Here’s a quick and easy Mandazi recipe (soft & yummy).
We make East African doughnuts with coconut milk and cardamom.
Serve them with masala tea for a delicious breakfast.
This recipe for Mandazi is…
- Egg free
- Yeast free
- Easy to make
- Very soft and pillowy!
What are Mandazi?
Mandazi are a type of fried bread from the Swahili Coast of East Africa.
We make them with a dough of flour, coconut milk and sugar.
Cardamom is the most common addition, but cinnamon or nutmeg are also welcome spices. Aren’t they always?
To prepare Kenyan doughnuts, or Mandazi we deep-fry them until golden brown.
They taste amazing hot, or at room temperature.
There really is nothing like freshly-fried warm Mandazi dusted with sugar for breakfast.
A cup of masala chai is the perfect partner to soothe the soul.
What do Mandazi taste like?
If you’re a fan of beignets, you’ll love Mandazi.
Cardamom-laced Mandazi are often paired with a mug of milky spiced chai, which became a staple East African dish, as Indians came to work and trade in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania under British colonial rule.
Unlike sugary Western-style doughnuts, mandazi are subtly sweet.
This makes them more versatile, as they can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack, or even as a side dish.
Indeed, they’re often used to sop up savoury stews, such as pigeon peas cooked in coconut milk.
Leftover mandazi can be heated up and served with dinner.
Indians in East Africa
Indian communities took root mainly from the mid-1890s, but the history of Indians in East Africa dates back centuries, long before the arrival of the British.
For example, Indian merchants had established themselves in small numbers along the Swahili coastline, and there had been longstanding trading connections between the two regions.
The cardamom in mandazi is a nod to the other South Asian and Middle Eastern influences on East African cuisine, which came about as a result of centuries of maritime trade.
History of Mandazi
The exact origins of mandazi are unknown, but various styles of fried bread are popular across East Africa.
Some say the concept of leavened bread was introduced by the Portuguese, and the spices by Arab and South Asian traders.
Mandazi are treasured everywhere from Kenya and Tanzania, to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
How to Make Mandazi
Making Mandazi is a simple process.
We prepare the dough by mixing together self-raising flour, coconut milk, sugar, salt and ground cardamom seeds.
Work the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
Next, rest it for at least 20 minutes before rolling it into a circle.
We then cut the circle into small triangles or squares.
Finally, we deep fry the mandazi in very hot oil until golden brown.
Dust with icing sugar or serve them plain. I can’t resist a flurry of icing sugar on top!
What is the difference between mandazi and mahamri?
Mahamri and Mandazi are terms we often use interchangeably.
Some say that these are the differences between the two…
Mandazi are made with a baking powder, baking soda or a self-raising flour.
Coconut milk and cardamom may or may not be used.
Mahamri are made with a yeast dough.
Again, they may or may not contain coconut milk or cardamom, but usually do.
Other popular East African snacks to enjoy with tea
In addition to mandazi, there are many other popular East African snacks. Some of these include:
- Chapati: Chapati are flatbreads that are made with whole wheat flour. They are often served with curry or stew.
- Samosas: Samosas are pastries that are filled with potatoes, onions, and spices. They are then deep-fried.
- Mogo chips: Fried cassava chips served plain, with chilli, lemon and salt, or with chutney.
Where to find Mandazi
Mandazi can be found in many East African restaurants and cafes.
They can also be found at street stalls and markets.
Although, if you are not able to find mandazi in your area, you can try making them at home.
This is my favourite!
How to enjoy Mandazi
Mandazi are a delicious and versatile snack that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Here are a few simple ideas:
- Plain: Mandazi are delicious on their own, with a slightly crispy exterior and a soft, fluffy interior.
- With toppings: Mandazi can be topped with a variety of things, such as honey, jam, or chocolate sauce.
- Alongside tea or coffee: Mandazi and masala chai are an amazing combination. Especially if you like dunking.
- With Mbaazi za nazi: A stew of pigeon peas in coconut milk. This is a popular breakfast item along the Swahili coast.
Ingredients for Mandazi
- Self-raising flour – I like to use pre-mixed self-raising flour since it contains all the leavening agents required. If you cannot find it, you can always make your own using an online guide
- Coconut milk – full fat is required for making soft mandazi. Don’t use low fat
- Sugar – white granulated sugar or caster sugar
- Cardamom – green cardamom, seeds only. Crush them in a pestle and mortar.
