When I read Beccy’s post yesterday, it immediately triggered a memory from my college years–well, my second round of college years. I had originally gone to college right after high school, but in my sophomore year, it was required that we declare a major, and I had NO idea what I wanted to focus on as my major. So, rather settle for ‘whatever,’ I left school, and didn’t return until I returned to that same college town with my two young children, to work and to finish my degree. That small college town was home to many international students, and over the course of our time there, several of these students came into our home, some to share the living space for a while, some just to visit and share some home cooked meals. Some of them also introduced us to some of their favorite foods from back home, and one of the favorites that we have carried with us is Mandazi, an East African fried dough.  I remember standing with Patrick, a student from Kenya, in my small apartment kitchen as he walked me through the recipe from beginning to end. He and his wife and children, along with me, my children and a few others, happily munched through the evening on this fast and frugal treat from his home.

I’ve made these several times over the years since then, and one of the wonderful things about them is their flexibility–they can be a breakfast bread, a snack, and even as a dinner bread made with less sugar and without the confectioners sugar topping.

Since I had not made them recently, I thought I would try to find the recipe online to confirm the recipe ingredients and amounts. And I found several sources for the recipe, but there were a couple of big differences:  All the recipes I found required kneading, offering the option of using yeast instead of baking powder, and required cutting and forming the dough before baking. Now, I enjoy the yeast bread process immensely, but part of the joy of the recipe Patrick shared with me was the fact that it could be whipped up quickly, very spur of the moment, and the dough, thick and sticky, could just be scooped into the hot oil to fry. Why mess with a good thing? Why fix it if it’s not broken? Besides, Jim and I wanted mandazi NOW, not in a couple of hours. So I stuck with my remembered recipe, and here I share it with you.


Oil for deep frying

1.5 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2  teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 t. spice of your choice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, garam masala, cardamom, or a mix of your choice)

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

2 tablespoons melted butter

Confectioners sugar, optional

Heat oil in deep fryer or in small deep pan on stove to 375 degrees. Whisk together all the dry ingredients. Gently beat egg, then whisk together with milk and melted butter. Combine all ingredients well, ending with a very thick and sticky dough.  When oil has reached temperature, using a 1 tablespoon scoop or a spoon and a tablespoon measure, drop scoops of dough into the hot oil, about 6 at a time. Fry until a nice deep golden brown all over, turning the balls as needed. They should be done in 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towel, and serve sprinkled with confectioners sugar if desired. Best served warm.

Here is what they should like look when about done:


  1. the little sister says

    YAY! I am happy to see pictures of this wonderful childhood snack. I will have to make them very very soon. By the way, my mom’s kinda awesome.:)

  2. says

    I was reading the Traverse City Record Eagle today and saw your reference to a Butter Beer recipe from Harry Potter using the Vanilla Simple Syrup recipe printed in the paper. I could not find this on your website. Could you please send this to me. It sounds wonderful!
    Keep up the great writing and recipes!

  3. says

    Hmmmm childhood memories indeed – they look so yum. But you sure those are not “Vikalimati”? Mandazi are more triangular and need to be left to rise before cooking.

    Either way they are both delicious, thanks for sharing :)

  4. says

    Hi, Zulfikar,

    I’ve seen recipes where Mandazi are made with yeast and formed intro triangles, and have found other recipes that are more of a quick dough like these mentioned here. I’m no expert, all I can say is that my Kenyan friends taught me this particular version. It’s probably like so many other things–a basic recipe that has grown into many variations. Thanks for the reminder about the other type!

    Peace, Valerie

  5. says

    Childhood memories indeed! The internet is just wonderful. I was just sitting here having a coffee and a shop bought doughnut. The doughnut was pretty tasteless and I started thinking about my childhood in kenya and the smell of frying Mandazi early in the morning. I just typed it in to Google for fun, not expecting anything to come up and was very pleasantly surprised to see several mentions and your recipe. I shall most definitely be making some! Can’t wait!

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