Mandazi doughnuts


Ndazi (singular), mandazi (pural)

***** Location: Kenya
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


Mandazi (pl.) are roadside snacks for many Kenyans, and are more popular, the closer you get to the Indian Ocean coast. They are picked up at roadside caf├ęs for breakfast with milky tea or eaten on the way home by workers in need of sustenance. Small restaurants serving Kenyan food, will have mandazi on offer. And you can usually find them at bus terminals, such as the Country Bus Station (“Machakos Airport”) in Nairobi, for sale to departing or arriving passengers.

While mandazi are quite filling, they have little nutritional value. Mandazi are made of a dough similar to that of doughnuts or Belgian waffles, but are only slightly sweet in flavour. The ingredients are simple -- flour, water, a bit of sugar and salt, baking powder, and then liquid cooking fat to deep fry them in. This is a very quick process, and you can stand and wait comfortably while your ndazi is being cooked, and then tuck into the hot crispy pastry as soon as most of the oil has dripped off.

Freshly cooked mandazi for sale at the roadside

Mandazi are also often part of the fare at special occasions, such as family gatherings. And I know a church where the young people gather to bake a huge supply of mandazi just before Christmas, so that everyone can eat after the Christmas Eve midnight mass.

Text and photos : Isabelle Prondzynski

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


dirty plates --
cooking red mandazi
at the roadside

cold morning
and a red smoky fire --
brown mandazi

two dirty boys
salivating for mandazi for sale-
a woman's scaring stare

smoky morning -
street boys and a mandazi woman
with unfriendly eyes

Harrison Wambua

Preparing mandazi
Preparing mandazi for passing pedestrians in the evening


rainy morning --
mother eating mandazi
with tea with zeal

~ Jane Mumbua

in the hotel --
people drinking tea with
huge mandazi

~ Samuel Ndung'u


after a mandazi vendor
repairs her torn stall roof --
cloudy sky

after tea and mandazi --
boiled cassava and sweet
potatoes follow

Patrick Wafula

Visiting the Rift Valley


cold in August --
the morning warmth beside
a mandazi vendor

Caleb Mutua

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