East African Kuku Paka Recipe

If you’re a fan of exotic flavors and love to explore diverse cuisines, then Kuku Paka should be on your must-try list. Originating from the coastal regions of East Africa, Kuku Paka is a rich and creamy chicken curry dish that tantalizes the taste buds with a unique blend of aromatic spices and creamy coconut milk.

In this recipe, we will take you through a step-by-step guide on how to make Kuku Paka in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Kuku paka
Photo by ALLEKO via Getty Images


  • 1 kg chicken, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped (adjust according to your spice preference)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
  • Salt to taste


Marinating the chicken:

  • In a bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
  • Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes. This will help tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor.

Sautéing the onions and spices:

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add the finely chopped onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
  • Add the minced garlic and grated ginger, and cook for another minute until fragrant.

 Adding the spices and tomatoes:

  • Reduce the heat to low and add the ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric powder, paprika, and garam masala to the pan.
  • Stir the spices for a minute to release their flavors.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and green chilies, and cook until the tomatoes soften and release their juices.
See also  Moroccan Chicken Tagine

 Cooking the chicken:

  • Increase the heat to medium and add the marinated chicken to the pan.
  • Cook the chicken for about 5-7 minutes until it is lightly browned on all sides.

Simmering with coconut milk:

  • Reduce the heat to low and pour in the coconut milk.
  • Stir well to combine the chicken with the coconut milk and spices.
  • Cover the pan and let the curry simmer gently for 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  • Stir occasionally to prevent the curry from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Adjusting the seasoning:

  • Taste the curry and add salt as needed.
  • If you prefer a spicier curry, you can add more green chilies or a pinch of chili powder at this stage.

Garnishing and serving:

Once the chicken is cooked and the flavors have melded together, turn off the heat.

Garnish the Kuku Paka with freshly chopped coriander leaves for a vibrant touch.

Tips for a Perfect Kuku Paka:

Adjust the spice level: Kuku Paka is a versatile dish that can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences.

If you like it mild, reduce the amount of green chilies or omit them altogether. On the other hand, if you enjoy spicy flavors, feel free to add more chilies or sprinkle some chili powder.

Use fresh ingredients: Whenever possible, use fresh tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and spices to enhance the flavors of the dish.

Fresh ingredients contribute to the vibrant taste and aroma of Kuku Paka.

Choose the right chicken: Opt for bone-in chicken pieces, such as thighs or drumsticks, as they add more flavor to the curry.

See also  Kenyan Ugali

You can also use boneless chicken if you prefer, but keep in mind that bone-in chicken tends to be juicier and more succulent.

Don’t rush the cooking process: Simmering the curry slowly allows the flavors to develop and infuse into the chicken. Patience is key when making Kuku Paka, as it ensures a rich and aromatic curry.

Taste and adjust: Remember to taste the curry along the way and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Everyone’s palate is different, so feel free to customize the flavors to suit your liking.

Garnish with love: Fresh coriander leaves not only add a pop of color to the dish but also contribute a refreshing flavor. Sprinkle them generously over the Kuku Paka before serving.