The coastal community of Kenya is known for its dishes that tantalize the palate. Viazi vya karai is one such dish and its sold in almost every street corner and is consumed almost faster than its cooked. The fact that it’s almost impossible to keep up with the demands of the customers, should give you a pretty good idea of how much this dish is loved.
Viazi vya karai is very similar to bhajia and many people are indeed confused by the two. This might be due to the fact that they are both dipped into a batter before being deep fried. However, there are two differences between them that stick out for me.
- Viazi vya karai are made by first boiling the potatoes until they are cooked.
- Viazi vya karai are, most often than not, coated in a batter that has all purpose wheat flour.
You can personalize your viazi vya karai in any way that you want. Add as many spices and herbs as you would like to your batter (of course within reason). You can also opt to boil your potatoes with some rosemary for the flavour to permeate and add more flair to your dish. Do not forget to season your potatoes with salt adequately because there is nothing as bad as having bland potatoes.
I also love to add some lemon and chilli paste in between my potatoes. I find that the citric acid from the lemon awakens and brightens all the flavours. And, do not worry if you have any left overs of the chilli lemon paste, you can apply it on many foods. For example, mangoes, pineapples, roasted maize, deep fried cassavas etc.
Make sure that your oil is not too hot because it will lead to your batter coating burning too fast before the potatoes heat through on the inside.
- 3 large potatoes
- 1 Tbs red chilli powder
- salt to taste
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 150g All purpose wheat flour
- 80g gram flour
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 Tbs spring onions
- 1 Tbs coriander leaves
- Enough oil to deep fry
- Wash your potatoes and then boil them with their skin on until they are completely cooked.
- Meanwhile, make a paste by mixing the chilli, lemon juice and salt.
- Mix your batter by adding the wheat flour, gram flour, turmeric, coriander leaves, spring onions and salt to taste in a bowl. Add enough water to make a batter that has a pancake consistency.
- Once the potatoes are cooked completely drain all the water and allow them to cool completely before peeling off their skins.
- Cut them into quarter wedges. Take each wedge and then divide it into two. Apply the chilli-lemon paste in between and then dip them into the batter.
- Coat the wedges all over with the batter and then deep fry in vegetable oil that is heated to medium heat.
- Once the batter cooks and turns to a beautiful golden brown colour take them off the hot oil and drain them on a kitchen paper.
- Serve with ukwaju (tamarind chutney)