The Afrikaner Amagwinya is absolutely incredible fried bread that is very popular in South Africa, so much so that on 30 August each year, a whole day celebration is dedicated to it.
The story of the Amagwinya day
Apparently, all the cultures that have encountered flour in their history have simultaneously discovered the magic that is created by dropping the leavened dough into boiling oil. Like most fried dough pieces of bread, the Amagwinya has a clear resemblance to the doughnut, but only in texture and composition, since its most popular preparations are very far from the sweet fillings typical of doughnuts.
The word Amagwinya is of Zulu origin and can be translated simply as a fat cake.
It is believed that the Amagwinya originates from the Dutch Oliebol. The Oliebol arrived in South Africa through trade and travelers, and it became a common food of the local population. The two most common preparations are: bread stuffed with meat, closed, and then fried; and bread first fried and then opened and stuffed with a salty curry filling.
In both cases, the main ingredient is fried and stuffed bread, a common tradition for many people and cultures. Amagwinya can be found all over South Africa. People gather everywhere to enjoy it: in markets, in the street, outdoors. Those who love savory and fried food will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a new food experience on Amagwinya Day.
How to celebrate Amagwinya Day
Unless you have an African restaurant or market nearby, the best way to celebrate this day is to roll up your sleeves in the kitchen and prepare Amagwinya by yourself. You can expand the menu and add other common South African dishes or, more simply, you can add the French fries commonly paired with Amagwinya.
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Not just a South African dish
Amagwinya is food that is reminiscent of people at home, the kitchen of your mother or aunt (ausi) or semausu, the corner shop, or the street vendor. It is not only known in South Africa but also in many parts of Africa, such as Botswana, for example. In Zimbabwe, it is called mafatcook or fetcook, which is just another variation of the term vetkoek, meaning fried and stuffed bread. It is also known by the same name in some parts of Malawi, they call it mandasi. In West Africa, there is a version known as bofrot in Nigeria or bofrot in Ghana. In Kenya, there are mandazi and mahamri.
However, the fragrant spices found throughout East African cuisine give these recent versions a completely different flavor. They are incomparable. Thus, we will simply describe the kneading and frying process, leaving the filling to the imagination of whoever prepares it. The extremely unhealthy combination of Amagwinya and French fries, however, is what everyone always agrees on.
- 500 grams of flour (or cake flour without yeast)
- 4 tablespoons / 30 grams of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of instant yeast
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 500 ml of hot water
- In a clean bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.
- Add the hot water and the vegetable oil and start stirring until the mixture is soft.
- Once the dough has been mixed very well, cover with a cloth and let it yeast for at least an hour. It is a rather moist and soft dough.
- After one hour, the dough should be double the size. Knead it again. This helps to obtain a softer consistency. Let it rest for another 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat plenty of vegetable oil in a frying pan.
- Test the temperature of the oil with some dough. It is important to make sure that the oil is heated over medium heat to prevent the Amagwinya from burning too quickly without cooking completely inside. It helps to use a second spoon to push the dough into the hot oil. Fry the Amagwinya until they turn golden brown, and be sure to flip them to ensure even cooking.
- Once the Amagwinya is well colored, remove it and let it dry on an absorbent kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
- Serve the Amagwinya with the combination and the stuffing you prefer.