Abdalla Hamisi's Barbecue Sauce

In 2006 we were on one of our trips to Kenya as tour guides and we stayed in private cottages run by friends, down by Diani beach, Mombasa. The place was heavenly, we had private access to the beach (Indian Ocean) and the place was very secluded with no tourists. Each night a big fire was lit on the beach and you could even take a stroll underneath the stars, with the white sand beneath your toes... if you felt like it. We didn't even have to lock our front door at night (which is unusual in these places). Each morning and afternoon we got to choose what we fancied for dinner. The chef walked around and asked the few guests that were staying there what they would like and he prepared it. Since we knew that we were going fishing that day, we told the chef, Abdalla Hamisi that we were going to bring the catch of the day and if he would be so kind as to prepare it for us we would be most grateful. Out to sea we went and we brought home a Kingfish. Abdalla prepared the fish for barbecuing and for a large portion of the evening he pottered around in the kitchen. He even made this gorgeous barbecue sauce which suited the fish perfectly. Nothing is ever out of a can in Africa, the wonderful chefs always prepare everything from start, which is why dinner can take a long time, much longer to prepare than we are used to back home. "Pole Pole" they say when you ask when the dinner will be ready ("Slowly, Slowly/Easy Now"). Anyway, we ate the delicious dinner by candlelight, served with Abdalla's fantastic barbecue sauce, underneath the African sky, glittering with stars. I asked Abdalla if I could have the recipe for the sauce and here it is, it's his own creation.

Just one thing... I prefer to chop the ingredients finely by hand, rather than use a food processor. The African chefs chop everything by hand and I believe that suits the ingredients best, however if you have difficulty chopping, place the ingredients in the food processor and pulse a couple of times (do not over blend).

You will find smoked paprika in most larger supermarkets or delicatassens.

An excellent barbecue sauce I first tasted in Kenya

This recipe is:

  • Egg free
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose (dairy) free
  • Nut free
  • Vegan

Abdalla Hamisi's Barbecue Sauce

Serves 5-6 people as a side dish


  • 1 onion, chopped very finely
  • 1 pepper (red), chopped finely
  • 3 tomatoes, very ripe, chopped finely
  • 1 chili pepper (green), chop very finely
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped very finely
  • A small piece fresh ginger (similar to a grape in size), chopped finely
  • 250-500 millilitres (8¾-17 fluid oz) water (depending on how thick you want the sauce to be)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet)
  • 1 yeast free and gluten free vegetable stock cube
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons mango chutney (home made or from a health food store)
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt (Himalaya or sea salt)


  1. Peel the onion and chop finely.
  2. Trim the pepper, slice in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and membranes and chop finely.
  3. Chop the 3 tomatoes finely.
  4. Cut the chili pepper in half, scoop out the seeds and membranes and chop very finely. You might want to use plastic gloves if you have sensitive skin.
  5. Peel the 3-4 garlic cloves and chop very finely.
  6. Peel the 2 grams ginger (the skin is very thin, you can scrape it off with a teaspoon or a small knife). Chop very finely.
  7. Place the onion, pepper, tomatoes, chili pepper, garlic cloves and ginger in a small saucepan.
  8. Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan: 250-500 millilitres water (start with 250 millilitres (8¾ fluid oz) and add more if the sauce is too thick), 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 yeast free vegetable stock cube, 3 tablespoons agave nectar, 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 2 tablespoons mango chutney, 3 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon curry powder and ½ teaspoon salt (Himalaya or sea salt).
  9. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened and some of the liquid has evaporated. The sauce should not be runny but chunky and fairly thick like chutney.
  10. Remove the saucepan from the heat and chill completely.


  • This is an excellent sauce to marinate fish or vegetables in and is also a lovely side dish with grilled vegetables, fish or meat, whatever you prefer.
  • You can use regular stock cubes instead of yeast free and gluten free ones.
  • I make my own mango chutney, however you can buy organic mango chutney from a health food store.
  • You can use a food processor to chop up the ingredients although I do prefer to chop them by hand. That is they way they do it in Kenya!
  • You can use maple syrup or acacia honey instead of the agave nectar.