Viazi Karai

December 16, 2018mayurisjikoni
Blog post


Whenever I’m approached to do a guest post, I get really excited as it gives me the opportunity to share a bit of me with the blogger and I get to know the blogger, different cuisine and different ideas too. So when Kalyani, asked if I would be a guest on her blog, I obliged willingly. 

Kalyani has a wide selection of Vegetarian recipes be it healthy, vegan, for toddlers or some treats too.Check out a healthy chaat using moong .I’m waiting to get some fresh crunchy purple cabbage to try out her Bolivian Purple Cabbage Salad. Do you want to try a healthy dessert? Then check out the Vegan Chilli Chocolate Mousse.Its quite easy to maneuver through her blog as under each title she has sub titles. 

I’ve been several times to Mumbai and have not had a chance to meet Kalyani. However, next trip definitely planning to meet her. From what little interaction I’ve had with her through the various groups, she is a very polite, helpful and courteous person.

Kalyani wanted me to share on her blog a traditional recipe. I already have quite a few traditional Gujarati recipes on my blog so asked her if I could share a bit of the Mombasa tradition with her and she immediately agreed.

Mombasa, the oldest city of Kenya, was inhabited but the families of the Twelve Nations (Thenashara Taifa),the keepers of the Swahili tradition.The first European to visit Mombasa was Vasco Da Gama. Mombasa being a coastal town with a natural harbour naturally attracted a many travelers and invaders too. It is believed that Mombasa was founded in 900 A.D. It was an important trading centre for spices, gold and ivory. Along with that it is believed that it also was a centre from where slaves were exported. Trade was carried out with countries like China, Indian Subcontinent, Persian Empire, the Arabian Peninsula. 2 years after Vasco Da Gama’s visit Mombasa was invaded by the Portuguese. They built the famous Fort Jesus which was captured by the Omani and came under the rule of the Imamate of Oman. It returned to the Portuguese rule for a brief period before it came under the British Protectorate. It became the main capital and sea terminal for the famous Uganda Railway. To build this railway beginning from Mombasa to Kisumu on the shore of Lake Victoria, many Indians were brought from British ruled India. 

After Independence in 1963, many Indians brought to East Africa by the British Empire, decided to remain in Africa and began life there, mostly as traders.  

Geographically, Mombasa is blessed with abundance of fresh fruits like mangoes, bananas, pineapples, passion fruits, water melons etc to name a few, sea food, cashew nuts, coconuts. 

All these factors have resulted in a special Swahili Cuisine that everyone who visits Mombasa wants to try it. Famous for Chicken Tikka, kebabs, Mahamari, Mbaazi, Kaimati, haluwa, Mkati Sinia, Kashata, Viazi Karanga (Viazi karai), Mabuyu (baobab seeds), Achari (mango dried and then sugar or salt is added and sometimes red colour is added). 

Many of the local cuisine has been influenced by the Arab, Indian, Portuguese and English culture. Mombasa will offer you street food to a typical English meal( in the old colonial Mombasa Sports Club). Whoever visits Mombasa, doesn’t leave the island without sampling at least a few traditional dishes. Achari and Mabuyu is what relatives abroad want us to take for them or its the famous cassava crisps (mogo crisps). 

My contribution for a traditional Mombasa dish for Kalyani’s blog is Viazi Karanga or known more famously as Viazi Karai. Karai here refers to a basin or huge bowl or wok. Viazi in Kiswahili means potato. This snack is so famous all over Mombasa. Its served as street food (where in the evenings in some old parts of Mombasa or the slum areas, women come out in the evening at their doorstep and prepare this snack for passersby). Its also served in the numerous fast food cafes that are found in every nook and corner of Mombasa. I remember gorging on this  delicious snack during my 10a.m. break at school when I was teaching. My kids have many a times bought them from their school canteen to snack on at break time. What’s so special about this potato snack? At first glance it looks like bateta vada but its different. Boiled potatoes are sandwiched with a red chili and lemon mixture, coated in a batter and fried. Its always served with a coconut chutney. 

I wanted to use baby potatoes for this recipe but I didn’t get any in the local greengrocer shop. Usually they are made using normal potatoes, which I used. I made a slight variation from the traditional recipe by adding garlic in the filling and not using orange food colour for the batter.


