Thursday, 09th October 2014
Traditional Tanzanian Cuisine
Visit Tanzania and you’ll find restaurants representing cuisine from all over the world. But don’t stick to pizzas, the local culinary delights have been enchanting travellers for centuries.
Many people assume that Tanzania is going to have rudimentary African style food. They’re usually expecting meat, carbs, and a lack of subtle flavours. How wrong could they be! Tanzanian cuisine is influenced by the myriad of visitors that have shaped the country over the years. It’s one of the most exciting African cuisines as it combines new styles with effervescent local ingredients and traditions.
What is Tanzanian Cuisine?
In Tanzania you’ll find traditional cuisine that effortlessly blends basic ingredients into melt in your mouth luxury. But it’s very hard to pick a single dish that epitomises the country. There is huge regional variety, after all, Tanzania is a huge country.
Along the coast it’s no surprise to find lots of fresh seafood. The Tanzanians love to barbecue what they’ve caught, but equally popular is to cook it up in a coconut sauce. It’s along the coast that you’ll find the strongest influences from Indian and Persian cooking. Some people argue that it was these cultures that brought exotic delights and some strong doses of chilli to Tanzanian cuisine. But there’s evidence to suggest that the locals have always liked to pack their food with flavour.
As you head into the Tanzanian interior a lot of the cuisine is based on staple crops. Things like cassava, maize, beans, spinach, or plantains. There’s still a strong use of spices and visiting a local market is a great way to experience the variety of powders and flavours on offer. You’ll notice that each region is subtly different and that different foods are dependent on the harvesting season.
A Meal for an Occasion
Like many African countries, most people in Tanzania will eat two hearty meals a day – breakfast and dinner. They like to feel full and have energy for the day, so the meals are heavy on maize-meal and breads.
Everyone enjoys a healthy cut of meat with their meal, but most families won’t be able to afford lots of meat with every meal. Roasting a chicken certainly isn’t an everyday thing. Roasting a goat or sheep is really for a special occasion and entertaining plenty of guests.
The Traditional Tanzanian Banquet
One of the women in the Aventura office is incredibly passionate about local Tanzanian food. She helped put together a classic Tanzanian menu from Tanzania, the kind of banquet that would have the big cats from the Serengeti licking their lips. Don’t expect to find all these dishes on a menu together; some are staples and others are reserved for special occasions. But when you’re visiting Tanzania make sure you check out some of these specialities.
Supu Ya Ndizi – A thick and filling green plantain soup that almost resembles a stew.
Nyama Choma – Thick chunks of lamb meat that have been roasted on the fire.
Ndayu – Because you’re a special guest we’re including a roasted young goat in this banquet!
Kamba in Coconut Sauce – A coastal favourite involving prawns or shrimps in a fragrant coconut sauce.
Kachumbari – A fresh salad made from finely chopped tomato, onion, and chilli. The perfect cold compliment to any Tanzanian dish.
Ugali – Pounded maize-meal – the staple food across most of Africa!
Rice Pilau – Rice that’s been carefully cooked in a chef’s broth of onion, meat juices, and endless spices. Originally from India but very popular in Tanzania, often served with a few chunks of meat.
Makubi – Spinich with tomatoes and some homemade creamy peanut butter. Yum!
Kisamvu – Because no Tanzanian feast can be without cassava!
Braised spicy cabbage – Some fresh greens with a hint of chilli and curry powder.
Mandazi – Fried bread balls that look a little like small donuts – perfect for dipping into sauces and soups.
Saladi ya matund – Fruit is everywhere in Tanzania. It’s something everyone can afford so most people will eat fresh fruit after their dinner. We’re going to westernise it a little and make a fresh fruit salad of jackfruit, avocado, banana, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and pears.