Kachri Bateta/ Babu Kachri
EVENT: SUNDAY FUNDAY
RECIPE: KACHRI BATETA/ BABU KACHRI
Kachri Bateta/ Babu Kachri
Kachri Bateta/ Kachri Babu is a tangy, lip smacking spicy potato stew served with a dry coconut mango chutney and topped with ganthia and crushed potato crisps or chips.
first publish on 20/05/2012, updated & republished on 14/03/2021
What is Kachri Bateta/ Kachri Babu?
Kachri Bateta, also known as Kachri Babu is a famous street food from Mombasa. In fact, it’s believed that this dish is influenced both by the Swahili and Indian Cuisine. Probably, the potato stew is of Indian origin but addition of grated or minced raw mango to the stew is from the Swahili cuisine. Specifically, the topping of ganthia or thick sev and potato crisps is Indian. The chutney is very coastal. Before we go into my early memories of Kachri Bateta/ Babu Kachri, its imperative to explain some of the terms I’ve used in the description.
Explanation of some of the terms:
Kachri is the Gujarati word for crisps or chips. Lot of confusion there right? Well, what the British and many of its former colonies call crisp is Chips to the Americans. In regard to this street food, mostly potato crisps or potato chips is used. Actually, Kachri Bateta/ Babu Kachri is incomplete without a generous topping of potato crisps or chips.
Bateta is the Gujarati name for potatoes.
Ganthia, Tikhi Sev, is a famous Indian snack which looks like noodles but the similarity stops there. Generally, salt, spices like red chilli powder, turmeric powder, ajwain and oil are added to chickpea flour. Also water is added to make it into a paste like consistency. Then, this paste is pressed through a sev sancha or machine into hot oil for deep frying. After frying, the noodle shaped ganthia is then broken up into smaller pieces.
Kachri Bateta/ Babu Kachri – Famous Street Food From Mombasa
Especially in the old parts of Mombasa and at Lighthouse (which is now called Mama Ngina Waterfront Park) are filled with vendors selling different types of street food. Kachri Bateta/ Babu Kachri is one of them. Look out for little glass covered carts if you ever want to taste kachri bateta.
In fact my in laws and their friends always mentioned kachri bateta with nostalgia. According to them there use to be a man with his cart selling kachri bateta outside the famous Naaz Cinema. Interval time every one would buy the hot and fresh tangy stew.
photo shared by a friend
On the whole, there is not much information available on the internet as to how this famous street food began in Mombasa. Therefore I felt the best place to ask was on the Facebook Group Friends of Mombasa. Well, from the response by a few members I gathered that Kachri Bateta was started by a man named Huseinbhai Visram. How it got the name Babu Kachri, is perhaps as a reference to the man who made it. Babu in Kiswahili means grandfather but also is a respectful way of addressing a man. Nowadays it common to find so many people making it and selling on the street from their doorsteps.
But, if you’re reading this post and know how this dish became so famous, please leave a comment below.
Certainly, as a kid, coming down to Mombasa from Nairobi was always filled with excitement. Besides enjoying the sand and sea, we definitely ate the variety of street food to our heart’s content. During our stay with my aunt, we’d look forward to a snack of Kachri Bateta or Babu Kachri in the afternoon. Patiently, my cousins, siblings and I would sit by the windows keeping our ears open for that bicycle ring. As soon as we’d hear it, we’d shout ‘ting ting ting’. That was a signal for my aunt to go out and buy kachri bateta. Back then no one was really concerned about newspaper ink being bad for health. The vendor selling it would make the stew a little dryish so that it would not seep out of the newspaper. Back then, plastic was unheard of and paper plates a rarity.
Other Mombasa Street Food Recipes You May Want To Check Out
Fried Mogo/ Fried Cassava –deep fried cassava served with salt, red chilli powder and a generous drizzle of lemon juice.
Kaimati– is the Swahili version of doughnuts. Deep fried sweet balls are soaked in sugar syrup.
Mamri/ Mahamri– Golden Brown puffed up triangles that are usually enjoyed as breakfast with some hot tea or coffee.
Mbaazi– pigeon peas are cooked in a coconut curry. Its usually enjoyed as breakfast or a meal with Mahamri.
Vatidar Bhajia – lentil fritters served with coconut chutney.
Mombasa Mix – another lip smacking street food. Brown Chickpeas are cooked in a coconut and mango curry. Its served with vatidar bhajia, coconut chutney and chevdo (Bombay mix).