Serves 6-8 

8 medium potatoes, boiled and peeled

For the filling:

1 tbsp garlic paste

2 tbsp lemon juice

1-2 tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp salt

For the batter:

1¼ cup chana flour (besan, chickpea flour, unga ya ndengu)

¼ cup plain flour (all purpose flour)

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjano)

2 tbsp hot oil

¾ cup water

oil for deep frying

For the Chutney:

1 cup fresh grated coconut

¼ cup finely chopped raw mango (peeled)

2-3 green chillis

½ tsp salt

1 cup water

Preparation of the Chutney:

  1. Add the grated coconut, mango pieces, salt and chopped chilis into a blender jug. Add 1 cup water and blend.
  2. Remove the chutney into a serving bowl.


Preparation of the filling/ red chili chutney:

  1. Mix the garlic, red chili powder, salt and lemon juice together.


Preparation of the batter:


  1. Mix all the ingredients for the batter. Make sure its a thick and smooth batter.

Preparation of Viazi Karai or Viazi Karanga:

  1. Cut the potatoes into half or smaller pieces if they are too big.
  2. Make a slight slit in each piece.
  3. Using a butter knife fill the slit with the filling (red chili chutney). 
  4. Fill all the potato pieces.
  5. Heat oil for deep frying in a karai, wok or kadai over medium heat.
  6. Drop a small drop of the batter in the oil. If it sizzles and comes up immediately then the oil is ready.
  7. Coat the potato piece with the batter. Gently drop it into the hot oil.
  8. Add 2-3 batter coated potatoes into the oil, depending on how big your kadai, karai is.
  9. Fry the viazi till it becomes golden brown.
  10. Repeat steps 7-9 with the remaining potato pieces.
  11. Serve hot viazi karai with the coconut chutney and the red chili chutney if you have any left.


  • Make extra red chili chutney to serve with the potatoes.
  • Use small potatoes if you wish.
  • Add coriander to the batter if you wish.
  • If you prefer more chilis, then add more to the chutney.

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


You may want to check out the following Mombasa Dishes:



Mamri and Mbaazi


Kachri Bateta




  • Lesli Schwartz

    December 17, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    This sounds so very interesting! I love all of those spices!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 18, 2018 at 5:50 pm

      Thanks Lesli and easy to make.

  • Beth Neels

    December 18, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    These look so delicious! What a great snack to send with the kids in their lunchbox! I can’t wait to give these a try!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 18, 2018 at 10:02 pm

      Thanks Beth.

  • Amanda

    December 18, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    LOVE Indian food but never came across these! I’ll have to give it a try.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 19, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks Amanda this is more a part of the Swahili cuisine rather than Indian, though it looks like the Indian bateta vada.

  • chezlerevefrancais

    December 19, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    These look very moreish to me! My family would love this too.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 19, 2018 at 7:21 pm

      Thank you so much.

  • FoodTrails

    December 19, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    Very interesting take in our batata vada!! These look so delicious!! Use of garlic must have added to a whole new flavor to the dish!! Looks so tempting and easy to make!!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 19, 2018 at 7:02 pm

      It is easy to make and as a good alternate to bateta.

  • Caroline

    December 19, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    These look so packed with flavor. I was only in Mombassa briefly years ago so didn’t get to try too broad a range of food but could see there was a wonderfully diverse history.

  • Mina Joshi (@GiveMeSomeSpice)

    April 18, 2019 at 11:54 am

    I love these “potato bombs” as we used to call them as they could be quite hot!! Your description of Mombasa brought back memories of our holidays there but also reminded me that my dad immigrated to Kenya to help build the Railway. Loved Mombasa and hope that I can visit again.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      April 18, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      Thanks Mina, hope you will be able to visit it one day. Nowadays viazi karai as its known are not too hot.

  • Narmadha

    April 18, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Lovely dish. Love those spicy chutney with yummy potatoes. Good to know about this mosamba dish

    1. mayurisjikoni

      April 18, 2019 at 5:26 pm

      Thank you so much Narmadha.

  • Dimpy Chotai

    May 1, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    I remember going to the shops to have these when I went for a holiday in 1989!! Part of my forever memories and so so so moreish!

    I don’t eat onion or garlic – any ideas how how to replace it or can I try leaving it out?

    You have a wonderful website 🙂

    1. mayurisjikoni

      May 3, 2021 at 11:42 am

      Hi Dimpy, if you don’t want to add garlic just leave it out. These days the cheaper version they make in the cafes and street, is without garlic. Just mix the chilli powder, salt and lemon juice. Remember to adjust the salt as you’re not using garlic.

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