Kenyan doughnuts
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Scrumptious Kenyan Doughnuts – Mandazi

My Kenyan doughnuts are crispy from the outside and soft inside. Spiced with cardamom and fennel, and served with a chocolate coconut sauce.

I remember the first time I made Kenyan doughnuts for my kids. They fell instantly in love. They are quite different from the Canadian or American ones. The East African ones called Mandazi or Mahamri, are generally crisp from the outside and soft and fluffy from the inside. They are not too sweet and have spices and coconut milk incorporated into them.

The ingredients

Take some flour, some milk, some yeast, and a couple of spices. What do you get? A delicious dessert or snack.

Ingredients
Ingredients

The Ingredients list

  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom 
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
  • Oil for frying

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The Dough

This is a typical yeast dough, so we need to let the yeast bloom before we do anything else. Let us start with heating the milk to about 110 degrees F. Add the yeast and sugar into the milk and mix it all together. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the yeast blooms.

I like to use coconut sugar, but you can use regular white sugar. I find using coconut sugar gives it that extra flavour. It also gives the dough a slightly golden brown colour. I also find that coconut sugar is less sweet and so the mandazi are not as sweet as they would be with regular sugar.

Yeast ready to bloom
Yeast ready to bloom

While the yeast is blooming, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt, cardamom, and fennel (if using). Once the yeast has bloomed, add the liquid to the dry ingredients. Add the coconut milk at the same time and mix everything together to form a dough. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes and cover it with a damp cloth and allow it to sit and rise for about one hour or so.

What is Coconut Sugar?

Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the palm flower. It is less sweet than sugar and has a slightly caramelly flavour to it. It’s quite similar to brown sugar. Coconut sugar is used in dessert recipes in various Asian countries where coconut or palm trees are commonplace. I use it in my pancake recipes, cookie recipes, and replace white sugar with coconut sugar whenever any recipe calls for a little sugar to take off the edge.

Kenyan doughnuts - mandazi

The Final Product

Now that our dough has risen, we can make our dessert. Punch out the air from the dough and cut the dough into two equal parts. Roll out each of the pieces into about 1/4 inch thick circular discs. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into triangular pieces. Alternatively, you can roll out each piece into the desired shape and size.

The shape is arbitrary. Generally, in Kenya, these are made on a mass scale and it’s easier to just roll and cut the dough into triangles. But, when I’m not in a rush and want to please the kids, I use a cookie cutter. The kids enjoy making shapes out of them like one would cookies.

In a large deep pan or a wok, add enough oil so the dough has room to move around. Heat the oil to about 325 degrees F. Fry the dough on one side until it is golden brown and then flip it over and fry the other side till both sides are golden brown. Do not over crowd the oil or it will go cold quickly and the dough will absorb the oil.

Kenyan doughnuts - Mandazi
Kenyan doughnuts

The Coconut Chocolate Sauce

Enjoy the fresh made Kenyan style mahamri with a side of my chocolate sauce. Replace the half and half in the chocolate sauce recipe with coconut milk. This coconut chocolate dipping sauce is a perfect accompaniment to the snack.

Scrumptious Kenyan Doughnuts – Mandazi

Course: Dessert, SnackCuisine: Kenyan, East AfricanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

20

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes
Calories

94

kcal
Rising time

60

minutes
Total time

1

hour 

25

minutes

My Kenyan doughnuts are crispy from the outside and soft inside. Spiced with cardamom and fennel, and served with a chocolate coconut sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons yeast

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 3 cups flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom¬†

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

  • Oil for frying

Directions

  • Warm the milk to 110 degrees F.
  • Add the yeast and sugar to the milk and mix well. Let sit for about 5-7 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, cardamom, and fennel seeds (if using).
  • Once the yeast has bloomed, add the yeast liquid to the dry ingredients.
  • Add the coconut milk to the bowl at the same time.
  • Mix together to form a dough. Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes, cover with a damp cloth and set aside for about one hour.
  • In a large deep pan or wok, heat the cooking oil to 325 degrees F.
  • Punch down the dough and divide it into two equal parts. Roll the dough into 1/2 inch discs and using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 8 pieces.
  • Deep fry the dough until golden brown on one side, then flip it over and fry till both sides are golden brown.
  • Enjoy with a side of coconut chocolate sauce or just as is with a cup of coffee.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my mandazi hard?

Generally, if the yeast did not have enough time to bloom before being added to the flour, or if the dough is too tough, the mandazi will be hard. Try to ensure that the yeast blooms and doubles in size before adding to the flour. Also, ensure you do not add more flour to the dough as you knead.

Is mandazi a pastry?

Pastry is generally baked, however, mandazi is delicious fried dough. Mandazi is crispy from the outside and soft from the inside.

Are mandazi similar to beignet?

Beignet are soft and luscious. Mandazi are denser, with a consistency similar to cake. These are also less sweet than beignet and are served with chai (Kenyan style tea).


Check out other dessert recipes here.

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