Baked mandazi, Nakuru – a town on the brink…

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We regularly revisit the fundamental question of why are we opening a bakery? We aim to have a sustainable business whose profits we can put into eye care for those in the local population who cannot afford it.  However, the vision is wider than just this and we want the bakery to encourage health on all levels.

In the UK £7m is spent by the government each year promoting healthy eating

In the UK £700m is spent by the food and drink industry promoting unhealthy food per year

Nakuru is a town on the brink. On the brink of great success and growth and on the brink of an epidemic of food related diseases. If we only pursue profit margins for an apparently noble cause  we will soon find ourselves compromising on the quality of our products and having many other long-term negative consequences. We could make more profit by using lower quality ingredients, however it is exactly this compromise that rules the food and drinks industry which in turn rule our eating behaviours. Combined with reduced physical activity that comes with more and more people moving in to sedentary jobs and lifestyles has brought us close to an explosion in diabetes and related diseases, a pandemic across the world.

Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke are all together termed as Non Communicable Diseases (NCD), in other words, diseases you don’t catch off one another, ironically we do “catch” our lifestyle choices from one another and our environment.   80% of people living with diabetes are in middle and low income countries such as Kenya, Type II is preventable and can be well controlled with services for all the complications such as having a regular eye examinations.  Half a million people are blind due to diabetic retinopathy, one million have amputations a year due to nerve damage and many have serious kidney problems. Unfortunately most African countries don’t have the infrastructure to support and preserve health for this growing population of patients.  Just the simple fact that very few people have access to a fridge means that its difficult to store insulin (A diabetic treatment) at home.  To complicate the issue diabetes also increases risk of TB and using Antiretrovirals (HIV/AIDS medication) increases diabetes risk, the peak age of onset is between 20 and 40 years in low and middle income countries consequently and not surprisingly the disease burden (disability, death and loss family wage earner) is much higher than in wealthier countries.

The problems with highly refined, processed foods are the hidden fats and sugars. The fats increase the likely hood of obesity and leads to diabetes and damages heart vessels. Processed food are bulked out with many refined carbohydrates which are very quickly converted into high levels of sugar in the blood stream.  Fats and sugars make the food sweet, last longer in the home and far cheaper to produce. If you are on a limited budget, low-cost is the only affordable option.

Unfortunately the effects of a more processed diet and lower levels of physical activity are damaging the world over, but the burden of this is higher in countries like Kenya.  If we can provide delicious, healthier alternatives to currently available food, maybe, just maybe we could have a small effect on the direction we are headed.

We are aiming to have two ranges from Jamii Bakery. The speciality high end bakery products appealing to those with disposable income and a Jamii basics range; a cost neutral, healthier alternative to Kenyan staples. One of which is the mandazi, eaten everywhere from road side stalls, a triangular shaped donut fried in  lot of low-cost oil.

mandazi fried

Heathy food will not be eaten just because it is healthier. It needs to be familiar, similar in price and better tasting if there is any hope of them being accepted in the community. This bake was all about trying to do just that.  Rather than the oil rich mandazi I tried to make mango filled baked ones. The mango (very cheap and plentiful when in season) is to add a little flavour that is lacking from not using any oil. I heated the mango with a little cardamon and piped a blob inside each one. Amongst our team at least, they went down really well.

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Chef Sam cooks on the Jiko as Bryan gives education on diabetes and high blood pressure

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Recipe – Baked Mango filled Mandazi

Admittedly I used the mix the Kenyans used.  The ingredients say white wheat flour, sugar, edible oil (!) baking powder, flour improver’s.  We were a little busy packing so I didn’t get the chance to make and compare my own version with rapeseed oil (a healthier oil which is farmed locally) but actually I very much wanted to make them this way so that the only difference is the cooking method and mango addition.

Ingredients:

500g mandazi mix (Give me a little time and I will have a recipe for use in a UK kitchen!)

1 cup of water to form a firm dough

1 beaten egg to glaze

1 mango, cut, boiled with a pinch of cardamon

Method:

1. Mix the mandazi mix and flour then knead a little into a firm soft dough. Leave in a covered ball for 30mins.

2. Divide into 4 and roll out each then cut into 4 quarters about 1cm thick each

3. Place on a floured tray or non-stick baking sheet and bake for 12-15mins at 180C

4. Once cooked cool on a tea towel or wire tray and make a small hole in the mandazi with a teaspoon handle then pipe a blob of mango puree into the middle

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