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Mandazi (East African Doughnuts) and Around the World Embassy Tour

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A recipe for Mandazi (East African Doughnuts) inspired by the Around the World Embassy Tour in Washington, DC! These cardamom-scented doughnuts are fried until golden with a light and fluffy center.Passport DCEvery May, Events DC hosts Passport DC to commemorate International Cultural Awareness Month and the international community with street festivals, food, performances, and an abundance of traditional activities!They kicked off the event with The Flower Mart at Washington National Cathedral, the International City Food Festival at The Square, and the Around the World Embassy Tour on May 4th, 2024.The Around the World Embassy Tour is a unique opportunity to experience the food and culture of countries around the world in buildings that are generally closed to the public.This year, 60 embassies from across Africa, Asia, North America, Europe, South America, and Australia joined the celebration with a theme focusing on Musical Diplomacy.The event is free to the public with often complimentary food, drinks, and other items. Many embassies also showcase local vendors with food and crafts available to purchase.The fun continues through the rest of the month with the EU Open House on May 11, Fiesta Asia on May 18, plus other international programs and restaurants.A Few Helpful Event TipsFrom 10 am to 4:30 pm, I made it to 23 embassies mostly around Dupont Circle with the Media Pass and some very purposeful speed walking. When I visited last year with my daughter at a more relaxed pace, we got to maybe 5 at the most.When attending, note your favorites and their locations ahead of time. Plan on arriving at least 30 minutes before opening, if not earlier for more popular embassies. Lines get long throughout the day, particularly in the area right around Dupont Circle.The information booths near Dupont Circle and Van Ness-UDC stations have labeled maps and even a special passport to get stamped as you visit the different countries (may have limited quantities, particularly later in the day).The Passport DC App is another helpful tool with interactive maps, specific embassy information, event listings, participating restaurants, and exclusive content.Parking can be difficult, especially with the crowds. Of all the embassies listed below, the furthest was Ukraine House with a 0.7 mile (1 kilometer) walk north of Dupont Circle Metro Station. There are also quite a few other embassies within walking distance of the Van Ness-UDC Station.Some embassies have bathrooms, many others do not. I recommend if you see one, take the opportunity to use it.Dominican RepublicI started my day with the Embassy of the Dominican Republic! It was definitely a perfect start to the event.The embassy had activities for the whole family with music, dancing, a fashion exhibition, artwork, and even a children’s section with coloring pages inside.Booths were set up around the exterior with complimentary drinks from Barceló (Añejo and Gran Añejo Dominican Rum), Chinola Passion Fruit Liqueur, and more. Food was also available for purchase from Los Hermanos DC and Guava Artisanal Latin bakery.Costa RicaThe Embassy of Costa Rica was beautifully decorated with artwork and focused on the country’s culture and tourism.They also had complimentary coffee and snacks (Tumbis Plantain Strips).UkraineThe Embassy of Ukraine is located in Georgetown, but they were hosting at Ukraine House about a kilometer north of Dupont Circle.The entire courtyard was filled with crafts, handmade goods, clothing, a table with coloring activities, and a stage for music. Throughout the day, they also featured traditional dancers and cooking classes.BarbadosBarbados was my next stop just around the corner from Ukraine House.Inside, guests were able to enjoy a sampling of rum, coconut cooler, and Shirley biscuits (original/coconut). Food was available for purchase from De Bredman in the back courtyard along with drinks and music.CameroonThe Embassy of Cameroon greeted guests with live drummers next to the entrance.They also had tourism and cultural information on display along with food and drinks.Côte d’IvoireThe Embassy of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire also had live drummers out front with food and drinks in the back.Samples were available inside with notable items and crafts on display.South KoreaSouth Korea was hosting in the Korean Cultural Center.During my visit, I was able to watch two traditional Korean dances and loved seeing all the items on display. There was a kids’ section with a Hangul (Korean Alphabet) magnet board and a few coloring pages.Later in the day, they held a K-Pop competition. Unfortunately, outdoor activities were cancelled due to rain.HaitiThe Embassy of the Republic of Haiti had photo opportunities out front along with cultural activities and live music.They also had a beautiful display of artwork inside and food and drink samples.KenyaThe Embassy of Kenya had booths lined up around the front highlighting local products and crafts.Around the back, they had coffee, tea, and a delicious spread of Mandazi, Samosas, Mishkaki (Meat Skewers), and more.Throughout the day, they also featured