Vibibi – Swahili Pancakes
GUEST POST FOR GHEZA- E – SHIRIIN
RECIPE: VIBIBI – SWAHILI PANCAKES
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.
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
- Kue Serabi – Indonesian Pancakes
- Ragi and Oats Pancakes (Wimbi and Oats Pancakes)
- Savory Oat Pancakes
- Oladushki – Russian Pancakes
- Baghrir – Moroccan Pancakes
- Apple Aebleskiver – Danish Pancakes
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.
- Gluten Free
pin for later:
VIBIBI - SWAHILI PANCAKES
- 1½ cups rice white
- 3-4 tbsp sugar
- 1½ 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
PREPARATION OF THE BATTER:
- 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.
PREPARATION OF VIBIBI:
- 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.
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