How to make Mahamri: recipe for great snacks for your tea or coffee
Great snacks with tea or coffee
Mahamri are deep fried wheat product snacks that are easy for anyone to make with very basic kitchen utensils. They are a common snack in Swahili homes along the East African coast. Mahamri are commonly served with tea or coffee and can also be eaten without drinks. They are also a great addition to any picnic hamper.
In the recipe given below, one can use ginger instead or cardamom, or both to get a combined flavour. Alternatively, once you are familiar with making Mahamri, you can experiment with different flavours. You may also substitute the margarine with butter.
- 3 medium sized Fresh Lemons
- 2 kilograms Wheat flour
- 7 grammes Cardamom seeds (Iliki)
- 1 cup (or more to taste) Sugar
- 2 tablespoons Baking powder
- 3 heaped tablespoons Margarine
- 1 litre Warm water
- 2 litres Cooking oil
The cardamom seeds
The Cardamom seeds will need to be ground and the husks kept aside. Use a small pestle and mortar as illustrated. You can use cardamom seeds that have already been ground with a machine but my wife insists that the ones you grind by hand in a small pestle and mortar will taste fresh. The husks are used later to spice the tea. To make tea with these husks, put them in the water at the same time as you put the tea, then sieve. If you are using tea bags, boil them in the water first then sieve.
Cardamom will add flagrance to your snacks besides the exotic flavour.
Mix the dry ingredients
Pour the flour, sugar, pounded cardamom, and baking powder into a pot and mix thoroughly by hand for about three minutes.
Add the margarine
Add three heaped tablespoonfuls of margarine (or butter) to the dry ingredients and use your finger tips to mix it thoroughly with the previously dry ingredients. Ensure that every bit of flour has the margarine in it.
The lemon juice
Squeeze the juice out of the lemons. Remove the seeds with a teaspoon without having to sieve the juice. Mix the lemon with one litre of warm water and put aside.
Lemons are packed withvitamin C which helps to maintain the collagen that bonds cells together.Citrus fruits are good for general skin health.
Make a sticky mass of dough
When the margarine is well spread out in the flour, you are ready to pour in the lemon flavoured warm water. Knead the mixture into a large sticky mass. When you are through, the dough should feel tacky and not dry to touch. Cover the mixture with a dumb piece of kitchen fabric (not touching the dough) for a period of one hour or more. In this case, we left the dough overnight and made the Mahamri in the morning and they were fine.
Frying the Mahamri
Pour two litres of cooking oil into a pot and heat for about 15 minutes.
Vegetable Cooking oils such as sunflower oil are rich in vitamin E. This vitamin is a good antioxidant which also helps thin blood and control cholesterol in the body. Ingesting Vitamin E has health benefits for the heart too.
Regular shapes are neat. Amorphous shapes are exotic
Some people spread the dough with a rolling pin, and then use a small cup to cut neat even rings. Others use a kitchen knife to cut neat squares. They then drop these rings or squares in the hot cooking oil. In our case, we used bare hands to form amorphous shapes that can never be uniform in size. This gives each Mahamri a unique shape. Note that the Mahamri will puff up as they fry so make your shapes flat and not round.
Drop your uniquely shaped Mahamri into the hot oil until the entire surface of the oil is bubbling with raw Mahamri. Use the perforated deep frying spoon to turn them over as they fry. This will ensure that they brown evenly. Remove the ones that are brown-ochre and add more raw dough. Continue this until all the dough is finished.
Do not wait until the Mahamri are a dark brown. Overcooked Mahamri will not be a joy to eat. Medium brown Mahamri will have a soft crust and a spongy interior that will add a joyful experience to your tea.
Now that you know how to make this tasty snack, invite some friends next weekend. You will have had the time to practice and taste them yourself. As I said above, you can tweak the sugar and spices to suit individual taste.
There are many ways to err - make mahamri. Here's a video where the dough is stiffened a little bit, and the ingredients do differ too. I would call them Mandazi, which tells you there is a thin line between mandazi and mahamri. Enjoy.
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