The food of Uganda melds the food of its forefathers with the food of its colonizers and immigrants to make for an interesting mash-up. Mandazi, the Ugandan doughnut, is an excellent example of this. A popular snack that sometimes stands in for breakfast, this puffy, soft, pillowy, fried dough is nothing like the doughnuts those in the USA are familiar with. They are mildly sweet and never glazed. The flavors of Mandazi have a whiff of Indian and Arabic influences with the addition of cardamom and coconut. Freshly ground cardamom is the key to get that fragrant taste of the spice, but feel free to use the pre-ground variety if that is what is readily available. Some recipes use coconut milk while others use whole milk while still others use a combination of evaporated milk and oil. I’m using whole milk, but I imagine coconut milk will bring the coconut flavor to the forefront. This recipe makes enough for a crowd (about 20 doughnuts) but you might discover that given how tasty and light they feel, it might just be enough for a “crowd” of two!
Coconut and Cardamom Mandazi (Ugandan donuts)
Dry yeast — 1 tsp
Water, warm — ½ cup
All-purpose flour — 3 cups
Granulated sugar — ¾ cup
Coconut grated, unsweetened — ½ cup
Cinnamon — 1 tsp
Cardamom, powdered — 1 tsp
Salt — ½ tsp
Egg — 1
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Milk (whole or coconut) — ½ cup
Oil/butter for greasing dish
Neutral oil for frying
Confectioners (powdered) sugar for dusting
Stand mixer (optional)
Wok or frying pan
- Add the dry yeast to the warm water and set aside for the yeast to bloom (activate). Note: water should not be hot, but lukewarm.
- Grease a bowl to store dough and set aside.
- In a stand mixer or mixing bowl, add flour, sugar (I used brown sugar to give depth of flavor), coconut flakes, cinnamon, cardamom and salt.
- Mix well to incorporate all the dry ingredients.
- Add egg and mix (at low speed if using stand mixer).
- Now add the water/yeast mixture. It should be frothy, and the yeast granules should be dissolved.
- Mix to incorporate and then add the milk and knead the dough until it pulls apart from the sides of the bowl and can be picked up as ball of dough.
- Transfer the dough to the greased bowl and cover with a towel and set aside for 1 – 2 hours until dough rises.
- Roll out the dough to about 1-inch thickness and cut into squares or triangles.
- Heat oil in the frying pan and add the dough and fry till golden brown. They puff up and brown pretty quickly.
- Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve hot.
Recipe and photo credit: Vinola V. Munyon