- Salt – fine salt
- Oil – any flavourless cooking oil that’s suitable for deep frying
How to make Mandazi with step-by-step instructions
1. Make the dough
Mix together the dry ingredients and then add the coconut milk. Bind to form a smooth dough, about 5 minutes.
Do not over knead the dough.
Next, cover the dough and rest for 20-30 minutes.
2. Roll and cut the mandazi
Divide the dough out into two or three equal pieces depending on the size you are making.
Roll the dough out on a floured surface, about 1/2 cm thick.
Cut the dough into four equal pieces.
Repeat for the remaining dough.
3. Fry the mandazi
Next, heat the oil to 215C, or until almost smoking hot.
Carefully fry the mandazi in small batches, agitating them using a perforated spoon.
Carefully pour small amounts of oil over the top using the spoon to encourage them to rise.
Watch the video for more details on this technique.
Each Mandazi will take around 30 seconds to cook.
Remove from the oil and place onto absorbent kitchen towel in inside a colander with a plate underneath to catch drips.
4. Dust with icing sugar and serve
Finally, dust the Mandazi with icing sugar (optional) and serve hot with tea or coconut bean stew (mbaazi za nazi).
How to store Mandazi
Like most doughnuts, Mandazi are best eaten the same day.
However, you can store leftover Mandazi in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. They will keep for 2 days.
How to reheat Mandazi?
Reheat mandazi in the oven or air fryer. Preheat the oven or air fryer at 200C/400F and warm for 2-3 minutes.
Can I freeze Mandazi?
Yes, you can freeze Mandazi. Fry them and and allow to cool before packing into a freezer-safe container or airtight freezer bag.
Cook from frozen in the oven or air fryer.
Preheat the oven or air fryer at 200C/400F and warm for 6-7 minutes.
Are Mandazi vegan?
Yes, these Mandazi are 100% suitable for vegans.
Are Mandazi gluten free?
No, since they contain wheat flour, this recipe for mandazi is not suitable for anyone following a gluten free diet.
Can I air fry Mandazi?
I haven’t had much success with air frying Mandazi.
They do not usually rise and remain thick and stodgy. I do not recommend it.
However, if you have tips on this, please leave a comment below!
Mandazi recipe | soft & fluffy | mandazi recipe without eggs
- 275g self raising flour
- 3 tbsp sugar (white granulated or caster)
- 165ml full-fat coconut milk (room temperature)
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Oil for deep frying
- Additional flour, for rolling
- Icing sugar for dusting (optional)
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt.
- Add the coconut milk and bind together. Knead for 5 minutes until soft and smooth. Do not over knead the dough. Cover with a thin layer of oil and wrap in cling film. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
- Dust a clean work surface with flour. Divide the dough into two equal portions and form into two balls.
- Take the first ball and roll out until its around 1/2 cm thick. Cut the dough in half, and then into quarters, so that you have four equal pieces. Set aside onto a tray.
- Repeat for the other portion of dough.
- Heat the oil in a pan suitable for deep frying. Once the oil reaches 215C, or is almost smoking hot, you can carefully place the mandazi dough in. Fry in small batches. Agitate the mandazi with a perforated spoon to encourage it to rise. If you pour the hot oil on top, this will help them puff up. Turn and cook both sides until golden brown. Note: If the Mandazi do not puff up, it's probably because the oil is not hot enough.
- Drain on absorbent kitchen towel. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
How to store Mandazi: Like most doughnuts, Mandazi are best eaten the same day. However, you can store leftover Mandazi in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. They will keep for 2 days.
How to reheat: Reheat Mandazi in the oven or air fryer. Preheat the oven or air fryer at 200C/400F and warm for 2-3 minutes.
To freeze Mandazi: You can freeze Mandazi. Fry them and and allow to cool before packing into a freezer-safe container or airtight freezer bag. Cook from frozen in the oven or air fryer. Preheat the oven or air fryer at 200C/400F and warm for 6-7 minutes.
Can I air fry Mandazi?: I haven't had much success with air frying Mandazi. They do not usually rise and remain thick and stodgy. I do not recommend it.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 311Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 486mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 1gSugar: 19gProtein: 5g
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