13 Traditional Tanzanian Food To Try

traditional food in tanzania

Tanzanian cuisine reflects both the country’s history and geography. Ingredients such as curry reflect its role as a crossroads of trade, as Indian traders introduced it to the region. Tanzania also has their own version of a kebab. Important ingredients include plantains, coconut, rice, and cornmeal. Many of the local dishes are also found in its fellow Swahili-speaking East African neighbors. Plantains are also plentiful in Tanzania and this is reflected in how many dishes contain it. Some of the most important foods to Tanzania are ugali, maandazi, vitumbua, Wali wa Nazi, Supu ya Ndizi, Ndizi Kaanga, Mchuzi wa Samaki, Mishkaki, pilau, chapatti, Wali na Harage, mchemsho, and chipsi mayai. Keep reading to learn more about the traditional food in Tanzania.

1. Ugali

Tanzania food - Ugali na kuku wa kienyeji wa kuchoma
Source: Photo by user Fredrick Mboma used under CC BY-SA 4.0

While not exclusive to Tanzania, ugali is ubiquitous throughout the country. It is starchy food made out of cornmeal, similar to polenta. It accompanies many Tanzanian meals, especially ones involving meat or vegetable stews. It can also be served with greens or sourced milk. Tanzanians usually eat with their hands, but ugali functions as a sort of utensil. Tanzanians use three fingers to scoop out some of the ugali and create a sort of mini bowl that is used to scoop the rest of the food on the plate. It is commonly served with meals in rural Tanzania.

2. Maandazi

Source: Photo by user Orrling used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Mandazi is a fried bread that is prominent in the cuisine of Swahili-speaking people. It can be eaten as a side dish or as a snack. Mandazi can also be used as a dipping bread. They are also commonly served with tea. Mandazi has a similar triangular shape as samosas, but can also be oval or circular shaped. They tend to have a fluffy texture as well. Common ingredients include water, sugar, flour, yeast, and milk. It is available everywhere in Tanzania including on the street or hotels. They are similar to a donut, but not as sweet and are never covered in frosting.

3. Vitumbua

Source: Photo by user Imaculate used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Vitumbua is a deep-fried dish commonly served during breakfast, especially with tea. They are sort of an East African breakfast pancake. However, it has a heavier texture than a typical western pancake. It also has a coconut taste to them. Vitumbua is made from rice flour, coconut, and yeast. It is also commonly found in street food. It is sweet tasting and melts in your mouth. Vitumbua is especially common in Ramadan because of how filling it is.

4. Wali wa nazi (rice in coconut milk)

Wali wa nazi, kuku rosti & banana z what we having this Blessed Sunday afternoon. Food afternoon Food lovers!!

Posted by Menu Time on Sunday, 9 July 2017

A popular Swahili dish, wali wa nazi is meant to accompany a meal containing either red meat, chicken, fish, or curry. It can also be eaten as a meal by itself. Wali wa nazi consists of rice boiled with coconut milk, that is then garnished with vegetable leaves. Even after the inclusion of other ingredients, it maintains a distinct coconut flavor. It is primarily eaten by Tanzanians who live on the coast of the Indian Ocean. This contrasts with Tanzanians who live inland who eat beans, cornmeal, millet, and sorghum. Wali wa nazi can also be found in other East African countries such as Kenya.

5. Supu ya ndizi

Posted by Rift Valley Cultural on Monday, 15 May 2017

Supu ya ndizi is a plantain soup that is made by crushing up plantains into a paste, then cooked with chicken stock. The plantains used are usually unripened green. It is seasoned with salt and pepper. Supu ya ndizi is usually served for breakfast with chapatti on the side. It is a commonly found soup, as plantains are ubiquitous in Tanzania.

6. Ndizi Kaanga (fried bananas)

Fried plantains/kokoo/dodo/ alloco/ ndizi kaanga. What is this called on your side of the world? πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹ πŸ“·| @iamtatashey...

