Zanzibar Sesame Bread ~ Mkate Wa Ufuta

Mkate Wa Ufuta. Say that three times fast. Actually, just say Zanzibar sesame bread, click your heels, and with barely any effort and just a few minutes you can make this simple, indulgent, versatile flatbread made from ingredients we bet you already have in your pantry.

Three pieces of mkate wa ufuta (Zanzibar sesame bread) with some sesame seeds sprinkled around it.

Mkate wa ufuta. We know what you’re thinking. Mkate what?! Yet once you try this unique and chewy, toasty, nutty, densely magnificent sesame flatbread from Zanzibar, you’ll be crooning about it to everyone who’ll listen, even if you don’t know what the name means. It’s essentially a dense griddle bread that’s more about texture than taste. It’s perfect for dipping or dunking or sopping or plain old noshing. As for that name, we’re not quite certain how to pronounce it, even after much research. But you can bet we practice saying it each time we make mkate wa ufuta, which has been often.Angie Zoobkoff

Zanzibar Sesame Bread | Mkate Wa Ufuta

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 6
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Whisk together the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.

Stir in the coconut milk and egg just until combined and knead everything in the bowl or turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. At first the ingredients will be a shaggy mess but eventually a smooth dough will form if you use a lot of strength, usually after 5 to 7 minutes. The dough will be dense and firm rather than spongy and soft. If it seems impossibly dry, add another tablespoon coconut milk as you knead. (Alternatively, you can make the dough in your stand mixer and knead it hands-free for about the same amount of time.)

Cover the bowl containing the dough with a damp kitchen towel and place it in a warm place to rest for 30 to 60 minutes. The dough will rise slightly and become puffier and softer but it won’t necessarily double in size as we’re accustomed to with most yeasted bread doughs. It’s really more about the resting than the rising.

Tester tip: If you want slightly less dense bread, then let the dough rest in a very warm place, such as an oven with the pilot light on, and wait for the dough to nearly double in size.

Divide the dough into 6 balls. Pat each ball or slap it between the palms of your hands to form a round shape about 6 1/2 inches wide and between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Place the dough rounds on your work surface, rub the top side of each dough round fairly generously with oil, and sprinkle each with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, being certain to gently press the seeds into the dough.

Heat a large saute pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Place a dough round in the skillet, sesame side down, and cook until the top side puffs ever so slightly and the underside turns golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. It may be necessary to reduce the heat to medium-low to find the sweet spot where the bread cooks through but doesn’t become too brown.

Drizzle the top of the dough with oil, rub it over the surface, sprinkle with some sesame seeds and a little salt, and then flip the dough. Cook until the other side is lightly browned and cooked in the middle, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Transfer the cooked bread to a plate, carefully wipe out the pan with paper towels, and repeat with the remaining dough. (Be certain to wipe out the pan after each bread to remove any lost sesame seeds and prevent them from burning.)

Serve the bread warm—preferably straight from the skillet—whether alone, slathered with butter, dipped in pan juices, or dunked into soup, stew, or curry. Originally published October 25, 2016.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This mkate wa ufuta, or Zanzibar sesame bread, is a very easy recipe and absolutely delicious. It’s a soft, chewy bread with a slight crunch from the sesame seeds. It didn't taste like coconut at all, contrary to what I expected. I am really happy with this bread.

This bread proofs extremely slowly. I had it on the counter for about 1 hour, with almost no change. Then I put it in the oven, with the lamp on only, and let it double, which took about 2 more hours.

We ate the bread warm with red lentil soup. Really nice.

I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting with this mkate wa ufuta bread, but it pleasantly surprised me with both its simplicity and flavor. I made it on a day when I felt like I didn't have the time for starting a traditional loaf of bread but I wanted some fresh bread to serve with the beef stew we were having for dinner. This recipe looked promising and turned out to be a great choice.

I kneaded the dough for 15 minutes (well over the 5 to 7 minutes mentioned in the recipe) and i t never really got smooth, although it was a little smoother after 15 minutes. It was a tough dough to knead, not light and springy, but heavy and solid. Once it had risen, though, it was much softer and easier to work with. After 30 minutes, the dough had not risen much, if at all. I let it rise for 30 minutes longer and at that point it had approximately doubled in size. I cooked it for 2 minutes per side.

While it was cooking, it smelled so good that I could not stop myself from trying one hot out of the pan. It was wonderful with its soft, steaming interior and toasted sesame flavor. It remained soft inside and flavorful once it cooled, but I found it was best when eaten within a day of being cooked. The bread was best warm out of the pan, but also quite good once it had cooled down. We ate it with a hearty beef stew to sop up the stew juices, but it was also wonderful on its own as an appetizer, no butter necessary.


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    1. Hi, Lee. We didn’t test it that way. There will be certain adjustments you’ll need to make, primarily with the amount of liquid you use. But because we didn’t test it I can’t tell you exactly how much. If you do try it, let us know how it turns out!

  1. My mom used to work for the Ambassador of Tanzania, and his chef would make this amazing bread. He also made a stew, I have no idea what it was called but it was made with chicken and I am not sure if it was nutty or coconutty, but it was heavenly and tastes great with the bread. Could anyone venture a guess as to what this stew could be? I imagine it was a local or regional dish. I would love to find the recipe and prepare it together with the bread. Thanks for posting this recipe, it brings me back to my childhood and the wonderful dishes of Chef Yuma!

    1. Patricia, what wonderful memories and experiences you must have! Many thanks for sharing some of them here. Let’s put the question out to all our other readers and see what suggestions come your way…

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