WOSU News Reporter Adora Namigadde grew up savoring the traditional foods her Ugandan family prepared – including the lightly spiced Ugandan doughnut called mandazi. Namigadde says mandazi is at the heart of every family get-together. Seriously.
“I’m a first-generation American – I’m the first person in my family who was born in this country,” Namigadde said in a recent interview. “And I grew up with parents who said, ‘When you’re out in the world, you’re in America. But when you’re in this house, you’re in Uganda.’”
Namigadde was raised on mandazi as a dessert after family meals and at holidays and other special occasions.
“We would definitely have it with every sort of big holiday, big meal,” she said. “My family’s Catholic, so Christmas dinner, you’re going to have mandazi. Easter dinner, you’re going to have mandazi – someone is going to bring mandazi to the table.
“But we would also have it casually, too, because it’s pretty easy to make,” she continued. “You just make the dough and you fry it on the stove, and you’re done. And it also stores well and saves well day after day.”
As a teenager, Namigadde learned all about mandazi when her mother taught her how to make Ugandan dishes and other favorites.
“About then I was just like, ‘I need to learn how to make everything my mom knows how to make before I go off to college,’” Namigadde said.
For Namigadde, mandazi is more than a sweet, yummy treat. Mandazi has always been about celebration.
“It just reminds me of having a good time,” she said. “My parents both love having people over. So if we were hosting for any reason, mandazi was going to be made, chai tea was going to be made, and you’re going to have the two things together.”
Said Namigadde: “There’s no way you can have a Ugandan party and not have mandazi. People would be like, seriously?”