539. Vitumbua (coconut rice pancake balls)

February 9, 2016mayurisjikoni
Blog post

Vitumbua #BreadBakers

From the East Coast of Africa

Vitumbua (singular kitumbua) pronounced as vee toom booa are the local answer to pancakes/ doughnuts in East Africa especially in Tanzania and the coastal part of Kenya.Instead of being deep fried, they are made in a special vitumbua griddle/pan. Its similar to the aebleskiver pan or appe pan or paniyaram pan. Vitumbua is a common Tanzanian street food and found during Ramadhan in Mombasa. Its usually served with hot tea as breakfast. Beneath the crust the interior is light and fluffy, melt in the mouth texture. Most of the East African Coast cuisine has been influenced by Indian, Yemeni and Omani culture so perhaps vitumbua too may have been brought here by one of the settlers. The Bread Bakers theme for February is Griddle Breads hosted by Ansh of Spiceroots. Thank you Ansh for such a wonderful theme. As soon as I read griddle bread, I knew I had to post the recipe of Vitumbua and share a bit of the East African cuisine with the fellow bakers.  I love to turn the humble breakfast pancake balls into a dessert. Served with melted chocolate, drizzled with honey/maple syrup or a fruity syrup, its simply delicious. I love the fact that it requires very little oil to prepare these soft pancake balls.









Makes about 18

For Vitumbua :
1 cup rice
½ tsp instant dry active yeast
½ cup coconut milk
3 tbsp grated coconut
¼ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp melted butter
2-3 tsp oil

For Chocolate sauce:
50 g chocolate
1-2 tbsp coconut milk

For the orange syrup :
½ cup sugar
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 tbsp orange zest

Preparation of Vitumbua :

  1. Soak rice in warm water overnight.
  2. Next day, drain out the water.
  3. Add rice, warm coconut milk and coconut into a blender jug.
  4. Process the rice to a smooth consistency. Pour the batter into a bowl.
  5. Add yeast, sugar, salt,butter and cardamom powder to the batter and mix well.
  6. Cover the bowl with a cling film and set it in a warm place for the batter to ferment.
  7. This will take about 1-1½ hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  8. The batter is ready to use when it nearly doubled in size and bubbles on top appear.
  9. Heat the pan (appe, paniyaram, vitumbua or aebleskiver pan) over low heat.
  10. Pour a drop of oil in each of the cavities.
  11. Fill the cavity with the batter, three quarter full.
  12. Cover the pan with a lid.
  13. Let the vitumbua cook till it turns light golden in colour.
  14. Flip it over carefully using a teaspoon or a prawn fork(my ideal tool).
  15. Let the other side cook till its golden in colour.
  16. Vitumbua are ready. You will not be able to resist trying out the hot pancake balls.
  17. Serve vitumbua as it is with hot tea, or with honey, maple syrup. You can dust the vitumbua with icing sugar or serve it with chocolate sauce and orange syrup.
Prepare the chocolate and sauce while the batter is fermenting.
Preparation of chocolate sauce :
  1. Melt chocolate in the microwave oven or over hot water (bain marie).
  2. Add coconut milk and mix well.
  3. Set it aside till required.
Preparation of orange syrup :
  1. Heat orange juice and sugar in a pan over low heat till the sugar melts and the syrup becomes slightly thick.
  2. Take it off the heat and add the orange zest. Mix well. Let the syrup cool.
  • Prepare a fruit syrup of your choice but orange and chocolate is a heavenly combination.
  • Make sure the batter is smooth. If it feels grainy, the vitumbua will not be soft.
  • Use frozen grated coconut if you don’t get fresh one.
  • Its important to cook the vitumbua or low heat because you don’t want the inside to remain raw.
You may want to check out the following :


Griddle Breads



#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.



  • Stacy Rushton

    February 9, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I have one of these pans that my sister brought me from the Netherlands but rarely use it. Can't wait to try your vitumbua, Mayuri! They look wonderfully light and fluffy inside.

  • Sharanya Palanisshami

    February 9, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    This recipe is similar to south Indian recipe Mayuri……. Use of coconut milk gives unique flavour and taste.

  • Ansh

    February 9, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    I was waiting with a baited breath to see your bread. So different and unique. Thank you for a lovely bread and for joining in.

  • Tara Noland

    February 9, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    I have had something like this before but they were Chinese, love the pan and would love to try these too!

  • Moumita Malla

    February 9, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    It looks like appe..will have to try this

  • Georgina K.

    February 9, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Love your Vimtumbua bread Mayuri…thanks for sharing – they sure look nice and fluffy.

  • Julie

    February 9, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    These pancake balls sound delicious! You did a great job explaining how to make them. I've never had anything like these.

  • Cindy Kerschner

    February 10, 2016 at 3:13 am

    Orange and chocolate do go well together so yummy with these pancake bread balls!

