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Brighter Tanzania Cookbook: East African Chai Tea & Mandazi

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 6:00 AM | Emma Hill

Add some East African flair to your Thanksgiving this year with 2 recipes from Brighter Tanzania's cookbook! (Coming soon.)   These are great additions to a breakfast, brunch, or even dessert!   

Edit: Stick a fork in it, our cookbook is ready for purchase, in softcover and ebook format. (I personally prefer the ebook format!)

East African Chai

Chai is how many East Africans start and end their days. The basic flavor profile below is typical of East Africa. There's a lot of regional variations in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Even towns and individual households have their own twist on this basic recipe. The spices used in East African Chai have strong flavors; slightly different ratios, substitutions, and brew time variations can change the whole experience.  

 Chai Tea with decorative cream. Photo by Felicia McKenzie. 


  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorn
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1 long cinnamon stick (about 4 inches)
  • 1 tbsp. (approx 6-8) whole cardamom pods (opened a bit)
  • 1 tbsp. minced ginger
  • 4 tbsp. sugar or to taste
  • 4 tea bags or 1½ tbsp. loose black tea leaves (black tea variety up to you)


  1. In a medium size pot, simmer the water with the tea bags, all the spices, and the ginger, covered, for 10-15 minutes.  
  2. Uncover and add the milk, stirring evenly while it heats up. Be aware that milk can burn easily. Steady stirring helps prevent that.
  3. Let the milk starts to simmer and rise up the edges of the pot. Remove the pot from the heat and let the simmering settle.
  4. Strain to remove tea leaves, sticks, etc.  Add sugar to taste, if necessary.


Mandazi, or “African doughnut” is a sweet, fried dough common to Tanzania and Kenya. They are wonderful with powdered sugar, syrup or a dipping sauce of your choice. Mandazi is often served with Chai.

Mandazi and Coffee. Delicious. Photo by Felicia McKenzie.  


  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter or oil
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking yeast
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon or cardamom
  • 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar

 Mandazi cooked in a traditional kitchen. Photo by Steph Walczak.  


  1. Dissolve the yeast in a small amount of warm water.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg until well mixed, then add coconut milk and sugar while stirring.
  3. Place 2 cups of flour in a bowl; add the cinnamon or cardamom, then add the starchy yeast water. Work into a sticky dough, and add about half the liquid mixture from the first bowl.
  4. While kneading, alternately add the remainder of the flour and egg mixture.
  5. When all ingredients are well mixed, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 15 minutes until it is soft and elastic.
  6. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes
  7. Divide into 8-10 pieces. Roll out each piece to approximately ¼ - ½” then slice into quarters.
  8. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat and deep-fry dough until golden brown.
  9. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to remove excess oil. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Brighter Tanzania Foundation is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization. Donations may be tax-deductible.

Phone: (608) 886-9160

8383 Greenway Blvd PMB 633
Middleton, WI 53562

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