How to Make Fresh Kenyan Mahamri Snacks

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Mahamri snacks are a common treat in East Africa. Also called mandazi and similar to New Orleans-style beignets, Mahamri are small, puffy triangles or squares of dough fried to a golden brown. Cooks can tailor the recipe by adding spices and modifying the amount of sugar added. East Africans often enjoy mahamri with a hot cup of chai tea, serve them with savory meals like beef stew or eat them as a snack on their own. They can be stored and eaten later but are most enjoyable fresh and hot.

Things You'll Need

  • All purpose flour
  • Instant dry yeast
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Large spoon
  • Granulated sugar
  • Spices
  • Milk
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kitchen towel
  • Rolling pin
  • Knife
  • Frying pan or wok
  • Heat-resistant slotted spoon
  • Tongs
  • Add the flour and yeast to a large mixing bowl, using a large spoon to combine them. About three cups flour to one teaspoon dry instant yeast makes about 16 mahamri. Stir in a handful of sugar, or more, depending on how sweet you want the recipe to be. Add a little bit of ground cardamon, cinnamon, allspice or ginger, or a mixture of all.

  • Knead in coconut milk, cow milk or a combination of both with your hands. Add a little milk at a time until you have a soft and firm, but not sticky, dough.

  • Knead and pound the dough for 15 to 20 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball. Rub a light layer of oil in the mixing bowl and on the ball of dough to prevent drying. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for at least three hours or until it has doubled in size.

  • Collapse the raised dough down gently then divide it into four equal balls. Roll each ball with a rolling pin to from discs, each about seven inches in diameter. Cut each disc with a knife into four quarter-circles. Place the triangles of dough in a single layer on a lightly floured surface. Place a kitchen towel over the dough and let it rise a second time, for 15 minutes to one hour.

  • Pour about 2 to 3 inches of canola or vegetable oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan or wok. Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay four mahamri pieces carefully into the hot oil. Use a suitable spoon to move the oil gently over them.

  • Turn over the dough pieces with tongs as soon as they start puffing up and the bottoms are light brown. Continue to turn the mahamris until they golden brown on all sides. Place the cooked batch on paper towels to drain. Allow the mahamri to cool for a few minutes. Serve them fresh and warm. Store leftovers in a sealed plastic bag.

Tips & Warnings

  • Baking powder can be used in place of instant yeast. If you use baking powder, the dough only needs to rest for 10 minutes and won't need to rest after it's divided.
  • Some mahamri recipes call for a beaten egg. If you add the egg, decrease the coconut milk or milk slightly.
  • The dough can be mixed and left to rise overnight.

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