Mandazi, also called maandazi, n’dao, maandaazi, mahamri or mamri is a type of sweet fried bread from East Africa, especially popular in Tanzania and Kenya. They are often referred to as 'African donuts,' though they definitely have their own distinct elements. Mandazi is the word for a fried dough in the Kiswahili language, a Bantu language originally from Tanzania that has mixed with other African languages and Arabic.
A street vendor in Kenya making mandazi. Image by Foodieske
Mandazi originated more than 4 centuries ago in the small villages of East Africa where there was no bread available to residents for breakfast. As a result, the residents of these small villages had to find a solution and began to create and combine their own recipes for fried buns based on easy-to-obtain ingredients, such as cardamom, flour, vanilla, and coconut. Many women used to prepare piles of mandazi and would sell them for breakfast. As times changed and it became easier for the villagers to get a variety of breads for breakfasts, the love and importance of these fried buns remained intact and many local bakeries continue to sell mandazi. Mandazi can be eaten as an accompaniment to many dishes. They are usually prepared in the early morning for breakfast and then reheated in the evening for dinner. Ingredients traditionally used to prepare mandazi include flour, egg, sugar, spices, and coconut milk. Other ingredients, such as peanuts and ground almonds can also be used to give them a different flavour.
You're definitely going to want to give these sweet treats a try! We've slightly adapted this great recipe from 196 Flavours. This is a fairly easy recipe and only takes 50 minutes from start to finish. So grab your apron, pop the oven on and let's get baking!
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 egg , lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, ginger and cinnamon blend
- ½ teaspoon chili powder (optional)
- Vegetable oil
- Sugar (or icing sugar), to dust
- Mix the yeast with 4 tablespoons of warm water (about 33 degrees) and wait for 5 minutes.
- Combine beaten egg, coconut milk, butter and sugar and beat well.
- Mix the flour, chilli powder and spices in a large bowl
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast and water mixture
- Gradually add the coconut milk, butter, egg and sugar.
- Finally, add the rest of the warm water gradually until reaching a smooth and elastic dough
- Once the ingredients are well mixed and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, knead for about 10 minutes
- Put the dough in a large container, cover and let rest and rise for 45 minutes in a warm place
- Divide the dough into equal parts, and, using a rolling pin, flatten the balls to a ½ inch thickness
- Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into triangles
- Place the mandazi on a floured surface
- Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat and fry the mandazi until golden brown
- Remove and place on paper towels or a metal colander to remove excess oil
- Sprinkle with sugar or icing sugar or eat as is. Enjoy!
Header image via 196 Flavours