goan Pancakes, found the recipe pretty similar.

  • Priya Srinivasan

    February 17, 2021 at 5:59 pm

    5 stars
    Wow, vibibi sounds totally delish mayuri ji ! Batter made of coconut milk must be so aromatic, can imagine the aroma when it cooks!!! The way you have served them makes vibibi more inviting!!! I m definitely trying this!!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 17, 2021 at 8:32 pm

      Thank you so much Priya, I’m a huge fan of anything with coconut so I really love these pancakes. Loaded with fresh fruits it is a filling meal. Please do try out the pancakes.

  • Hem lata srivastava

    February 23, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    5 stars
    New for me Combination of rice and coconut always works amazingly. I think Soaking rice gives it lovely fermentation. Looks amazing, fluffy and refreshing.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 23, 2021 at 5:51 pm

      Thanks Hem Lata, soaking the rice and then grinding it definitely makes them much softer than using rice flour.

  • Jayashree T.Rao

    February 23, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    5 stars
    Vibibi looks soft and delicious. Addition of coconut milk makes it flavoursome, loved it.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 23, 2021 at 5:50 pm

      Thank you Jayashree.

  • kalyani

    February 24, 2021 at 7:36 am

    5 stars
    lovely to read the cuisine and the traditions.. as i read thru the vibibi recipe, reminded how simialr this is to Malabar Kerala cuisine with rice n coconut milk in a pancake. delicious !

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 24, 2021 at 2:49 pm

      Thanks Kalyani, in fact these pancakes are so similar to the Koilereo..Goan pancakes.

  • Preethicuisine

    February 24, 2021 at 7:39 am

    5 stars
    Vibibi – Swahili pancakes is absolutely new for me.So glad to know about Swahili cuisine. These pancakes sound so flavourful and Delish. Can’t wait to try them. Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 24, 2021 at 2:49 pm

      Thank you so much Preethi. Enjoy when you try out the recipe.

  • Jolly

    February 24, 2021 at 10:14 am

    5 stars
    This looks fantastic and so yummilicious. This is truly a great way to prepare homemade pancakes by using coconut… Thank you so much for sharing this innovative pancake recipe as so love coconut in my cooking.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 24, 2021 at 2:47 pm

      Thanks Jolly and please do try the pancakes out, as it tastes really good. Even tastes good with chocolate sauce drizzled over it.

  • Amrita

    February 25, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    5 stars
    When I read your post I get to know other part of the world and their culture. This looks like an easy pancake recipe. Thank you for sharing this

    1. mayurisjikoni

      February 26, 2021 at 4:10 pm

      Thank you so much Amrita. Making Vibibi is easy, though you need soaking and fermentation time. But its worth the effort.

    2. Poonam Bachhav

      February 27, 2021 at 11:01 am

      5 stars
      These rice and coconut pancakes sounds so healthy and flavorful ! The recipe looks simple too. Glad to know about the Swahili Cuisine.

      1. mayurisjikoni

        February 27, 2021 at 4:25 pm

        Thank you, these pancakes definitely are flavorful.

  • Kenya for Kids – Kids Food Atlas

    April 28, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    […] (fried dough), vibibi (coconut and rice pancakes), or boiled sweet potatoes are other common breakfast […]

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