A GUIDE TO AFRICA
10 FOODS TO EAT IN TANZANIA
Tanzania is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination in Africa – it ticks all the boxes – beautiful beaches, the Big Five, incredible scenery and safari experiences, luxury accommodation and of course, delicious cuisine.
Our culinary road trip continues as we move on from Kenya to Tanzania’s traditional dishes. Tanzanian cuisine is a delicious melting pot with Middle Eastern and Portuguese influences. Beans, coconut and plantains form the basis of many of the dishes which are then flavoured with aromatic spices, making them both delicious and nutritious.
Here are our top 10 traditional Tanzanian foods.
Mandazi is the East African equivalent of the doughnut, except without any icing / frosting. It is a fried coconut bread made with coconut milk and flavoured with cardamom and a sprinkling of fresh coconut flakes. These sweet treats have a fluffy texture and can be eaten at breakfast, as a snack or as dessert. They are best enjoyed with a cup of tea, or chai, as the locals call it.
2. Mahindi Ya Kuchoma
Mahindi Ya Kuchoma is the Tanzanian take on corn on the cob. Corn is slow roasted over open coals until it starts to char. It is then drizzled with lime and pepper or lemon chilli salt. It is delicious, and if you’re looking for the tastiest version, buying from a street vendor is the way to go!
3. Supu Ya Ndizi
Supu Ya Ndizi is a staple Tanzanian soup made from plantains. Green, unripe plantains are crushed to form a paste, cooked with chicken stock and seasoned with salt and pepper to make a delicious soup.
4. Chipsi Mayai
This is one of Tanzania’s favourite comfort foods. Chipsi Mayai is Swahili for “chips and eggs” and is, in its purest form, an omelette with French fries. It may be simple, but the beauty lies in its simplicity. It’s usually enjoyed as a breakfast food. Of course, most of us tirelessly strive for a healthy lifestyle (steel-cut oats are our trusty breakfast companion), but secretly, who isn’t excited at the prospect of eating French fries for breakfast? Locals serve it with tomato sauce (ketchup) and a side of fresh veggies.
This Tanzanian dish is similar to an Indian tandoori or Middle Eastern kebabs with a Tanzanian twist. Beef, goat, chicken or fish is marinated, skewered and then grilled slowly over open coals. The meat is grilled until it is charred to give it a fiery flavour. The slow-cooking method also does wonders to enhance the flavours of the meat, so be sure to order more than one. It is a street food favourite, especially popular for a late night of dancing.
6. Mchuzi Wa Samaki
Mchuzi Wa Samaki is a fish curry dish that originates from Zanzibar. Fish is slowly cooked in coconut milk, tamarind paste, onion, tomatoes, garlic and spices to create a wonderfully aromatic and flavourful dish. It is served with chapati or rice. We recommend trying this dish back home, it’s sure to impress friends and family.
7. Tanzanian Pilau
Tanzanian pilau, much like Kenyan pilau, draws its influence from the Indian rice dish. It differs from its Indian counterpart through the use of more spices. Rice is cooked in stock and then flavoured with spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and pepper. Chicken, meat, fish or eggs may be added. It is not a staple dish – it is usually only made when there is a special celebration or ceremony.
8. Ndizi Nyama
Ndizi Nyama is a traditional Tanzanian dish. It is essentially a stew made with green plantains, meat or fish, carrots, onions, tomato, and sweet pepper. It is served either with ugali or rice.
9. Wali Na Maharage
Wali Na Maharage, translated, means rice and beans. The rice is usually cooked with coconut milk and flavoured with spices such as cinnamon, clove, star anise, cumin and bay leaves. The beans are dried and cooked in spices. The dish is easily adaptable to suit the local ingredients of the cook.
10. Ndizi Kaanga
Another popular traditional Tanzanian dish, Ndizi Kaanga is fried plantains or green bananas. It is usually prepared unsweetened, but you can add a light sprinkling of sugar to enhance the natural sweetness of the dish.