Swahili-Style Coconut Glazed Doughnuts

We're serving up sweet, fried tropical realness right from the east coast of Africa.


When I worked in Kenya back in 2013, I lived with a woman called Tabby in her house on Diani Beach. I'd wake up at about 5am every day, with the mosque's first call to prayer, and head straight out to the HIV centre to work until lunchtime. When I returned home, Tabby and Stella, the family maid, would have fried up fresh 'mandazi' : a fried, triangular doughnut, flavoured with coconut. Mandazi (or 'mahamri') are popular all around the East of Africa, from Mozambique, right the way up to Somaliland.


Prepared using coconut fats, mandazi kept me buzzing through the rest of the afternoon, which was usually spent walking along Diani's white sandy beaches, shuffling up palm trees and paddling in the gorgeously turquoise Indian Ocean. Restaurants along the beach were pretty expensive, so I was glad of coconut fats for sustaining me through these mega-stressful extra-curricular activities.



There are a lot of variations of making 'mandazi' doughnuts, depending on where you eat them. Some Swahili communities in East Africa make them with yeast, some add pineapple juice, some even eat them savoury. Differences and preferences aside, what stood out to me about mandazi doughnuts is their peculiar triangular shape and their fluffy, coconutty insides. That is what I wanted to recreate. So I have compiled a recipe that requires simple ingredients and is incredibly fast and easy to prepare, without needing to be paranoid about yeast or anything of the sort!


These coconut mandazi doughnuts pair superbly with a cup of morning coffee. If you appreciate a grab'n'go breakfast, you could do with a supply of these doughnuts. They are a cheeky way to benefit from the ketone-rich energy of coconut oil, which should leave you prancing around in a tropical fantasy until midmorning at the least. That's a lot better than any Danish pastry can do for you!

So here's how you make these gorgeous fluffy triangles...
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What You'll Need:
for 12-16 sweet, coconutty triangles

250g Plain Flour
200g White Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1 Egg
1 can of full-fat Coconut Milk
100g Desiccated/Shredded Coconut
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Essence
120g Icing/Powdered Sugar 
1 litre of Vegetable/Sunflower Oil (for frying)
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1. Firstly, measure out all of your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, desiccated coconut, and add them to a large mixing bowl.




Mix everything together so every element is evenly combined.

2. In a jug, whisk together your egg and vanilla essence.



Then break into your can of coconut milk.


Burgle about half of the tin (just over 200ml) and whisk together with your egg + vanilla.


You should have a cool, calm coconutty cream.


3. Pour your coconutty cream into your bowl of dry ingredients.


Mix everything together with a large spoon until a dough is formed.



The dough should be soft, but not too sticky or goopy. If it is too messy to handle, add sprinkles of flour until manageable.

4. Generously flour a kitchen countertop.


Turn out your dough.


Give your dough a little roll around, and then press it out flat with your hands. A rolling pin isn't really essential for this, but if you want to be a diva, then by all means do.


Flatten out your dough until it is (very) roughly about a half-inch thick all around.

5. Now lets bust some shapes!


Take a sharp knife. A smooth-edged knife that doesn't have 'teeth' is best, as it won't snag at the dough and make a messy cut.

Simply cut out as many triangle shapes as you can.


Don't worry, they really don't have to be perfectly equilateral!

Take any leftover scraps of dough, bundle them together and roll them out again to reap any few extra triangles.


Once you have all the triangles you can possibly muster, set them on the countertop to rest while we get our fryer ready.

You might wanna clean your hands. Dough'ing around is messy work.


6. If you have a deep-fryer machine, this step is much easier! But if you don't have a deep-fryer, you can do it old-skool with me!

Take a deep frying pan - any pan will do as long as it is fairly wide and not too shallow.

Pour about 1 litre of vegetable/sunflower oil into your pan. This doesn't have to be an exact measurement - just make sure you fill your pan with enough oil so there is a depth of about 1.5-2 inches from the surface of the oil to the bottom of the pan.


Heat your oil on a high heat until it is hot. You can test this by throwing in a small piece of dough. If it starts to bubble and fizz straight away, you're good to go my friend!

7. Once your oil is hot enough to fry, we can start making doughnuts!

Set some kitchen towels nearby that you can pop your finished doughnuts onto.

Slip a single, doughy triangle into your oil and watch it puff up and buoy around. It will turn golden brown pretty quickly on the underside (about 10-20 seconds), so stay vigilant, and flip it over before it burns.


Once you get the hand of the timing, you can fry a few at a time.


You'll be an expert by the end!



8. Once your doughnuts are all finished, we can start on making the coconut glaze!

This is absolutely an optional step - traditionally these doughnuts aren't usually glazed. However, a creamy, coconutty icing glaze turns these visually plain-looking doughnuts into a truly sultry treat - a bit like British Yum-Yums, but more exotic!


Take your leftover half-can of coconut milk from earlier, and pour it into a jug.


Sift in 120g of icing sugar, until you have a thick but runny, creamy icing. It will look whiter than the bedsheets of heaven!


Pour your icing into a plate, and toss each of your doughnuts around until coated.


9. Set your glazed doughnuts on a rack to dry off.


Your doughnuts will be end up with a sweet, creamy and exotically coconutty glaze that lingers on your lips long after you've treated yourself.

Enjoy one with your next cup of coffee, and dream of the white, sandy beaches.

Thanks for reading!

Anthony :)



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