Makai Paka, East African Corn in Coconut Curry


By Salima Jivraj


Food Writer, Masalamommas

Some people grow up with one or two cultures. I was brought up in three; Canadian, Indian and East African. After immigrating to Tanzania from India, my grandparents and parents assimilated well into African culture speaking perfect Swahili and fully embracing their new African life. But they also made sure they stuck to their South Asian roots as well and therefore remained fluent in Gujarati, Kutchi, Urdu and Hindi.

Their heritage stood out strong in their foods as well. What emerged from this migration was a fusion of Indian foods with East African flare. I would describe East African/Indian food as vibrant, colourful and packed with an intensity that mirrors the Tanzanian landscape.

A perfect example of this fusion is my summer time favourite, East African style corn in coconut curry, or Makai Paka. Quick to make and readily available ingredients make this a wonderful side dish.



  • 5 fresh corn-on-the-cob, cut into thirds  (15 pieces)
  • 5tbs crushed tomato
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tsp Ground green chillies to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground fresh coriander
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 400 ml tin of coconut milk
  • 2 tbs of lemon juice or more to taste
  • 1 hand full of fresh coriander, chopped



Cut corn into thirds.

Prepare your masala water by mixing crushed tomato, salt, turmeric powder, ground green chillies, ground coriander and water in a bowl.

Dip each corn into masala water to coat and immediately place in pot. Pour remaining masala water over corn. Cover and place over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until corn is cooked, roughly 25 minutes.
Once corn is done, turn heat to low. Bring corn pieces to side and add coconut milk to the other side with no corn, stirring continuously.
Keep stirring and coating the corn constantly until mixture reaches to a low boil – it’s important to keep stirring so the milk doesn’t break. Let it slowly simmer until sauce thickens slightly (continue stirring and coating corn) then turn off heat.



Add chopped fresh coriander and mix. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly and quickly. Let the corn stand for at least 5 minutes before serving to allow sauce to thicken.

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