Mandazi is a popular East African street food that are triangle-shaped fried donuts best served with tea or coffee for breakfast or brunch. The addition of cardamom and coconut milk sets this apart from the regular doughnuts. I have included coffee glaze but you can serve them with a dust of icing sugar or jam for a sweet snack.
This post was originally shared as part of the MENA Cooking Club. The club is no longer active. The challenge was to cook a dish from The Comoro Islands and incorporate the Secret Ingredient – Coffee.
I think everyone loves some fried bread or doughnuts! Not to forget the universal Samosas that can be filled with anything you love to eat. Similarly, these African donuts are light, fluffy and so yummy, I bet you cannot stop with a few.
It was not tough to find Comoros-specific recipes but I was looking for a more reliable resource and a recipe where the coffee flavour would complement or enhance the dish. I wanted to try the popular flatbread - Mkatra Couscouma or also known as Mardouf which is served with ground meat sauce.
But just when I decided to prepare the flatbread and serve it with some coffee-flavoured Nutella, I stumbled upon the recipe for Mandazi and Banana Puffs Puffs! The puff puff recipe is very close to the one we make at home so I finalised on Mandazi. Comoros is listed as one of the East African Countries.
Mandazi is made from a mixture of flour, sugar, yeast, and coconut milk or water and kneaded together to form a dough. The dough is then cut into small pieces, rolled into balls, and fried until golden brown.
- all-purpose flour / plain flour / maida
- cardamom powder
- instant yeast
- coconut milk
- oil to fry
See the recipe card for quantities.
- prepare the dough and let it rise
- divide the dough and rest them covered
- roll each dough ball and cut them into triangles
- deep fry mandazi in batches
- serve immediately
- coconut milk: you can use fresh cow's milk or even non-dairy milk will work.
- yeast: You can replace yeast with 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
- cardamom: Try ground cinnamon!
Mandazi can be made in a few different ways depending on the region. It can be served both as a sweet dish and paired with savoury sauces. You can make them sweet, savoury, stuffed or in different shapes too.
Did you know?
Mandazi made with coconut milk is also called Mahamri in Kenya.
I made quite a lot and so had leftovers. Stored to test if they can be reheated the next day. I reheated the leftover mandazi in the microwave for 30 seconds and it was enough to bring it back to a fresh warm state!
Mandazi has a slightly sweet and spiced flavor similar to a doughnut or a sweet bread roll making them versatile to serve as snack or with main course to mop up the traditional sauce or curries.
Yes, mandazi can be made without milk. While coconut milk is a common ingredient in mandazi, it is possible to substitute it with water or any plant-based milk such as soy milk, almond milk, or oat milk. Alternatively, you can omit the milk altogether and use water instead, although this may slightly alter the taste and texture of the mandazi.
Yes, mandazi can be a good option for breakfast. It is indeed a popular breakfast option in East Africa enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee. However, it's important to note that mandazi is a fried food and is not the healthiest breakfast option if consumed regularly.
Looking for other sweet snack recipes? Try these:
Mandazi | East African Donuts
For the dough:
- 11/2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- salt to taste
- 1 eggs small
- ¼ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup thick coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon oil
- ¼ cup lukewarm water more if required
For Coffee Glaze (optional)
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee
- 2 teaspoons hot water
- 3 tablespoon icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon cream heavy or whipping
- P a pinch of salt
- Oil to deep fry
Prepare the dough
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, oil, and coconut milk.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cardamom, salt, and yeast. Mix well.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and use the lukewarm water to bring the mixture together.
- Bring the flour together and then knead for 8 to 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. You can use a little flour if it gets too sticky or you can drizzle water if it is too dry.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. Depending on the weather and humidity, it can take anywhere between 45 to 5 hours or more for it to rise.
Prepare the Coffee Glaze
- In a small bowl, mix the instant coffee and powdered sugar with the hot water until the coffee dissolves. Cool slightly and add the heavy cream and pinch of salt. keep stirring until everything dissolves. Refrigerate until needed.
Shape and fry:
- Heat enough and more oil in a deep pot to deep fry.
- Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 or 3 balls. Keep them covered to prevent drying.
- Roll the dough to circle with thickness of about ¼ inch. Use a knife and cut along the middle - to make four equal triangles (like a pizza).
- Drop them one by one in hot oil and wait for them to come to the surface and puff up. Turn sides and fry until they are golden brown on all sides.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to get rid of the excess oil. You can serve now as is or with dust of icing sugar or jam etc. Or give my coffee glaze a try.
- Pick a mandazi while still warm, dip only one side of it in the prepared coffee glaze and keep them on a plate with the glazed side up. Serve warm with chai or coffee!
Adapted the ingredients for mandazi from kadi African recipes.
If you have tried making this Mandazi recipe or any other recipe on But First Chai, then please don't forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! I would be super happy to hear how it turned out for you. And if you happen to take any photos or videos, please share them with me on Instagram @butfirstchaai so I can see and share your feedback!