live music and dance.ArmeniaThis year was the Embassy of Armenia’s first time participating!They had samplings of Ararat Brandy, Armenian coffee, and displays filled with cultural information and artwork.I was also able to catch the beautiful Qanun (քանոն, string instrument) performance just before I was about to leave.GuatemalaThe Embassy of the Republic of Guatemala focused on showcasing cultural traditions.They had vibrant kites and costumes on display and were also giving out beautiful and delicate little Guatemalan hand-painted clay birds.UzbekistanThe Embassy of Uzbekistan featured cultural activities, tourism information, and traditional music/dance. I missed it, but they made Plov at lunchtime with Laser Rice specially imported from Uzbekistan.The interior was absolutely incredible with multiple tapestries, plates, instruments, and more on display.Trinidad and TobagoThe party for Trinidad and Tobago started outside with live music and even a Mocko Jumbie (stilt walker) dancer walking among the crowd.The interior of the embassy was filled with costumes, cultural and tourism information, plus samplings of delicious treats. I picked the fudge, but they had an assortment of choices with a list of included ingredients.PeruThe Embassy of Peru was a particularly popular stop. This gorgeous building featured an art exhibition along with live music, traditional dances, a painting workshop, and Ceviche cooking class.Local Peruvian restaurants such as Inca Social, Eli’s Empanadas, and Firenzes Artisanal Gelato were also lining the sidewalk outside.Inside, they had samples of Inca Kola (a vibrant yellow, bubbly soft drink with a sweet, fruity flavor) and cocktails available for purchase from Causa / Amazonia.PhilippinesThe Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines had performances outside and fun photo backdrops.They were also giving Chicharon samples, Mama Sita’s spice packets, and food for purchase from Toby’s Handmade Ice Cream and gourmet cinnamon rolls from Matelna Bakes.AustraliaWe were supposed to visit Sydney, Australia in April 2020 before those plans were obviously cancelled. Visiting the Embassy of Australia really made me want to renew that trip sometime hopefully soon.This was the embassy’s first time participating in four years since they finished renovations. The building was packed with an abundance of activities from children’s scavenger hunts and Bluey-themed coloring sheets to performances including the didgeridoo. I especially loved the Vegemite, Lamington, and Violet Crumble chocolate bar samples.They also had wine tastings outside with a choice of two different wines from a handful available. I enjoyed the Dandelion Vineyards Riesling and Paringa Sparkling Shiraz.TunisiaThe Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia featured traditional music, tourism information, and food and drinks.I particularly loved all the dishes and cookware on display from painted tagine and plates to gorgeous tea sets.OmanThe Sultanate of Oman was featuring their open house at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center.They had cultural artifacts on display, tourism information, a notable library, henna artists, and coffee.EgyptEgypt was hosting at the Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau. This beautiful building was filled with cultural guides and artifacts on display.I went later in the day, but they also had food and drinks, coloring activities, and traditional music.JamaicaThe Embassy of Jamaica is consistently one of the most popular stops each year with lines often wrapping down the street.You can enjoy the music outside while waiting and a food truck. Inside, they had tourism information, notable products on display, and samples of Tropical Rhythms Sorrel Ginger and Fruit Punch Drink, Appleton Estate Rum, and Jamaica’s Finest Cocktails Rum Punch.EritreaThe Embassy of Eritrea was a favorite last year and again this year. They were even giving out injera with an assortment of stews to those waiting in line and cups of snacks and drinks outside.The interior was filled with artwork, cultural information, and slices of wonderfully spiced pizza from Minya’s Pizza.RwandaThe Embassy of Rwanda was just a couple steps down from Eritrea. They featured cultural activities, tourism information, videos, and traditional dancing.I also enjoyed some delicious bites here with goat, Isombe (mashed cassava leaves), and red beans, plus coffee from Matriarch Coffee (based in Baltimore).IraqThe Embassy of the Republic of Iraq was my last stop of the day.Since it was right before closing, they were packing up the outdoor activities, but had many beautiful items on display inside along with books for all ages and cultural information.Mandazi (East African Doughnuts)To pair with this post, I was inspired to make Mandazi (Maandazi) after seeing them at the Kenyan Embassy!These fried doughnuts come from the Swahili Coast in East Africa and are popular in countries across the area including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda.They are delicious for breakfast or alongside tea/coffee as a snack. I paired them with Chai ya Tangawizi (Kenyan Ginger Tea).A Few Mandazi TipsDo not pack in the flour when measuring or you may end up with too much. To measure flour, gently spoon it into the measuring