• Corn in coconut sauce (mahindi ya naz) (China Squirrel)

With its Arabic and Indian influences, this dish is typical of the Swahili coast. The dish is made up of three parts which include corn cooked in coconut sauce, lamb suqaar (a traditional Somalian stir-fry) and a sweet cardamom-spiced bread called mahamri, also known as Swahili buns or doughnuts.






Skill level

Average: 4.2 (9 votes)


Mahamri (Swahili buns)

  • 450 g (3 cups) plain flour
  • 1 cup coconut milk powder (see Note)
  • 55 g (¼ cup) white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp dried active yeast
  • 300 ml milk
  • oil, for deep-frying


Coconut corn

  • 6 corn cobs, cut into 10 cm-thick pieces 
  • 1 cup coconut milk powder (see Note)
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder



  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 g lamb, finely diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ red capsicum, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 pinch salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time: 1 hour

To make the mahamri, mix the flour, coconut milk powder, sugar, cardamom and yeast in a large bowl (see Note). Add the milk and combine well to form a dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes or until dough springs back when pressed with a finger. Place into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place for 1 hour or until dough doubles in bulk.

Punch dough down, and cut into 3. Form the dough into balls. Use a rolling pin to roll out to 5 mm thick rounds. Cut each round  into quarters.

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the mahamri carefully, a few at a time, and fry until they puff up and turn golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

To make the coconut corn, put the corn pieces in a large saucepan. Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over the corn. Cook over low heat for 10–15 minutes. Set aside.

To make the suqaar, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients and stir-fry or until the meat is cooked. Set aside.

Serve the coconut corn and suqaar with the mahamri for dipping. Break apart a mahamri and use as a scoop.


Cook's notes

• Mahamri are eaten plain for breakfast or used to slurp up sauce at dinnertime – you can vary the amount of sugar in the recipe depending on what you’re going to serve them with.

• Coconut milk powder is available from health food stores and African, Indian and Asian grocers.


Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel

(Plate from Stem.)