Roasted Maize – African Style!

By Mark Wiens 33 Comments

In East Africa it’s one of the most popular and available snacks on the street.  It’s cheap, easy to eat, filling and delicious!  Along the streets from Dar Es Salaam to Nairobi you will find this African style of grilled corn, known as Maize.

maize-grilled

It begins with starchy mature field corn, not the baby yellow corn that is common in other parts of the world. Young corn would wilt at the reaction of fire, but because African maize is picked mature, it roasts almost like popcorn, minus the eruption.

grilled-corn-africa

The corn pops and hisses as it roasts and begins to turn a golden yellow and black color.  There are no utensils used in this cooking method.  The vendor uses his bare hands to pick up the scorching cob and even to rearrange the burning coals themselves!

chili-lime-maize

When you order your maize, the roaster will apply a seasoning mixture combination of salt, chilies, and lime.  The flaming hot piece of corn is then placed in a husk, making it manageable to hold and eat.

grilled-maize

The flavor of the corn itself is excellent and the added seasoning makes maize a wonderful snack!

grilled-maize-tanzania

maize-africa

If you need a quick bite to keep you going in East Africa, look no further than a roasted maize vendor!



33 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Juliet Ronah

    6 years ago

    I Love it so much, it is so tasty

  • Pamela

    6 years ago

    It’s soo delicious omg, Dar es salaam is da best place to hv it!
    It’s just taste soo niceeee!..very mouth watering,you won’t get it the same else where in the world.
    Oysterbay in Dar es salam is the best place to eat alot of delicious traditional food!
    From roasted cassave with African style salad to roasted maize,from delicious tasty mix to amaizing baby coconut filled with mashed potatoes and different sauces!
    It’s just too good!!!!

  • Dina

    6 years ago

    I love roasted corn, but yes, I love the young kind. I’m a bit skeptical with this hard-mature one, tried it several times and never get impressed. I mean, I love corn regardless, but I would prefer the softer kind. From what you are saying here though, ti supposed to be delicious? Maybe I have to give it another try in Africa!

  • WanderingTrader

    6 years ago

    Yep.. first thing im eating while im in kenya.. too bad it comes out the other end.. lol

  • Rebecca

    7 years ago

    YUM! There is nothing like the flavour of corn roasted on coals or on a barbecue. And that seasoning sounds like the perfect way to finish it off. Can’t wait to munch this on a street side in East Africa!

  • Shamis @ World Travel

    7 years ago

    Yum…these look delicious. Sometimes the best food we find happen to be street food. While I would be careful to eat street food, this seems fine since it’s BBQ corn 🙂

    • Juliet Ronah

      6 years ago

      get real as long as it is cooked

  • bonnie

    7 years ago

    lol, the prices I might be charing might make your eyes pop

  • Andrew Murray

    7 years ago

    They grow fields and fields of maize in the south of England, solely for cow fodder. Honestly, it rarely gets eaten by humans.

    I haven’t had maize since I was last in Egypt so I tried some this year.I have to say it wasn’t half bad. A far throw from sweetcorn but it does the job!

  • Christy @ Technosyncratic

    7 years ago

    Corn is probably one of my top 3 favorite foods (I put kernals in every meal possible and eat corn on the cob constantly when it’s in season), so this post makes me really want to visit East Africa! I never would have thought to season it with chiles and lime, but that sounds delicious.

  • Mark Wiens

    7 years ago

    @Harriet: Great, I’m sure you will enjoy it when you get a chance! Thanks for the comment!

  • Mark Wiens

    7 years ago

    @Bonnie:
    Wow Bonnie, that’s great to hear! It’s not “exactly” the popcorn taste, but grilling the corn like this does give it a similar roasted flavor. In Africa, they usually use quite mature corn that is somewhat tough, so when it roasts it doesn’t get too juicy but remains firm.

    The flavoring consists of salt, whole chopped chilies, and is rubbed on the corn with a piece of lime.

    The great flavor of roasting corn works well with any kind of corn, sweet corn, or soft corn included, and the extra flavoring salt adds great flavor.

    Hope this can help a bit, feel free to e-mail me if you have any other questions!

    I wish you the best of luck. When I come to HK next time, I’m stopping by!

  • Harriet

    7 years ago

    Sounds amazing! I went to africa two years ago now and we didn’t try maize whilst we were out there, the school I was with was very strict on us eating anything thay hadn’t approved. But next time I’m out there I’ll most definatley try it!

  • bonnie

    7 years ago

    Hi Mark, I operate a food distribution business in HK and in the planning stage of a new venture of a counter at a supermarket baking and grilling various vegetables (potatoes & sweet yams) are part of the menu in consideration, and after reading your blog, it gave me the idea of corns, and I want to find out more info from you. If it’s grilled all the way to slightly burnt, it will have the popcorn taste with salt? You mentioned the chili salt spice, are there other varieties?

  • Mark Wiens

    7 years ago

    @Iamthewitch: Yes, it’s awesome! Thanks for checking it out!

    @Bob: Great, I think you will enjoy the extra zest of flavor!

  • Bob

    7 years ago

    BBQ sweetcorn has always been a favorite with my family. We always just season with butter though – so am definitely going to try it Nairobi style!

  • iamthewitch

    7 years ago

    Wow the roasted corn looks fabulous! Slightly charred and fluffy. *drools*

  • Jennifer Barry

    7 years ago

    It sounds delicious! I’ve had something like this, but not in Africa. The Mexicans are also fond of corn, chiles, and lime.

  • Mark Wiens

    7 years ago

    @Bonnie: Yes, African Popcorn!

    @Jeremy: Thanks!

    @Kieron: Thanks, 1 of my favorite snacks!

  • Kieron

    7 years ago

    Barbecued/roasted corn is awesome! Those photos have made me hungry all of a sudden… nice job!

  • Jeremy B

    7 years ago

    Ymmy! I love roasted corn! This looks delicious!

    • Al M

      4 years ago

      RRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTTT!

  • bonnie

    7 years ago

    sounds delicious once you described it as popcorn