From a technical point of view, mandazi may not be proper cookies. But these fried triangles are the most popular snack in Kenya and many countries in East Africa. They are usually not very sweet and they are eaten as a snack with a spicy cup of chai tea, given for breakfast and even served with curries. Mandazi are a real street food that you buy fresh from the fryer at a stand along the road.
This recipe is for the simplest and quickest mandazi. Nowadays you can find them in all shapes, flavors and sizes. But for all Mandazi from Kenya goes: eat them as soon as possible after you have made them. Then they will still be soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. If you leave them for too long, they will become tough and dry. And don’t forget the icing sugar!
If you would like to try a more luxurious version of this snack try the recipe for mahamri from Mozambique, made with coconut milk and yeast.
Mandazi from Kenya
For ± 12 small mandazi
150 g (1 cup) flour
5 g (1 tsp) baking powder
40 g (3 tbsp) sugar
pinch of salt
½ tsp ground cardamom
15 g (1 tbsp) butter at room temperature
± 60 ml (¼ cup) water
oil for frying
icing sugar to serve
In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cardamom.
Rub in the butter with your fingertips until very small crumbs form.
Mix in just as much water to form a nice, soft dough. Knead for a few minutes and then cover the counter for ± 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large (deep-frying) pan to 180 °C.
Divide the dough into quarters and shape into balls. Roll out with a rolling pin to circles of ± 15 cm / 6 inches ø. Cut them in four and fry them (a few at a time) for a few minutes until nicely browned and cooked. Turn the mandazi regularly.
Remove from the pan and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
Sprinkle with icing sugar to taste.
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