Mandazi (African Donuts)
Mandazi (also known as maandazi or ndao and sometimes mahamri or mamri) is a slightly sweet, famous snack that you can get on the roadside in most East African countries, as well as in local cafés and bakeries.
In Kenya, mandazi can be found pretty much everywhere from village markets to inner cities where they are sold by street vendors. One piece is sold for 5 shillings, equivalent to a nickel, and mandazis are often eaten by children on their way to school.
These triangular fried pastries are typically served for breakfast with a cup of tea. They are lightly flavored with ground cardamom and get their richness from the coconut milk used to bind the dough. Though they originated along the Swahili Coast, they are now available throughout the country. I prefer them hot, but they’re also wonderful cold.
This mandazi recipe will get you jumping for joy the moment you are done. You can adapt the recipe to your taste; try freshly ground cardamom seeds or cinnamon instead for an even stronger taste. If you don’t like your snacks too sweet, half the amount of sugar.
Also make sure not to overcrowd the pan as this will prevent the dough cooking properly.
However, let’s start with the basics. The first step for this recipe is to activate the yeast. Place the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Stir to combine and (this is optional) add a pinch of sugar to the mixture, which helps the yeast start metabolizing. After preparing the yeast, mix together the dry ingredients and add them to the yeast mixture.
Next step will be to prepare the dough, note you don’t want the dough to be too sticky so you can also add a little more flour if needed.
Next, on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough with both hands until smooth and elastic. Knead for about 10 to 15 minutes, coating hands with oil or flour to work into the dough to prevent sticking.
Allow the dough to rise in a warm environment for an hour after kneading. Divide the dough into four equal sections when it has risen and doubled in size.
Begin by flattening one piece with a rolling pin and shaping it into a tiny round. Repeat with the remaining dough halves, cutting the circle into six triangles. After this you may proceed to fry in a preheated deep-frying oil.
Mandazi (African Donuts)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cardamon
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- ½ cup water
- 1 egg
- oil for frying
- Place lukewarm water in a bowl then add the yeast to it. Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Add sugar, egg, milk and stir well. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, cinnamon, cardamom and salt then stir to form a dough, that comes together and is easily handled.
- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until it is soft and smooth.
- Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
- Flour a board then form dough into a board and place on it. Roll out into a rectangle that is ¼ inch thick. Cut the rolled out dough into squares then cut the squares across into triangles.
- Let the cut-out dough rest for 20 minutes.
- Heat the oil for frying in a deep skillet over medium-high heat.
- Flatten each triangle dough with your hands and gently place into the hot oil.
- Fry the mandazi for about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess oil.
- Serve warm. Enjoy!
For more local treats, check out our story on the most popular Kenyan desserts and sweets.