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This recipe has been tested by staff at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in an American kitchen. The cooks who participated in the Kenya program of the Festival, who can be heard on the accompanying podcast were cooking in the outdoor kitchen at the event, and their recipes are designed for Kenyan climates and kitchens. Thus, cook with discretion. Good luck!

“Everyone makes mandazi, but not everyone is successful at it.” —Diana N’Diaye

This is a dessert made all over Kenya, generally served hot with morning or evening tea. In rural communities it is called mahamri, whereas in more urban and central communities it is known as mandazi. The English interpretation of these names is basically “a donut without a hole.”


  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  • Mix all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Let dough sit for about an hour in a warm place to rise, covered with a dry, light dish towel.
  • Using a wok, heat enough vegetable oil to deep fry the donuts. To test the temperature, drop a small piece of dough in the oil; if bubbles form around the dough, the oil is hot enough.
  • Form pieces of dough into triangular or circular shapes, whichever you prefer.
  • Put formed dough into hot oil, and fry until golden brown on all sides, turning the dough to prevent burning. The inside should be a balance between dense and fluffy.
  • This dessert can be served hot or cold, though it is generally preferred hot, and served with tea. It is already a sweet treat, so it is not traditionally dipped into other sweet sauces or covered with sugar.

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