Mandazi is so versatile it can play a part in any meal; its origin is that of a Kenyan dish and can also be known as Mhamri. It is a simple dough that is deep fried until puffy and light. It’s slightly sweet, which makes it popular to have as a breakfast dish with cream, or jam and butter. I know most curries are saucy but mandazi pairs really well with the saucier ones. I love making them with kuku paka (coconut chicken curry) or keema saak (minced lamb curry).
They are often made into small triangular pieces that can be eaten in a few bites. This doesn’t help me as if they are in the house, I tend to find myself snacking on these sweet treats more than anything – carb overload!
When growing up my Nanima made the best mandazi, she still does! I haven’t found anyone to knock her off the chart to be honest. I welcome entries!
There are a few foods that my Nanima treats us to, so every few visits we get to come back with a big bucket which literally would keep us going for the week. The impact that mandazi had on my childhood inspired me to make my own and give me the want to pass down this feeling of family togetherness.
This is a treat that needs time, patience, and love to get it right. It’s taken me a while to get it to my standard, but that’s the same with anything. For me, I want to be able to make mandazi anywhere at any time so knowing how to get the temperature of the oil right in any pan on any hob is the trick to master.
I have never really been much of a baker until the pandemic started. For those of us at home, I guess we had more time on our hands and wanted to gain something out of it.
Both the boys catch on to that sweet smell when it’s all going on in the kitchen. I often have their faces pressed up to the window of the kitchen door sweet talking me into giving them the first try. Well, the second and the third. It’s now a thing when my kids go to their Great Nanni’s and Uncles that they look forward to taking away a bucket of mandazi. I’ve learnt that I can’t get away with just making a small batch anymore.
I said before that it’s a simple dough but it’s not simple to perfect. When made with yeast the dough can take on a richer flavour that allows it to accompany some savoury dishes. The basic dough for mandazi is made from flour, eggs, milk and sugar, a pinch of cardamom powder and baking powder which can be used if you’re not using yeast. The dough needs to be allowed to rest or to rise if yeast is used.
This makes enough for a family of 4 with a few left over …
- 1 cup of self-raising flour
- 1 cup of plain flour
- 1 small egg
- ¼ spoon of elchi (cardamom)
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup of sugar – this can be altered depending on your taste
- 1 packet of yeast
- 1 tin of coconut milk warmed
Mix all of the dry ingredients together then slowly add the coconut milk in, keep kneading and stop when you’ve made a smooth dough, leave to rise until the size has doubled.
Once the dough is ready it can be divided into small spheres and cut into 4 to make the triangle, cover them with a light cloth and leave them to rise again for 30 minutes, then they’ll be ready to fry.
Use an oil with a neutral flavour, I usually deep fry in sunflower or rapeseed oil. It took me a while to get the temperature right, it can’t be too hot otherwise it cooks the outside too quickly as the inside will be too doughy, but it can’t be cooked too slow either as they will end up soggy and oily. There isn’t really an instruction manual on how to judge this, which is why you can’t give up. You’ll get there!
Once they have been fried they can be drained and left to cool.
I hope I’ve inspired you to make these delicious treats, I’ll look forward to hearing your outcomes 😊
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