In Africa, there are all kinds of street food, most notable the undeniable popular street food puff-puff in West African, featured here. On the other side of the spectrum, in East Africa, in countries like Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania you have the addictive Mandazi (also known as Maandazi or Ndao and sometimes called Mahamri or Mamri).
I grew up eating puff-puff, and then later, I was introduced to Mandazi – which is similar to puff-puff …I was hooked. There is a certain complexity in Mandazi that clearly sets it apart from its counter part.
Mandazi is a nice way to introduce you to the joys of East African street food, a spicy, airy yeast doughnut dough made with coconut milk, flavored with cardamom and grated fresh coconut or coconut flakes. It can be made with yeast or baking powder. I love the depth of flavor that yeast adds to dough and my first choice is yeast; unless you need a quick fix-then replace the yeast with baking powder and let it rest for 10 minutes before frying.
These fried dough are not meant to be sweet, like doughnuts – slightly sweet would best describe its sweet level. It is best to use freshly ground cardamom for this recipe -you get a hint of crushed seeds as you bite into the dough- an enjoyable experience.
(An electric coffee grinder does a great job with minimal effort to crush the seeds or you can use mortar and pestle, which requires more energy).
When making the dough, stop at 3 1/2 cup, if dough is still sticky, knead in the remaining flour a bit at a time until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Keep in mind, that, on any given day and depending on the protein content of the flour you are using, you will need more or less flour depending upon the humidity and temperature in the flour and air.
Mandazi is best served fresh out of the frying pan with chai or as a snack .It gets really tough and stringy after a while.
By the way, I am SO torn between my childhood snack: puff- puff and this new favorite of mine- Mandazi. Someone help.
If you are looking for a really SOFT MANDAZI click here to take to you this Mini Soft Mandazi
- ¼ cup warm water
- 2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- ½ cup canned coconut milk
- 1 large egg
- ¼ - ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all purpose flour plus ¼ more
- 3 tablespoons of freshly ground coconut or coconut flakes
- 1 teaspoon crushed cardamom spice
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg or cinnamon
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
- In a large bowl add the warm water, coconut milk, salt , sugar and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes.Followed by eggs.
- Then add 3 cups flour, cardamom, nutmeg, grated coconut and mix by hands or in a stand mixer.
- Turn dough on a lightly floured surface, knead dough until all the ingredients have been fully incorporated and the dough is not too sticky, when touched, gradually adding more flour if you need be, err on the side of less flour than more flour, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat.
- Cover loosely with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled.
- Punch the dough down, divide into 4 equal pieces, then form balls and roll out each piece into 6 triangular pieces. Let it rest for about 15 minutes.
- In a large, sauce pan pour vegetable oil, until it is at least 3 inches (or about 5 centimeters) high (too little will result in flatter mandazi and place on medium heat until oil is 375 degrees.
- Gentle drop the mandazi into the oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. Do so in batches.
- Fry for a few minutes until the bottom side is golden brown, quickly turn the mandazi over and fry for a few more minutes until the other side is golden brown.
- Use a large spoon or something like that to take it out of the oil. I usually place them on napkins right away to soak up some of the excess oil.
- If desired, you can sprinkle with powdered sugar to make it sweeter
If you like a less guilt Mandazi try this one here