up and level with a knife without pressing down. The most accurate way to measure is by weight.I used a combination of instant yeast and baking powder in this recipe. If making with active dry yeast, it needs to activate in the lukewarm milk first. Stir the active dry yeast into about 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) of the lukewarm milk, allow to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes until frothy, then mix into the dough.Green Cardamom is a highly aromatic, warm citrus-like spice. It is most fragrant and flavorful when you open up whole pods and freshly grind the seeds. If using already ground cardamom, you may need to bump the amount a little more.If the dough is too crumbly and just won’t come together after mixing everything thoroughly, add some more milk a splash at a time.Add just enough flour to create a smooth and workable dough. Too much flour or overworking will cause the Mandazi to become dense.In a warm kitchen, the first rise should take about 1 hour to double in size. During the winter with cooler temperatures, it sometimes takes closer to 2 hours.Same goes for the second rise before frying. Warmer kitchens may only need 30 minutes while cooler temperatures will need closer to an hour.I divided the prepared dough into three equal pieces about 190 grams (6.7 ounces each). Roll each piece into a circle about 1/2 inch (1.25 centimeters) thick and cut into 4 equal wedges/triangles.Mandazi may also be shaped into squares, rectangles, or even circles.Use a sharp knife to cut the dough. Otherwise it may cause the dough to stick along the edges and not rise as well.Frying the MandaziKeep the temperature of the oil no higher than 340˚F (170˚C) and adjust as needed. Too low and the Mandazi won’t fry and will just soak in the oil. Too high and they will become too dark before the center has had a chance to cook.Once heated, fry the puffed doughnuts in batches. Do not crowd the pan. They need room to rise in the oil.Fry until golden on each side, then drain on paper towels. The Mandazi are best served warm and especially the same day they are fried.If you are looking to avoid frying in oil, Immaculate Bites has a recipe for Baked Soft Mandazi.Mandazi VariationsI kept the dough basic with cardamom, but came across many variations. A few recipes add lemon zest or coconut flakes to the doughnuts.Other spices may include cinnamon, ginger, and/or allspice.Some use only baking powder. I went with melted butter in the dough, but have also seen margarine or vegetable oil. Some recipes do not have egg.Another variation is called Mahamri. I saw some recipes use the names interchangeably, while others state Mahamri has coconut milk and a bit more hollow texture in the center. It can be served with Mbaazi za nazi (stew with pigeon peas in coconut milk).For a little extra sweetness, you can optionally top the warm Mandazi with a dusting of powdered sugar.Mandazi (East African Doughnuts) RecipeAdapted from Swahili FoodMandazi (East African Doughnuts)A recipe for Mandazi (East African Doughnuts)! These cardamom-scented doughnuts are fried until golden with a light and fluffy center. Keyword Africa, African, bread, breakfast, cardamom, doughnut, fried, Kenya, Kenyan, Tanzania, Tanzanian Prep Time 15 minutes minutes Cook Time 10 minutes minutes Resting Time: 2 hours hours Total Time 2 hours hours 25 minutes minutesIngredients2 1/2 cups (312 grams) all-purpose flour1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom1/2 teaspoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt1 large egg beaten3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter or margarine melted and slightly cooled2/3 cup (160 milliliters) lukewarm milk 105-115˚F, 40-46˚CVegetable oil for fryingInstructionsIn a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, instant yeast, cardamom, baking powder, and salt.Add the beaten egg and melted butter.While mixing, slowly add the milk to bring together a soft dough. You may not need to add all the milk depending on how you measured the flour or even the brand.If the dough is too crumbly, add a little more milk.On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until soft and smooth.Place back in the bowl, cover, and allow to rest at room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 3 equal pieces (mine were about 190 grams/6.7 ounces each).Roll one piece into a circle about 1/2 inch (1.25 centimeters) thick.Using a sharp knife, cut the circle into 4 equal wedges/triangles. Transfer the pieces to a lightly floured surface about 2 inches (5 centimeters) apart.Repeat with remaining dough to make 12 triangles in all.Cover the triangles with a cloth and allow to rise at room temperature until puffed, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.Pour 2 inches (5 centimeters) of vegetable oil in a large saucepan and heat to 340˚F (170˚C), no higher.Once heated, gently add a few of the puffed dough pieces, taking care not to overcrowd.Fry until lightly golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes, then flip to fry the other side until golden.Transfer to a towel-lined platter and repeat with remaining doughnuts, keeping the temperature no higher than 340˚F (170˚C).Serve for breakfast or alongside Chai as a snack.

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