These light and fluffy East African donuts - called Mandazi (or Mahambri) - are addictive pillows of joy and we grew up devouring them!
Mandazi's are typically eaten for breakfast alongside a traditional dish called Bharazi (pigeon peas in coconut sauce). The slightly sweet Mandazi's combined with the savouriness of Bharazi is wonderful.
However, our favourite way to eat Mandazi is with a cup of tea or just on their own when they are warm.
My recipe is a quick and easy one, and it's vegan too! In Tanzania and Kenya, they use more traditional methods, like extracting pure coconut milk from freshly grated young coconuts and kneading the dough by hand. But for the sake of simplicity and in the absence of traditional tools, I use tinned coconut milk and an electric mixer.
This recipe yields 18 Mandazi's.
Ingredients: 1 cup plain white flour 3 tbsps caster sugar 1.5 tsp ground cardamom 1.5 tsp instant yeast 1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
Half a cup of warm coconut milk
Additional white flour for rolling the dough (a few tbsps approx)
Additional oil for deep frying
Put the first 5 ingredients into an electric mixer and blend ingredients together well. Stop the mixer and scrape the ingredients from the sides every now and then and until a good crumb forms.
Then slowly add the warm coconut milk (you might not need it all) a bit at a time. As you add more coconut milk, the dough will begin to bind. Continue until the dough has formed - it should be very slightly sticky and stretchy.
Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a round ball with the help of a little flour. The dough should feel very slightly damp but not sticky at this stage. Mix in a little flour if it is sticky. You want a smooth round ball.
Place the dough in a glass bowl that is big enough to allow it to double in size. Cover and leave to rise for a few hours in a warm place. The time it takes to rise will depend on your kitchen temperature.
Once it has risen, remove the dough from the bowl, roll it into a log shape and cut 3 equal size pieces. Roll each piece into a a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a circle, about half a centimetre thick. Cut each circle into 6 triangles and set aside on a lightly floured surface. You should have 18 triangles at this stage.
Cover all the triangles with a tea towel and leave for 30 mins. This will allow them to prove further.
After 30 mins, heat a deep sided frying pan with enough oil to fry the Mandazi's.
Gently drop the triangles into the oil, in batches (around 3-4 at a time depending on your pan size) and fry on a medium high heat. When the top side has puffed up, flip them over so they cook on the other side. As soon as they are a golden brown colour, take them out and drain on kitchen paper.
Important note: when you drop the triangles in the oil, they should rise to the top. As soon as they come to the top, spoon some of the hot oil from the pan onto each one to allow it to puff up. This helps to create the hollowness inside and allows them to become fluffy.
Best served warm.
They are delicious eaten when freshly made but will keep well for a few days in an airtight container. They do also freeze perfectly well - just make sure you warm them through so they are nice and fluffy.
Some pictures of young coconuts being grated using traditional methods at our home in Tanzania