What Is Mandazi And What Does It Taste Like?

A pastry that combines the hollow inside of beignets and the fluffy feel of donuts is bound to be a show stopper. Mandazi is just that. In case the name isn't familiar yet, this traditional, flavorful pastry originated in Africa, according to Taste Atlas. Also known as East African Doughnuts, they are a popular street food in places like Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya.

These triangle-shaped pastries are made with sugar, flour, water, yeast, and milk — though coconut milk is a common dairy-free substitute (via Bon Appetit) — and then they're fried for the perfect texture. While they aren't meant to be sweet, they can offer an array of flavors that will fit your mood perfectly. As long as the dough is cooked properly, you can't go wrong with mandazi.

The best way to enjoy them is with a cup of coffee or tea, or even better, with a mug of chai. They can also pair well with a more decadent meal like curry, says Allrecipes. But if you want to dip it into a creamy curry sauce, skip out on adding dusted cinnamon sugar on top when baking them.

The many different tastes of mandazi

Mandazi is meant to be the perfect balance of fluffy and crisp. They are fried in oil to get the golden brown color on the outside, while the inside stays mouth-watering with each bite — again proving how similar they are to beignets. The key to achieving the right texture is continually agitating the dough while frying them, says Bon Appetit.

When they are made with coconut milk, there will usually be a subtly sweet flavor as well — some also add coconut flakes for a bit of flavor. But the one main ingredient that gives these fried bites their distinct flavor is cardamom, a spice that is within the ginger family, that also lends mandazi well as a spicy side dish. Because of this, according to African Bites, they can be a flavorful, airy doughnut rather than the overly sweet breakfast pastry we are familiar with in America.

African Bites says the best way to eat mandazi is fresh out of the frying pan. And don't wait until they have been fully cooked like regular doughnuts. After they are placed on a plate for a couple of minutes, dig in!