Mandazi, Mahamri…fried dough

As much as I love my oatmeal or granola in the morning, there are times when all I want is a mandazi to go with my coffee.  Mandazi is basically fried dough and who can resist fried dough? Especially if that fried dough has sugar! Americans have their donuts and East Africans have their Mandazi.  Donuts (Doughnuts…whatever) are typically sweeter and Mandazi usually have dry spices added to the flour – although I have noticed that in Nairobi, the spices are omitted.  In the Coastal regions where Mandazi have been perfected, they remain true to the original recipe and they also add Coconut milk which makes them Mahamri.  That’s the version I’m going to make.

Typically, Mandazi are served with Chai (black tea with lots of milk, sugar and masala)  in the morning because that’s what Kenyans drink over here (we were colonized by the Brits who started this tea-drinking habit among other things… and don’t get me started on our nations evidence of the Stockholm Syndrome)  Ok, I hear you, FOCUS on the Mandazi!

We love our Mandazi so much that these fried delicious doughs are even sold as street food and every cook worth their salt can make these fried morsels of goodness.  Fried and goodness in one sentence, somebody call Paula Deen!   I’m definitely in serious Mandazi withdrawal.   I enjoy mine in a brown paper bag, so that I don’t see how many I’m actually eating.  These are great with hot piping coffee.  But you should try Mandazi with tea.  If you are a serious tea drinker you must try Kenyan black tea because it is some of the best in the WORLD. It’s so good that Kenya is one of the top 4 producers and exporters of tea in our dimension. In fact, most black teas in the market are blended using Kenyan tea as it has been proven to have the highest level of anti-oxidants!

So make  some Mandazi today and make some chai to go with it…trust me, that experience is worth the trouble of finding black loose tea, simmering it with milk (soy milk works best, just don’t get the heat up too high or it might break/curdle) on the saucepan, and adding a pinch of tea masala.

Ok, so forgive me for not having all the pictures…something very odd happened when I downloaded my pictures from the camera to the computer.  I’m still trying to figure out who I pissed off.  That could be the only explanation as to how I have only 3 pictures out of a gazillion that I took to document this process.  Mmmhh, I’m going to consult my spell book tonight and see whether …ok let me stop joking about things I know nothing about.  Let’s get to the Mandazi

Combine your wet and dry ingredients into a bowl or stand mixer and knead for 10-20 minutes. Your dough should be smooth and elastic. Cover bowl, set in a warm area and wait for it to rise.

 This is after the hour rising.  I’ve turned over the dough onto a lightly floured surface. See those black specs?  Cardamom seeds.  I love them but they are a quite pungent for most people.  Omit them if you must, but sub in the ground version.  Get your rolling pin and roll out the dough, about half an inch thickness, cut into pieces and fry ‘dem babies!

This is how they look after they are all fried up. I used a round 2″ biscuit cutter because I couldn’t be bothered to make other shapes (triangles are the most authentic)!  And just because they remind me so much of Cafe Du Monde beignets, I decided to dust them with powdered sugar.  Of  course if these were real beignets, we would have drowned them in powdered sugar.  You can have them plain though or if you are feeling very naughty, melt some chocolate to dunk them in…at that point they wouldn’t be Kenyan Mandazi though so just stick to the recipe!

A couple of notes:

  • If you don’t like using yeast, substitute with 2 tsp baking powder and add it to the dry ingredients and after kneading, just let the dough rest for about 10 minutes (no need to “rise”)
  • Substitute cardamom seeds for 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • Experiment with other ground spices but keep total measurement to 1 tsp – try ginger, cinnamon etc
  • Sugar can be increased or decreased according to taste or omitted completely!
  • Instead of vegetable oil, you can also use melted, cooled vegan butter/margarine
  • Don’t be too hung up on the serving size…Mandazi don’t have a perfect serving size because it depends on the person making them – I’ve seen some as big as a side plate and completely hollow on the inside.  Go figure!

So there you have it, go forth and fry!

Recipe for:  Mandazi or Mahamri

Servings: 20 pcs or so…

Ingredients Directions
  • 1 Tsp Dry Yeast
  • 4 Cups AP Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp cardamom seed
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Milk
  • 2 Cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  1. Mix the yeast with a few teaspoonfuls of the warm water and set aside.
  2. Dry stuff: In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cardamom seed, salt and then toss in the yeast mixture.
  3. Wet stuff: In a small mixing bowl, combine water, oil and coconut milk
  4. Gradually add the wet mixture to dry while kneading into a dough.  Knead until a smooth and elastic dough is formed, about 20 minutes total
  5. Place dough in a clean bowl, cover with a kitchen cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for an hour or more. Toward the end of your rising time, heat a few cups of vegetable oil to about 300F in a fryer or deep skillet.
  6. Once risen, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll your dough out to a circle about one-half inch thick.  Cut into circles, triangles or whatever shape you like.
  7. Fry your mandazi a few at a time, turning once or twice until golden brown all over. Drain on paper towels and devour when cool to the touch.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Stef says:

    Love this line ” I enjoy mine in a brown paper bag, so that I don’t see how many I’m actually eating.” I totally get that!

    1. caughteating says:

      Thank you Stef! Sometimes we gotta walk on the wild side and eat without seeing the damage:-)

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