Chips My Eye - Food in Tanzania What to Expect
By Ian Williamson
When on safari in Tanzania, or climbing Kilimanjaro or simply relaxing on the tropical coast or Zanzibar Island what is the local food like? Bellow are a few of the local dishes you may find.
Chips-my-eye [Chips ] is a traditional dish here in Tanzania. It is egg and chips - but not your north of England two fried eggs and a side order of chips - no - it is a chip omelet. Chips are placed into a shallow frying pan and then as they sizzle away two beaten eggs are pored over the top, this is then cooked into a solid omelet stuffed with chips and very nice it is too. It is not so healthy but give it a try when you visit Tanzania it is nicer than it sounds.
Katchubari: a traditional salad sliced tomato and onion [sometimes cabbage or cucumber may be added] with lime juice and a little crushed bell pepper to give it a kick. The bell peppers are called pilipili mbuzi in Swahili, which is a translated goat pepper.
Japati: or elsewhere roti. These are eaten with coffee or tea for breakfast and sometimes they accompany main meals. Tanzanian cooking can unadventurous and not very appealing to a westerner but luckily, over the last few centuries the Indian influence [especially on the Swahili coast] has introduced some wonderful dishes. There is a place on the north coast of Dar es Salaam that makes a wonderful Japati stuffed with fresh tuna and a little green pepper and spiced with local garlic and fresh ginger.
Chai tangaweizi: This is a milky tea spiced with ginger; the milk, ginger and local tea leaves being boiled together in one pan. Give it a try it is very good and is best sweetened. There are many variations of spiced tea, as spices are readily available and not expensive thanks to Zanzibar and Pemba Islands. Black tea is great in the hot afternoons when spiced with local spices or lemon grass.
Samaki wakupaka: One of many dishes using coconut milk. This is fish coated in coconut milk - this is a coastal or Zanzibarian dish. Also Kuku wakupaka which is chicken coated in coconut sauce
Marahagwe: dried beans boiled in a tomato sauce. Tastes very nice when coconut milk is added during cooking. Many dishes add coconut milk or peanut flour to make the food taste richer.
Matoki: or green cooking bananas or plantain. There are many varieties of bananas; in fact north of Arusha town there is a cultural walk, which winds through several banana plantations with over thirty varieties of banana! The Matoki variety comes from Uganda and is often served mashed. It is softer and more yellow than most variants. In my opinion also the best.
Ugali: this has many names throughout Africa and here in East Africa it is Ugali. This is maze flour cooked with water into a stiff porridge - a little thicker than mashed potatoes. This is staple diet for many Tanzanian's. It is eaten with your right hand and squashed into a ball and then eaten with food [Especially nice with Mchicha - see bellow] with foods cooked in a sauce once you have your ball of Ugali the thumb is pushed into the center of the ball to form a spoon with which you can scoop up your food.
Mchicha: this is a local spinach there are many many verities of spinach available in Tanzania. Some of them require a little longer to cook that the western varieties but they all have an excellent taste from the very bitter to sweet. Mchicha is one of the most popular spinaches and has small oval leaves and thin stems very good with Ugali.
Most hotels are now serving a selection of traditional dishes. However, if you find yourself on the coast or in Zanzibar - speak to the local people and see where they eat. Even in the towns, there are excellent restaurants that serve the local as well as international foods.
About The Author
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