Djibouti's Kashata Za Nazi | Sweet Coconut Squares

This month MENA Cooking Club is sharing recipes from the Republic of Djibouti which is an East African country. Though this is the second round of MENA countries, this is my first time cooking Djibouti cuisine. This time the three dishes included for the challenge were:
  • WAT
  • Sabaayad
  • Kashata
Wat or W'et is a kind of a stew prepared with meat or veggies. Sabaayad is very similar to our Indian flatbread chapati and Kashata is a sweet either made with coconut or peanut or sometimes both; again similar to Indian coconut barfis.

Honestly, this month I have not had the time to do my usual diligent research on Djibouti's cuisine, however, I am glad I managed to make it for the challenge.

Djibouti is a multi-ethnic nation where the majority of the population speak Arabic or French and Islam is the predominant religion. Djiboutian cuisine is a mixture of Somali, Afar, Ethiopian, Yemeni, and French cuisine, with some additional Indian culinary influences. This is why I was not able to find many recipes or bloggers tagged as Djibouti.

Djibouti's Kashata Za Nazi | Sweet Coconut Squares

Sabaayad was my first choice but there was nothing new for me to learn. W'et would have been interesting to try but it was getting too late and so went for Kashata. I know, it is not new to us but I had to go with it to make my life easier with a demanding Kitten and coconut can never go wrong! And if there is a saying that our blood contains coconut then it is true! LOL so much for being a Keralite. :-P

First, I made it with granulated sugar and the second time I tried with brown sugar. Of course, the white sold faster than the brown but both were consumed in the course of two days.  I wanted to incorporate a subtle flavour of peanuts so used it as a garnishing element.

Djibouti's Kashata Za Nazi | Sweet Coconut Squares

Recipe adapted from Stella’s Meza.     

Djibouti's Kashata Za Nazi


For the syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Mix these:
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup coconut milk or water or plain milk (not required if using freshly grated coconut)
1/2 teaspoon milk powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon rose water
a pinch of salt

Peeled and roasted peanuts (optional)


  1. Heat water and sugar in a wide-mouthed pot or saucepan on a low to medium flame.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil without stirring it. You can swirl the pan occasionally to dissolve the sugar evenly.
  3. Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix the desiccated coconut, milk or water, milk powder, rose water and cardamom powder, also a pinch of salt.
  4. Let the sugar water boil to form a one string syrup. You can test this by stretching the syrup between your thumb and your index finger. When you can see a string form that doesn’t break easily and is sticky, then the syrup is ready for the next step.
  5. Add the coconut mixture into the sugar syrup while still in low flame. Stir thoroughly for about 5 minutes or until the mixture comes together and reduces in moisture but not very dry. Switch off once you see the mixture is wet and no excess syrup is seen.**
  6. Transfer the content onto one side of the baking sheet and fold the other end of the baking sheet over the mixture. With a rolling pin, roll the Kashata lightly to even out.
  7. Open the sheet and cut the Kashata into desired shapes and press down a few peanuts on each piece
  8. Let it cool and serve
** Ensure not to keep stirring the mixture for too long that it becomes too dry and refuse to stick together. This happens if it is not taken off the heat at right time. In case your mixture becomes too dry, then add little hot water and stir again and take off the heat.

Currently spending most of my time with Ragee (kitten) as we would definitely miss her and still have no idea where to keep her while we are gone for a month in another 9 days. :-( Taking food pics is more even more challenging with her occupying my sunlit window most of the day but I now manage to click in few seconds before she can jump in! :-D 

Djibouti's Kashata Za Nazi | Sweet Coconut Squares

Kashatas lasted on my kitchen counter for two days and  I had started my day with a piece of this coconut sweet! :-) Yum!


I would love to hear from you. If you have made this recipe then do leave a comment below. If you like this recipe then do share the recipe link on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Follow me on Instagram and mention @butfirstchaai or tag #butfirstchai so that I can see your creations!