Kenyan Keema Chapati (East African Chapati with Lamb)

March 24, 2015 (Last Updated: March 9, 2020)

Kenyan Keema Chapati are delicious, meat stuffed flatbreads, popular in Kenya and East Africa. This recipe features these addictive East African chapati with lamb stuffing!

Kenyan Keema Chapatis arranged in a bowl

Kenyan Keema chapati are kind of amazing. There is really little more to say about it but I’ll try and tell you more about this delicious Kenyan chapati delicacy. Traditionally, chapati are a type of flatbread or roti with Indian roots made from unleavened wheat flour. While roti and chapati are almost indistinguishable from each other, a classic chapati is usually flat and roasted in a pan with oil while roti might vary in thickness and are roasted without oil. The Kenyan chapati takes more liberties with its preparation with the choice of both leavened and unleavened variations and its keema chapati which involves stuffing the chapati dough with ground meat before roasting it vs how it may traditionally be eaten where the keema is used separately as a side with the chapati flatbread. There is quite the technique to nailing this correctly but thanks to this East African Chapati recipe, where I use lamb stuffing as a filling you’ll be munching on your own Keema chapatis in no time!

History of East African and Kenyan Chapati

Chapati, for a dish that was imported from India has gained quite the staple status in Kenyan and East African cuisine joining the ranks of Pilau and ugali as one of the national dishes of Kenya and other East African countries. While the introduction of pilau to Kenya and East Africa has been attributed to the Influence of Asian traders as a result of commerce along the swahili coast, the spread of chapati is likely associated with the large influx of Indians who came to Kenya in 1895 as indentured servants to build the Kenya-Uganda Railway between 1895-1901. Many of these Indians assimilated into Kenyan society with the encouragement of the British colonial government, where some settled down and opened up businesses, selling their staple foods including Chapati to Kenyans. This Indian presence (also suspected to have caused the introduction of chapati to other East African countries) grew so much that in 1929 over 80% of small retail and wholesale shops in Kenya were Indian owned. Even though the Kenyan chapati as one of the results of this influence is not indigenous to Kenya, it has integrated seamlessly into Kenyan modern culture and cuisine and is a popular favorite in Kenyan festivals, celebrations and the homes of the poor and wealthy.

Regular chapati are pretty great on their own, but stuffed with a spiced lamb filling these flatbreads are elevated to a high that you would absolutely love. I remember the first time my Kenyan friend brought frozen keema chapati to my house a few years ago, I almost said no to her when she offered them to me (I was on this only fresh food diet… kinda), but I went ahead and tried a piece. Well, that bread certainly did not last long, and after that I went on a personal journey to learn how to make them myself.

After several unsuccessful attempts at getting the bread perfectly sealed an stuffed I finally discovered a fairly easy method of stuffing the Kenyan chapati.

How to Properly Stuff Chapati with Meat

Here is the trick to stuffing the perfect Keema Chapati: When rolling out the un-stuffed dough, leave a little bump in the center. The filling should be about half the size of the dough and should be placed on the center bump. Once the filling is placed on the dough, gently pinch together the thinner dough edges until the entire dough is sealed. It roughly resemble a dumpling. Gently roll out the dough sealed side down first, flip the dough and gently roll it sealed side up. Roll the dough until its roughly 1/8th of an inch thick, then it’s ready for the pan.

2-step image showing how to stuff East African keema chapati3-step image showing how to stuff Kenyan keema chapatiAnother trick to a successful Keema Chapati is a low moisture stuffing. This requires really lean ground lamb (of course you may use ground beef, turkey or which ever meat you choose, but lamb is my fave).

How to Make Keema Chapati

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of ground lamb
  • 1/2 a small red onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • *For the dough
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/3 – 2/3 cup water

Preparation

  1. To make the filling, place the onions in a saute pan on medium heat with the ground meat and stir fry until the meat turns brown.
  2. Once the meat is brown, turn up the heat to high, and add in the the spices and salt. Continue to stir for another 3 minutes until the mixture is fragrant. After three minutes, go ahead and taste for salt, and adjust to your liking. Turn off the heat, then Add the cilantro. If you used a lean cut of meat, there should be little to no oil in the pan of meat. If you do have a lot of oil in the pan, drain the meat slightly. St the meat aside and allow to cool completely.
  3. To make the dough, sift the all purpose and whole wheat flour together, and rub in the melted butter. Add the water to the dough one tablespoon at a time, until it forms a smooth dough (not sticky, but soft and pliable). I used a little over 1/2 a cup of water for my dough. Once the dough forms, allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into 8 pieces once it has rested, then stuff each piece as described above.
  5. Place a non stick pan on medium heat, and cook the flat bread in the pan for 3- 5 minutes on each side. It should be nicely brown on each side.
  6. Serve warm.

East African Chapati with Lamb - Holding the Kenyan keema chapati

Kenyan Keema Chapati Recipe (East African Chapati with Lamb)

Kenyan Keema Chapati are delicious, meat stuffed flatbreads, popular in Kenya and East Africa. This recipe features these addictive East African chapati with lamb stuffing!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: East African, Kenyan
Servings: 8
Calories: 236kcal
Author: Yummy Medley

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of ground lamb
  • 1/2 a small red onion finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • *For the dough
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/3 - 2/3 cup water

Instructions

  • To make the filling, place the onions in a sautee pan on medium heat with the ground meat and stir fry until the meat turns brown.
  • Once the meat is brown, turn up the heat to high, and add in the the spices and salt. Continue to stir for another 3 minutes until the mixture is fragrant. After three minutes, go ahead and taste for salt, and adjust to your liking. Turn off the heat, then Add the cilantro. If you used a lean cut of meat, there should be little to no oil in the pan of meat. If you do have a lot of oil in the pan, drain the meat slightly. St the meat aside and allow to cool completely.
  • To make the dough, sift the all purpose and whole wheat flour together, and rub in the melted butter. Add the water to the dough one table spoon at a time, until it forms a smooth dough (not sticky, but soft and pliable). I used a little over 1/2 a cup of water for my dough. Once the dough forms, allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 8 pieces once it has rested, then stuff each piece as described above.
  • Place a non stick pan on medium heat, and cook the flat bread in the pan for 3- 5 minutes on each side. It should be nicely brown on each side.
  • Serve warm.

Notes

Once the Keema Chapatis are cooked, you could it freeze flat on wax paper once its frozen you could place in a zip bag and save for later.To reheat, simply pop the Chapatis in a pop up toaster and serve.

3 Comments

  • Reply
    Sharon
    March 24, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Great step by step tutorial for these chapatis. I’ll definitely be giving them a shot.

    • Reply
      Ms. Yum
      March 24, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks Sharon!

  • Reply
    ChiO
    March 24, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Looks delicious. This is a meal all by itself. love!

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