Makai Paka (Corn cobs in coconut sauce)

This dish has connections to the happy years I spent in Mombasa and memories of any and every dish having some ‘tui’ coconut milk added to it. There is makai (corn) paka, kuku (chicken) paka, machi (fish) paka, dhal (lentils) paka etc.

The recipe has many versions and was imported to the West, this version is the one Mehrin of Reading uses, has a wonderful rich gravy that is yummy with puris and paronthas.

Take note of the cheat’s version at the bottom, its an excellent short-cut with ‘similar’ results!


  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 2 tsp gram flour
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 3 fresh green chillies crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh crushed garlic
  • 1 heaped tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 6oz block of cream of coconut dissolved in 2 cups of water or 14oz tin of coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 fresh/frozen (2lb) whole corn on the cob (each cob cut into 3 or 4 pieces)
  • 1 cup frozen/tinned sweet corn kernels – optional
  • fistful of sliced fresh coriander
  • 2 tsps fresh or bottled lime/lemon juice


  1. Add the oil into a large saucepan, add the two flours, heat until the mixture begins to sizzle, add the green chillies, garlic, salt and turmeric, fry together for a couple of minutes.
  1. Add the coconut milk and water, bring to the boil.
  2. Keep the mixture on a slow rolling boil, add the corn cobs and kernels – if using, keep boiling on low heat for about 30 mins, mixing from time to time.
  3. When the mixture thickens, add the lemon juice and fresh coriander, transfer to serving dish.
  4. CHEAT’S VERSION – Place the corn cobs in a large saucepan, add 2 cups of water, and bring to the boil. Add the coconut milk into a blender jug, add 3 green chillies, 2 tsp salt, half tsp turmeric, one tsp fresh/powder garlic, 4 tbs of fresh green coriander and add 1 tbsp maida and 1 tbsp baisen, blitz until well mixed. Pour into the pan of bubbling corn, add corn kernels if using, keep on a rolling boil until liquids are reduced and thickened stirring through from time to time -approx 30 mins. Add fresh lemon juice and fresh coriander.
  5. Serve warm with coconut chutney or tamarind chutney.


Quick Links

About Me

I am Sabiha Khokhar, born in Kenya now living in London – a busy working mother, wife, published author and passionate cook. Despite having many interests in life, my greatest joy is FOOD!

share this recipe:

Still hungry? Here’s more