We came home one evening to our guest house in Kenya to find our very kind housekeeper, Helen, making a big basket of mandazi. They smelled delicious, like fried dough and warm flour. We asked Helen how they are made -- read on for a super-quick video of frying mandazi!
We ate these so quickly that we forgot to take a photo! (The lovely photo above is by Flickr member rissmiss.) But we were also surprised by how familiar these little fried rolls tasted: they are almost identical to the fried krofi rolls that my family makes. It just confirmed the long-standing belief that yes indeed, every culture has some form of fried bread.
Mandazi are made at home for breakfast and they are also cooked up on the street, sold by the plateful as warm afternoon snacks. You can eat them plain and unadorned, or you can roll them in sugar. We split them and filled with Kenyan red plum jam, and they tasted like the best jelly doughnuts ever.
As you can see from the video, mandazi are not difficult to make. These didn't even have yeast, although some recipes do call for it. Here's one basic recipe for mandazi:
(Image: Flickr member rissmiss, used with permission.)