Maasa (also known as Pancake Doughnuts) from Mali-Desserts Around the World

Pancakes, and donuts. Two of my favorite breakfast foods! So, when I heard that there was a dessert that basically combined the two, I knew this was the one for me! But boy was I wrong…


The Maasa LOOKED good…

As a reminder one of our two challenges this year is to make 12 desserts from all around the world! So far I (Karenna) have made Bolivian Tawa Tawas, Thai mango sticky rice, and now, Maasa from Mali!


This dessert intrigued me right away when, upon googling ‘Desserts from Mali,’ something occasionally known as ‘pancake doughnuts’ came up. Maasa, is a sweet treat often found fresh on the streets of Mali and is commonly referred to as an alternative to pancakes. According to the two most common grains in the West African region, rice flour and millet flour are both used in this recipe (although I couldn’t find millet flour at the store and so I replaced it with normal, all purpose flour.) and no eggs are used.


Making this dessert was super easy! The making of the batter only took about 20 minutes and it was very straight forward as long as you had all of the materials. (for example, I’d never heard of either brown rice or millet flour.) Although, funny story, I did have a bit of trouble boiling the water when, on my first try, the water evaporated before I had a chance to use it ;). After making the batter, all you had to do was let it sit until you were ready to eat. Usually, the Maasa is fried however I decided to cook them, like pancakes, on the griddle!

Before and after allowing the Maasa dough to sit.

But while I was impressed with how easy it was to make this dessert, I was extremely unimpressed with the taste (the most important part). It’s hard to describe, but I’ve eventually decided that it tasted like burned, but otherwise tasteless, bread. While the powdered sugar and blueberries masked the horrid taste a little better, it was still waiting for you once the sugar dissolved and the blueberries had been swallowed.


While I was not at all a fan of this recipe I wouldn’t be opposed to trying Maasa again-particularly if I were to go to Mali. I think it’s possible that my adjustments to the recipe (using the griddle instead of frying them) may have been part of what led to the strange taste.

To conclude, the Maasa was very easy to make and it turned lout very pretty when topped with powdered sugar and blueberries (I would also recommend adding other fruits as well such as strawberries) but, I strongly disliked the taste and so this dessert did not meet the high expectations I had for these ‘pancake doughnuts.’


The Recipe:


  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 cups millet flour
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • Fruit, to top


  1. Add the boiling water to 1/2 cup of milk. Next add the sugar and yeast. Sit aside for a few minutes or until ‘frothy.’
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the millet flour, brown rice flour, and baking powder. Then, combine with the yeast/milk mixture.
  3. Add the last 1 1/2 cups of milk (a little at a time) until you reach a thick batter. Cover and let sit in a warm spot for at least 30-45 minutes.
  4. Place by spoonfuls in a thin layer on a hot, buttered griddle. Cook until golden brown and turn once halfway through. *If you don’t have a griddle you can fry them in a frying pan in a thin layer of vegetable oil.*
  5. If  you used the frying pan method, drain on a paper towel.
  6. Top with a heavy coating of powdered sugar and fruit. Serve immediately!
  7. Enjoy!!

Recipe adapted from and background info from

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