Posted by Dine Diaspora on Wednesday, 18 May 2016

A popular Tanzanian snack, Ndizi Kaanga are fried plantains that are usually unsweetened. This dish can be seasoned with sugar to give it a sweet taste. Ndizi Kaanga can be served as either a side dish or a snack. They are sometimes grilled, then seasoned with salt.

7. Mchuzi wa samaki (curried fish in coconut milk)

Mchuzi wa Samaki (Fish Curry) Ingredients: 1.5kg firm white-fleshed fish, filleted and cut into serving portions oil...

Posted by We Love Tanzania on Monday, 6 August 2012

Mchuzi wa Samaki is a fish curry dish that also includes coconut milk, which gives it a creamy texture. This dish originated from the island of Zanzibar. The curry found in this ingredient displays Zanzibar’s legacy as an important stopover for traders.

8. Mishkaki (beef or chicken kebabs)

Tanzania cuisine at its best: Mishkaki - chicken on sticks ... 🍴🍒πŸ’₯πŸ‡ΉπŸ‡Ώ Photo courtesy of @mambozfood Thanks for sharing...

Posted by My Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Mishkaki is a kind of East African kebab. Beef and chicken are common meats, but fish and mutton are sometimes used as well. The meat is marinated, skewered, and grilled until it is tender. They are very popular during the evening hours and are available as local street food.

9. Pilau (or Pilaf)

Pilau, fish and beans

Posted by Natalia Rincon on Sunday, 23 February 2014

Tanzanian pilau, also known as pilaf, is a rice dish that originated from India. It is different from its Indian counterpart by using more spices. Spices used in this dish are cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamom, and black peppercorn. It is commonly served at weddings, for visitors, or holiday celebrations.

10. Chapatti (flatbread)

...chapati and chai. The chapati is made fresh right there and it tastes delicious when it's hot. http://smu.gs/YHquDX

Posted by Jammin Global on Friday, 22 February 2013

Chapatti is a flatbread that has origins in the Indian subcontinent. It is unleavened and pan fried. Chapati is served with stews, vegetables, and meats. It is commonly served during tea break. They can be eaten either as a snack or a side dish. Chapatti can be found all over East Africa. White or all-purpose flour is used to make chapatti. The dough is rolled out, rolled back together, and fried. Tanzanians eat it at any time of the day, and it is one of the most commonly consumed foods in the country.

11. Wali na maharage (rice and beans)

Rice and beans, a very common dish in Tanzania. Wali na maharage. Karibuni chakula!

Posted by Sven-Axel Conrad on Thursday, 21 March 2013

Wali na Maharage translates to “rice and beans,” which are the two main ingredients of this dish. The rice is flavored with cinnamon, clove, anise, and bay leaves. The beans are dried and included with local ingredients that create a sweet and spicy bean stew.

12. Mchemsho

bachelor food, alafu ulete bibi apike mchemsho. fimbo mara iyo iyo.

Posted by Alex Mwangi Kagwaini on Friday, 3 May 2013

Served in the northern part of the country, mchemsho translates to trouper. It is not a commonly served dish. This is due to the fact that many ingredients are used to prepare it, making it more expensive than other local dishes. Ingredients include carrots, potatoes, eggplant, cabbage, green beans, bananas, onions, and tomatoes.

13. Chipsi mayai (chips and eggs)

~Chipsi Mayai~ Chipsi Mayai East African popular dish cooked with eggs, capsicum, and chicken. Prepare for breakfast...

Posted by KhanaPakana.com on Saturday, 30 May 2015

Meaning “chips and eggs,” it is a commonly served fast food in Tanzania. French fries and eggs are its main ingredients. Locals serve it with ketchup and fresh veggies on the side.

Tanzanian cuisine is a reflection of the country's geography and history

Tanzanian cuisine is unique for its history and geography. The Indian influences in the cuisine, most notably curry, reflects its role as a crossroads of trade. The country also has a plentiful amount of plantains, coconuts, rice, and cornmeal. These are staple ingredients to Tanzanian cuisine. When visiting this beautiful country, you should try each of these delicious dishes.

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