This is a Kenyan coastal/Swahili fried bread.  A true mahambri has to be hollow on the inside for stuffing, slightly crunchy on the outside and not too sweet.  It’s a must have with tea when peckish, is great as an accompaniment to a party spread and is most definitely the best to mop up the coconut rich juices of dishes kuku (chicken) paka, barazi (gongo beans cooked in coconut sauce) or fish paka.

Our family have been making mahambris whilst living in Mombasa, Kwale, Kisumu, Nairobi, Nakuru, Eldoret, London and San Francisco with varying results.  This is a version I learnt from my recent trip to Nakuru and it’s produced by far the best results.

Or pop-in to Nargis Kapoori in Southall, England for the best mahambris outside of Mombasa on Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon, a must try if you have East African roots!


  • 4 cups plain white flour
  • 1 cup coconut milk or full fat milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ heaped tsps dry Yeast
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 6 cups of oil in a wok or karahi, heated to medium


  1. Put the plain flour into a large plate, microwave for 20 secs then transfer into a deep steel or glass bowl.
  2. Heat the milk in a cup in the microwave for 30 seconds, then add the yeast, egg and sugar into the milk and beat with a fork until well mixed in.
  3. Add the liquid mixture to the flour, knead using hands, or use an electric mixer until a dough ball is formed.
  4. Cover with cling film, keep the glass or steel bowl in a warm place overnight or for 4 hours, dough should rise. Knead again for 5 minutes and keep for another hour.
  5. Divide mixture into 8 equal parts, make into dough balls and line up in a tray. Keep covered for 15 minutes.
  6. Take one dough ball, place on a lightly floured board, roll to quarter inch thickness, cut into four pieces, place a very tiny piece of dough into the heated oil, if it rises to the top immediately, oil is ready to fry batches of mahambri.
  7. Gently place 1 piece of cut dough into the oil, using a slotted spoon immerse the mahambri into the oil, at the same time pouring hot oil onto the top. Once risen, turn over. (This will come with practice!). Add another, then another piece until you have 3 or 4 (not more) bobbing in the oil.
  8. Fry until golden brown, then remove onto kitchen paper to drain off excess oil.
  9. Serve warm with kuku (chicken) paka, machi (fish) paka, barazi (gongo beans) or eat cold with a cup of masala tea or coffee.


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About Me

I am Sabiha Khokhar, born in Kenya now living in London – a busy working mother, wife, published author and passionate cook. Despite having many interests in life, my greatest joy is FOOD!

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