Mandazi (or Mahamri)

Mandazi, also known as the Swahili doughnut, originates from the coastal region and is also a main bread for the Swahilis who live near the African Great Lakes (Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika). Also known as mahamri when made with coconut milk, it is a favourite snack and staple breakfast bread for all Kenyans.

Walk down any Kenyan street and you will find a vendor selling it. I made mahamri for the charities Find Your Feet and Curry for Change at their recent fundraising event ‘An Evening of Flavour’, and it was an instant hit.


Makes 16

  • 450g/1lb/scant 3½ cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp fast-action/instant yeast
  • 7 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp ghee or butter
  • 240ml/8fl oz/1 cup coconut cream
  • Sunflower oil, for deep-frying

To serve (optional)

Icing/confectioners’ sugar and/or ground cinnamon, for dusting


1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, add the butter and mix, then slowly add the coconut cream and knead into a dough.

2. Leave the dough for 3–4 hours in a warm place (or leave overnight if you can) until just about doubled in size.

3. Divide the dough into 8 balls and roll each into a circle about 15cm/6in in diameter. Cut each circle into quarters.

4. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and, once hot, drop in the triangles one at a time, without overfilling the pan. The oil should be hot before frying otherwise the mandazi/mahamri won’t puff up. (You can do a test by dropping a little of the dough into the oil; it should immediately sizzle and float to the surface, and be golden brown within a minute.)

5. Cook for about 2 minutes, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Drain and leave to cool. 

6. Sprinkle with icing sugar or ground cinnamon if serving as a dessert. Alternatively, you can serve the breads with Coconut and Mango Chutney and Kenyan Masala Chai.


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