If you thought beignets couldn’t get any better, meet mandazi. These pillows of fried dough, flavored with cardamom and coconut, are eaten for breakfast across East Africa. Diners often pair them with a mug of milky spiced chai, which became a staple as Indians came to work and trade in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania under British colonial rule. The cardamom in mandazi hints at other longstanding South Asian and Middle Eastern influences on East African cuisine, the result of centuries of trade along the Swahili Coast.
Mandazi are subtly sweet, making them more versatile than sugary, Western-style doughnuts. They’re often used to sop up savory curries, such as pigeon peas cooked in coconut milk. Leftovers from breakfast or teatime may be heated up and served with dinner.
Need to Know
You can find mandazi sold on the streets in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. They're best enjoyed warm. If you want just one of these little treats, the singular term in Swahili is "andazi."
Visit Uganda with Atlas Obscura Trips
Uganda and the Mysteries of the Nile
Journey to the shores of Lake Victoria to see the source of the Nile, and follow the river through the diverse cultural and ecological landscape of modern-day Uganda—from its traditional kingdoms to the rainforests and savannah.
Where to Try It
This small shop serves up tea and various pastries.