Mombasa Style Baked Chicken Curry with Vegetables

Mombasa Style Baked Chicken Curry with Vegetables

Baharat |

Mombasa’s rich, coconut infused chicken curry is a dish the whole family will love.  Redolent of exotic, warm spices, and served on a bed of roasted vegetables, this curry is prepared in the oven.  It’s perfect for entertaining or for a casual weeknight supper.

I know curry isn’t really Indian.  But, there’s a reason its Indian-inspired flavors are so beloved that they’ve been endlessly tinkered with, adapted, and renamed.  They’re exotic, aromatic, delicious, and timelesss.  These qualities have endeared curry to generations of people across the globe.

If you don’t live in Africa, you will be surprised to learn that curry is beloved here too.  The legendary spice route once ran along the coast of East Africa, where valuable spices were traded for exotic animals, gold, and ivory.  This region of Africa was frequented by Asian and Arab traders, whose cuisines have influenced its cooking.

Hence, Mombasa, Kenya, Durban, South Africa, and  Zanzibar — amongst others — developed their own unique curry blends and dishes.  Today, these blends are a source of pride and an integral part of national identity.

Kuku Paka, Kenya’s Chicken Curry

Mombasa’s kuku paka is a coconut-based curry, which is popular up and down the coast of East Africa.  In Kenya, it is a favorite holiday dish.

Kuku paka’s preparation begins with chicken marinated in a rich assortment of seasonings and braised over hot coals.   Then, the grilled meat is nestled in a richly flavoured coconut milk-based sauce.  The result is a smoky, finger-licking good sauce.  Kuku paka is the fabled fare of Kenyan beach holidays.

However, my family enjoys sauces with plenty of vegetables.  Plus, we don’t live at the beach.  So, charcoal grilling isn’t always convenient.

Therefore, I reworked the recipe to make it oven friendly.  Adding roasting vegetables, which absorb the chicken drippings and flavourful sauce as they bake was a no-brainer.

This is not an authentic kuku paka.  However, the sauce is true to the spirit of the original dish and it’s still finger-licking good.

Mombasa Style Baked Chicken Curry with Vegetables | cookglobaleatlocal.comRecipe Notes

My oven baked version of Kenya’s beloved chicken curry uses flavorful dark meat and adds a rich nest of vegetables at the base.  It makes a hearty one-dish meal, which is delicious when served over steamed basmati rice.

I recommend marinating the meat the night before, particularly if you’ll be preparing this curry on a busy day.  Marinating in advance saves you time and deeply infuses the chicken with rich curry flavors.  However, if you are a last-minute cook — as I often am — you can marinate the chicken as briefly as one hour and still enjoy a delicious curry.

As with all of my recipes, please adjust the number of chilies to accommodate your family’s unique tastes.  After all, that’s one of the pleasures of home cooking!  Moreover, if you’re not used to chilies, adding too many will dull your tastebuds and prevent you from enjoying the rich flavors of this dish.

For the roasted vegetables at the base, please feel free to use whatever is available and in season.  If you’re not fond of turnips, exchange them for patty pans.  Even potatoes would be tasty as part of the base.  The trick is to cut the veggies into bite-sized pieces so that they cook through at the same time as the chicken.

I hope your family enjoys this rich, delicious Kenyan chicken curry every bit as much as mine does.  Bon appetit!


Mombasa Style Baked Chicken Curry with Vegetables

Mombasa Style Baked Chicken Curry with Vegetables |
Jeanette Marie
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Prep Time:  1 hour Servings:  8

An easy, oven baked version of one of Kenya’s favorite dishes. This rich, coconut chicken curry is sure to please even the most discerning palates. Best of all? It’s prepared in the oven on a bed of healthy veggies.

  • 1.8 kg chicken drumsticks and thighs (about 16 pieces)
  • 200 g baby turnips, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 250 g baby marrows, sliced into bite-sized rounds
  • 250 g baby eggplants (brinjals), cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 shallot, sliced into petals
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • Freshly ground salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 800 ml coconut milk (2 tins)
  • 1 lemon, juice of
    For the curry paste
  • 6 plum tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
  • 2 white onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, grated or finely minced
  • 8 serrano chilies (or fewer, depending on your family's heat tolerance)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    For serving
  • Fresh coriander leaves
  • Garam masala (optional), to taste

  1. Place curry paste ingredients in a blender jug or in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the metal chopping blade. Pulse until the mixture is ground into a rough paste.
  2. Rub one cup of the curry paste mixture into the chicken, massaging it into the skin and rubbing it into any crevices. Store the seasoned chicken pieces in a sealed container in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to overnight. Reserve the remaining curry paste for the sauce.
  3. Then, preheat oven to 180º C (350º F). Meanwhile, toss turnips, marrows, eggplants, and shallot with 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the vegetable mixture in the base of a rectangular roasting pan. Top with marinated chicken pieces. Bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and juices run clear.
  4. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the reserved curry paste and stir it regularly for about 15 minutes, until oil pools around the edges of the paste. Continue cooking until the paste is thick and a shade or two darker. Add the coconut milk and simmer, stirring intermittently for about 20 more minutes, or until the sauce is about as thick as pancake batter and takes on a rich golden hue. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and the lemon juice. You want to feel a slight pucker in your mouth.
  5. Remove the chicken and vegetables from the oven. Drizzle the sauce over the entire dish to coat and garnish with fresh coriander leaves, and a sprinkling of garam masala (if using). Serve with steamed basmati rice.

Feel free to substitute any good roasting vegetable for those recommended in the recipe. Baby patty pan squash or new potatoes would be delicious options to consider. The key thing is to cut the veggies small enough so that they roast through while the chicken is cooking.


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