Sunday Funday is a group of Food Bloggers who every Sunday share some fun, traditional, hearty or easy recipes to make Sunday Family Meals a bit more exciting. To join this fun group, visit the Sunday Funday Facebook Page. Request to join in. This Sunday the theme is CHIPS suggested by Rebekah. March 14th is National Chip Day and Rebekah suggested we share dishes that incorporate chips or any homemade chips recipe. My contribution for this theme is the famous Mombasa Street Food Kachri Bateta/ Babu Kachri.
Check Out What Fellow Members of Sunday Funday made:
- Butterfinger Potato Chip Cookies by Palatable Pastime
- Cheesy Potato Chips Skillet Pie by Sneha’s Recipe
- Doritos Taco Salad by Making Miracles
- Kachri Bateta by Mayuri’s Jikoni
- Parmesan-Garlic Pita Chips by Amy’s Cooking Adventures
- Parmesan Potato Chips by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Potato Chip-Crusted Abalone by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Potato Chip Crusted Cod by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Salt-and-Vinegar Chip Crusted Cod Fingers by Food Lust People Love
Ingredients Required For Kachri Bateta/ Babu Kachri
- Potatoes – peeled and chopped into chunks. Best to use potatoes that are usually used for mashed potatoes.
- Fresh Tomato Puree – homemade or canned
- Raw Mango – peeled and grated for both the chutney and the stew
- Garlic – for the stew. Peel and mince.
- Fresh Fenugreek – methi, finely chopped and optional, for the stew. Can replace it with chopped fresh coriander or cilantro.
- Red Chilli Powder – for the stew, use according to your taste.
- Salt – for both the stew and the chutney
- Water – normal tap water for the stew
- Oil – vegetable oil for the stew
- Fresh Coconut – grated for the chutney. No desiccated coconut will not give the same taste. You can use fresh frozen coconut which is easily available in the freezer section of most Indian or Sri Lankan stores.
- Green Chillis Paste – add according to your taste
- Tikhi Sev or Ganthia – I’ve used store bought one. Its easily available in any Indian Store.
- Potato Crisps or Chips – usually the ones we get in Kenya and India are freshly made in shops. Whenever I make this dish in Canada, US or UK we get the kettle chips. Best to use plain or salted and not flavored crisps or chips.
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KACHRI BATETA/BABU KACHRI
FOR THE POTATO STEW:
- 5-6 medium potatoes
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- ¼ cup fresh fenugreek or coriander washed and chopped
- ½ -1 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 cups tomato puree
- 1½ tsps salt
- 4 cups water
- ½ cup raw mango grated
- 1 tbsp oil
FOR THE COCONUT MANGO CHUTNEY:
- 2 cups fresh coconut finely grated
- ½ cup raw mango finely grated
- ½ - 1 tsp green chilli paste
- ¼ tsp salt
- 250 g thick sev/tikha ganthia
- 500 g potato crisps or chips
PREPARATION OF THE POTATO STEW:
- Wash, peel and cut potatoes into chunks.
- Take the grated mango for the stew and process it into a paste using a food processor or mortar and pestle.
- Heat oil in a pan. Saute the garlic till it turns light pink.
- Add the chilli powder and fenugreek. Stir fry for a few seconds.
- Add the potatoes and salt. Mix.
- Add 1 cup of water from the measured amount. Cover the pan and cook the potatoes over medium heat till they are done.
- Mash some of the potatoes lightly. This helps to thicken the stew a bit. Don't mash them completely.
- Add the 3 cups of water, tomato puree and raw mango paste.Mix well.
- Cover the pan. Let the stew simmer over medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Adjust the taste of the curry according to your preference.
PREPARATION OF THE COCONUT MANGO CHUTNEY:
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Spoon some of the stew into a deep dish. Add to it lightly crushed sev and crisps/chips. Add the chutney on top and serve immediately.
- Great dish to prepare ahead for parties and as a tea time snack.
- Thick sev or ganthias or jadi sev is available readily in most indian shops or confectionery places.
- Make sure the curry is not too salty if you are going to use ready salted crisps.
- If you have any left over chutney, just grind it in a liquidizer or food processor with some fresh coriander, ginger , lemon juice and a bit of sugar to make a tasty chutney to use with other dishes.
- I usually grate raw mangoes when in season and store them in the freezer.
- The curry should be a bit watery as when crisps and sev are added, the mixture becomes slightly dry.
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