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Authentic Mahamri Recipe: With Cardamom

Mahamri is a special East African donut, especially in coastal communities of Kenya, and through major parts of Tanzania. Triangular in shape and golden brown in color, sweet crunchy outside, and fluffy inside. Majorly used to accompany tea or coffee for breakfast.

You probably wondering if mandazi and mahamri are the same thing with names being used interchangeably, or just two different things. We will find out together in the conclusion of this post.

Read More:  Mandazi For Beginners Recipe: No Milk, No Eggs

I’m generally a noob in the baking game, but with numerous consultations, research, and experimentation, I think I have the peak recipe for mahamri. The only way to prove my claim is by trying out this recipe. Let’s delve into this;


  •  2 Cups, All Purpose Flour
  •  1/4 Cup, Sugar
  •  1Tsp, Cardamom Powder
  •  1Tbs, Butter
  •  1Cup, Coconut Milk


  1. By the rule of thumb in baking, we mix dry ingredients first, to a large bowl add flour, yeast then sugar. Stir with a whisk to ensure the solids are distributed evenly and the mixture is homogeneous.
  2. Melt your butter in the coconut milk till dissolved. We use warm milk to activate the yeast.
  3. Add the liquid mixture to the dry flour mixture a little at a time while mixing. When done start working your mixture to form a dough. Don’t be tempted to add any more flour or milk, everything will get together eventually.
  4. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes till the dough is smooth and non-sticky, dust your ball then proceed to oil the inside of your bowl, add your dough ball in, and cover with a damp cloth or a cling film. Rest for an hour in a warm place. Oiling the rising bowl will help with reducing stickiness to the bowl surface.
  5. Uncover the dough, (it should be more than double the size), and punch it down to release the air. Mold the dough into a thick long strip and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a smooth ball once again, dust each, and cover again to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  6. Roll out each ball into a circular disk, go for a thickness of 1/2 inch then cut the circle into halves and then quarters. Remember to dust your working surface to prevent sticking.
  7. In a saucepan add vegetable oil to 1/4 full, and heat on high till ready. You can test if your oil is ready by dropping a small piece of dough and see if it bubbles and rises. Proceed to add actual mahamri-shaped dough and then reduce the heat slightly to medium.
  8. Deep fry each side till golden brown. The mahamri will initially sink then puff up and rise then flip out to the other direction by themselves. They literally cook themselves. Be careful however as this process goes quick and requires maximum attention or you will end up with burnt mahamri. The mahamri cook fairly quick in 30 seconds or less for both sides.
Mahamri Making Procedure
Mahamri Making Procedure

How does Mahamri Taste?


Before the taste you first experience the texture, perfect mahamri should be crunchy on the outside and fluffy or puffy on the inside. You know they are even better when they got stretch marks on the outside lol. Structurally, the outside is crunchy and compact, the inside is a thin layer of fluffy dough attached to the outside layer and the middle is just hollow.

Before even taking a bite the cardamon aroma hits you, upon taking a bite you get the sweet sugar taste, followed by a coconut flavor on then after swallowing you get the aftertaste of cardamon.


  1. You may be tempted to use mandazi flour, but for the love of God just don’t. Also, it is not mandatory, but it is good practice to always sift your flour. Not that your flour contains impurities, just that it helps disintegrate the lumps. At the end, you will have nothing remaining on your sieve but the sieved flour below will be velvety smooth. If you using brown sugar it is recommended to sift it as well as it is notorious for impurities
  2. Adjust sugar to your liking, this recipe’s sweetness result is mid, add more if you want your mahamri’s sweet. Just don’t go too crazy as you will overpower other tastes. You can substitute cardamom with cinnamon or use both in case you are feeling adventurous. In that case, use 1/2 Tsp for each.
  3. The addition of butter is optional so you might skip that and you will end up with perfect mahamri. Butter just like any processed dairy is expensive in Kenya, so you might wanna substitute it with margarine.
  4. Don’t use overly hot milk or cold milk in making dough. Yeast is a living organism so it requires an optimum temperature to feed on the sugars. 27° C to 32° C is the sweet spot temperature for yeast activation. Low milk temperature won’t activate the yeast while higher temperatures above 40° C will denature the yeast. If you mess up in this step your dough and mahamri’s won’t rise. To be safe use a thermometer if you have any, or just make sure your milk is lukewarm by dipping a finger.
  5. Speaking of milk, you are not limited to coconut milk. Dairy milk also works just that you won’t be having that signature coconut mahamri taste
  6. If you have a food processor just employ it to make your dough, however, it might overwork the dough. Hand kneading is the best as you can tell the doneness of the dough. 
  7. When resting the dough make sure you use a behemoth, absolute unit of a bowl so that to allow the dough to rise to its maximum volume without height constraints; since the top gets covered.
  8. In deep frying oil choice, you are not constrained to vegetable oil, sunflower or canola, or any high smoke point oil will just work fine. Vegetable oil is the cheapest and the most accessible. Don’t use lower smoke point oils like olive oil for deep frying because everything will burn off before even cooking and olive oil is very expensive too.
  9. The initial oil temperature needs to be hot to puff up and cook your mahamri. Lower oil temperature will result in soggy and flat monstrosities.
  10. Still on the subject of oil and deep frying, with tough economic times, use a little amount of oil, get smart. Use a small diameter but deep saucepan to create the desired height with a low volume of oil. The compromise is you will be cooking a smaller number of mahamri per batch. This is still a blessing in disguise since mahamri require attention and having less to cook at a go will be less overwhelming.

Nutritional Facts

Calories: 157.5 kcal

Total Fat 3.2g | Sodium 44.7 mg | Potassium 8.5 mg | Total Carbohydrate 23.7 g | Sugars 4g | 


The nutritional information provided is an estimate and may vary based on  Ingredients, cooking methodology, and quantities used. This should only be used for informational purposes and not for dietary advice.

Differences between Mahamri’s and Mandazi’s 

  1. Mahamri are hollow on the inside mandazi are solid on the inside and more dense
  2. Mahamri’s use natural yeast as a raising agent while mandazi’s use chemical raising agents like baking powder or bicarbonate of soda(baking soda) 
  3. Mahamri use all-purpose flour while mandazi use self-raising or special mandazi flour
  4. Mahamri’s use coconut milk and cardamom for the signature flavor, while all these are optional in mandazi as instead of the milk you can use water, and cinnamon instead of cardamom or optionally leave it out.
  5. Mahamri are normally triangular while for mandazi you have the flexibility to choose any shape, triangular rectangular, or even cubes

I’ll just say mandazis are casual low effort mahamris

Mahamri vs Mandazi

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