Swahili Chicken… A trip back to Mombasa!

Scrumplicious Food! Blog_MG_1209When I was in college, I got to experience life on my own. One of the things to do as a coming of age ritual was to leave the hustle and bustle of the capital city Nairobi, for the quite and tranquil historic  town of Mombasa, nestled on the warm and beautiful coastal shores of Kenya.

Mombasa is to East Africa, what the Caribbean is to the US.  Lovely white powder sand beaches, deep blue skies, warm ocean water,  lazy days under the tropical sun, non stop come on let’s dance music, delicious foods and tropical drinks abound. You cannot  go wrong in Mombasa. They call it Mombasa Happy!

You can read about Mombasa here.
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Back in the day, when I went with friends we would hit the white sandy beach parties by night and then wake up late morning to walk the town and visit restaurants to sample and indulge in the local coastal cuisine of the Swahili people. ( A big shout out to my girlfriends. You know yourselves!)

Swahili is the local language derived from the local Bantu Africans and the Arabs that settled in the region years and years ago.

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To this day, I remember eating the traditional and delicate rice biriyani, a dish that came with sumptuous baked chicken. That chicken had flavours so tantalizing and so captivating that I often dream of the day I will go back to Mombasa and find the ladies that make the chicken so that I can get a recipe or idea of how they make this unbelievable dish.

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A year or so ago, I visited Dubai and found a cook book full of different recipes of Arabian influence.  The cook book sat on my kitchen counter for about one year, before my nostalgia for Mombasa food was once again activated:  You see, the dish I am writing about, is of Arabian influence. I had not remembered this until suddenly I saw it: A recipe for Swahili Chicken was right there on page 68 of the 200 Curries cook book. I could not contain my excitement. It was surreal. I had  found my way back to Mombasa, I had found a way to make my beloved Swahili Chicken. So here I share it with you.

Here is the tantalizing recipe for Swahili Chicken.

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This is a two step process.

  • Step 1. Marinate for 6-8  hours. You can marinate early morning before work and then bake in the evening or marinate overnight and cook next morning, whichever works for you.
  • Step 2. Bake. Instructions are given below.


  • 12 Chicken Drumsticks
  •  Marinade, spicy . This is how to make your marinade.
    • 4 tsp grated ginger root
    • 6 cloves garlic
    • 2 tsp ground tumeric
    • 1 Tbsp paprika
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 8 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 4 Tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
    • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
    • 4oz natural plain yogurt
    • 1 Tbsp honey
    • salt and pepper to taste

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How to make Swahili Chicken

 To marinate

Place chicken in a large bowl.

In a small bowl mix all other ingredients.

Pour over chicken and mix well. Marinate chicken in refrigerator for 6-8 hours

To bake

Preheat oven to 300°F or 150°C.

Place chicken in a shallow lightly oiled baking dish.

Bake for 1 hour (uncovered) and then for ½ hour (covered in foil).

Serve with rice or pita bread or noodles and enjoy!

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. looks delicious. love your photos

    • Thanks to you we are inspired to work on some delicious dessert goodies. Love your blog and stories.

  2. Thanks foodieinthedesert. Glad you stopped by. Hopefully we can meet up sometime when we come to visit.

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