Kuku Paka – Curry of East African Origin
Kuku paka is a chicken and coconut curry popular across East Africa, such as Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Its origins are from India, but has a distinctly African influence and is very easy to make.
This curry in the traditional sense is not vegan-friendly, as it is made with both chicken (kuku) and hard boiled eggs. But we’re only interested in the sauce, and getting the unique and classic flavours of this curry.
Unlike many chicken curries, the chicken is not marinated in the spices nor is it cooked in the curry sauce, so the chicken actually adds nothing at all to the curry flavour.
So – that makes it perfect for veganisation!
This recipe is really about the curry sauce! I have made this with tofu for the protein, and added a pepper, carrot and sweet potato for some vegetable – mainly for the colours as the curry is yellow-orange in colour. But you make it your own.
Go to the protein link and choose your own source of protein, I personally recommend chickpeas (garbanzo beans) as a great base for this curry to give a nutty edge to it.
In Africa, fruits and vegetables are plentiful due to their climate, and so you can use any vegetable you want. Go to your local market and be adventurous! Choose vegetables you wouldn’t normally buy – ask the seller how to prepare it if you’re not sure.
Like all curries, the more effort you put into it, the more reward you will get in terms of flavour. All the recipes state to mince the garlic and ginger, but as usual I got out the pestal & mortar and pulped them. I also used whole spices to make the curry powder, including cinnamon stick.
But for speed, you can use electric tools or just use powdered spices to make the blend. It’s your kitchen, your rules!
This recipe has been adapted from a number of sources, too numerous to count. But thanks for the curry powder go to the following:
Atul Kochhar – Curries of the World
Dewitt, Wilan, & Stock – Flavours of Africa
BigOven.com Malawi Curry Powder
InternationalCuisine.com Malawian Curry Powder
- 2 cm cinnamon stick
- 2 dried hot chillis peri peri or birds eye
- 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
- 5 cloves
- 0.5 tsp poppy seeds
- 0.5 tsp ground turmeric
- 0.25 tsp peppercorns
- 0.25 tsp cumin seeds
- pinch of black mustard seeds
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 3 tomatoes peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp tomato puree optional
- 1 cm fresh ginger grated/finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced/finely chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 green pepper bell pepper or capsicum pepper, chopped
- 200 g firm tofu cubed
Put all the dried spices into a spice blender or coffee bean grinder and grind to a powder. Alternatively, use a pestal and mortar.
Heat the oil and add the onion and cook until starting to turn translucent.
Add the peppers, and fry for about 5 minutes with the heat turned down.
Add the garlic and ginger, curry powder then the tofu and stir for about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, and cook for around 3 or 4 minutes until they soften. If you live in the UK, you might want to add a squirt of tomato puree as British tomatoes are too watery for cooking.
Add half the coconut milk and bring to boil, then reduce heat and let cook down for about 10-15 minutes until most of the milk has evaporated off.
Add the remainder of the coconut milk and continue to cook for a further 10-15 minutes.
Add lemon juice, stir well and serve.
Seb is a nutritionist registered with the Association for Nutrition and a writer specialising in plant-based nutrition and men’s health. He graduated from Chester University with a masters degree in human nutrition and loves discovering new and vibrant plant-based recipes.