  • Karen Kerr

    February 10, 2016 at 5:28 am

    These look amazing! I want that pan! What a wonderful recipe and the story behind it was a wonderful read.

  • Wendy Klik

    February 10, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Oh my, these look so good it makes me want to run out and buy a pan just so I can make them.

  • Mayuri Patel

    February 10, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks Stacy,I use the pan for so many of the healthier fritter or bhaji recipes. Less frying that way. I am sure you will love vitumbua.

  • Mayuri Patel

    February 10, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Yes it is Sharanya. However, most of the East African coast has a strong Indian, Yemeni and Omani influence. The prominent taste is coconut.

  • Mayuri Patel

    February 10, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Thanks Ansh, Initially I was wondering if my paniyaram pan is a griddle.But was assured when I actually checked out the meaning of griddle. Vitumbua is unique and tasty and a bit healthy except for the sugar in it 🙂

  • Mayuri Patel

    February 10, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks Tara,my niece bought the pan online from amazon in Canada so am sure you will find one in US. Lovely dessert or breakfast idea. My kids use to have it with jam.

  • Mayuri Patel

    February 10, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Yes Moumita it is like appe…. do try out the recipe.

  • Mayuri Patel

    February 10, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks Georgina.

  • Mayuri Patel

    February 10, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks Julie, they are pretty easy to make. Try it out and am sure you can buy the pan from Amazon.

  • Mayuri Patel

    February 10, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Thank you Cindy, I nearly made it my meal. Love the orange and chocolate combination.

  • Mayuri Patel

    February 10, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Thanks Karen. I'm sure the pan is available online or any excuse to make a trip to India, that's where I got mine from;)

  • Mayuri Patel

    February 10, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    Thanks Wendy… your comment brought a wide smile on my face!

  • Shireen

    February 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Love love love this new 'appe' version Mayuri! Never thought that a place in Africa would have their own version. These Vitumbua are waiting to be tried in my house (seriously!) …I love the coconut milk in the batter ..this is so me…I love coconut! – thanks for sharing this recipe

  • Kalyani

    February 11, 2016 at 10:49 am

    looks like the appe / paniyarams of India…coconut milk version is very tempting, Mayuri 🙂

  • Wendy

    February 11, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Oh my goodness, those look wonderful! And the list of pans that I want for bread experiments is growing 🙂

  • Shobha

    February 12, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    Interesting recipe.. looks like Indian appe

  • Linsy Patel

    February 13, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    its like our sweet appe but little twist in it, love to try this

  • Pavani N

    February 13, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Those coconut rice pancakes look sooooooo fluffy and delicious. Thanks for sharing this lovely bread.

  • Rocío RG

    February 15, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Great idea !! Thanks for these recipe

  • Jenni

    February 15, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    With the coconut and cardamom I can imagine how delicious these are, Mayuri! Wonderful! And thanks for teaching me about yet another bread I've never heard of. Love how much I learn from all the Bread Bakers!

  • Hema

    February 16, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Very delicious dish, a little similar and a little different from the Indian paniyarams, going to make this soon..

  • Shreelekha Patel

    June 20, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Mayuri, Can I bake them in the oven in a muffin tray?
    I do not have a griddle pan.
    Would love to make them as I have not had them since I
    left my beloved Africa.

  • FoodTrails

    April 18, 2019 at 7:07 am

    These sound so much similar to appe..these yeasted pancakes looks so tempting, good option for kids lunch box
    .. I too want to know whether we can bale these in muffin pan??

    1. mayurisjikoni

      April 18, 2019 at 12:02 pm

      Thanks Swati, they are similar to the appe. Don’t know if you can bake them. I would have to try. Having said that we have a similar recipe called makate sinya which is baked. I’ve yet to put that on the blog.

  • Seema Sriram

    September 20, 2020 at 10:10 am

    This is a very exciting recipe. I love the way different cuisines form edible treats on similar lines. This Kenyan treat reminds me of sooji appam which amma makes.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      September 20, 2020 at 10:51 pm

      Thanks Seema, but it tastes very different.

  • Be My Guest – Ugadela Math/ Sprouted Math Stir Fry – The Big Sweet Tooth

    September 26, 2020 at 9:25 am

    […] I have some really ripe bananas. She also has a few Kenyan recipes on her blog, which I am eyeing these sweet balls that would be a hit with the kids. She has come with a recipe that is so true to her heritage and […]

  • john

    May 22, 2022 at 11:59 am

    left dar-es-salaam when i was 12yrs old. now am 66. fond memories and long to taste vitumbua again. here is my chance. mayuri….thank you so much!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      May 24, 2022 at 2:42 pm

      You are most welcome. The recipe is easy. Hope you have an aebleskiver pan.

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