To mark the commencement of Mawlana Hazar Imam's Diamond Jubilee on 11th July 2017, TheIsmaili Nutrition Centre is pleased to launch "Taste of Culture" - a celebration of our cultural diversity through the joy of food. Travel around the world with us, as we dish out food secrets from the locals themselves. From Dar-es-Salaam to Dallas, discover some of the most notable and mouth-watering local dishes that promise to make you a cultural connoisseur! Our first Stop: DAR-ES-SALAAM, TANZANIA.

The home of Mawlana Hazar Imam's Takht-Nashini in 1957, Tanzania is home to a large community of Ismailis. Along with it's year-round beautiful weather, Tanzania also offers a plethora of diverse street food options, fit for all palates - especially if you're one to enjoy barbecue. Check out some of the irresistible food options from Dar-es-Salaam.   

1. Ugali, Chachandu, Nyama Choma and Kachumbari

Nyama Choma is a great stand-alone dish, but if you'd like some more flavour, compliment it with kachumbari (salad) or chips.
Nyama Choma is a great stand-alone dish, but if you'd like some more flavour, compliment it with kachumbari (salad) or chips.
FoodsByRicky

A staple meal for local Tanzanians, Ugali is a stiff dough, complimented with a thick tomato paste curry called “Chachandu”. If you're a meat lover, pair with Nyama Choma – a slow-cooked, succulent barbecuemeat that melts in your mouth! You can also compliment the meat with chips or kachumbari (salad). Most Tanzanians have a story or memory associated with these foods, which are readily available at most local restaurants. 

Pro tip: Kachumbari from Dar-es-Salaam tastes much better than anywhere else in East Africa, so if you're there, don't forget to try it!

2. Mishkaki, Nundu and Ajaam

Mishkaki is perfect for a quick bite, or over a sit-down meal. Compliment it with ajam (naan) or chips for more flavour.
Mishkaki is perfect for a quick bite, or over a sit-down meal. Compliment it with ajam (naan) or chips for more flavour.
Riyaz Lalani

One of the most famous East African dishes, Mishkaki, is a delicious, slow-cooked, barbecued meat served on skewers. This dish is popularly served any time of the day – a hearty morning breakfast, late afternoon snack or the perfect dinner side. Mishkaki is best served with Ajam (naan) or devoured with a side of crispy chips (french fries). Make sure you don’t miss out on the side of fried bananas (you can get grilled versions too!) to complete this exquisite meal. Mishkaki is available at every brink and corner of Dar-es-Salaam, at street-stalls, hole-in-the-walls, and five star hotels.

3. Sekela Chicken and Chips

Similar to the South Asian Chicken Tikka, Sekela Chicken is available at every street corner and Dar-es-Salaam.
Similar to the South Asian Chicken Tikka, Sekela Chicken is available at every street corner and Dar-es-Salaam.
Salim Nensi

'Sekela' means roasted in Gujarati. If you're in Tanzania, you can't miss Sekela Chicken... even if you tried! Probably a close relative of the South Asian tandoori chicken, this crispy, juicy chicken roasted in spices and served on a skewer is irresistible. It is most commonly served as a main dinner dish, and once you slather it with spicy, sweet, and sour chutneys, you won't be able to stop! Compliement it with chips, Ajam (naan) or salad for even more flavour. You won't have to go far to Sekela Chicken, as it's available on any roadside pit stop, or sit-down restaurant around town. 

4. Zanzibari Mix, AKA, Urojo

The closest East-African relative to the South Asian Aloo Chaat, the Urojo is a must-try snack.
The closest East-African relative to the South Asian Aloo Chaat, the Urojo is a must-try snack.
Salim Nensi

This delicious, all-time favourite street food is packed with flavours and textures from around the world. An amalgamation of crunchy legumes, grains, and topped with creamy chutneys, you can't leave the city without indulging in some Urojo, or Zanzibari Mix. With a mix of Indian, Arab, and African spices, Urojo is deep fried morsels of potato with chickpeas and peanuts. It's served with a layer of boiled potatoes at the bottom of the bowl, that are covered with a smooth coconut sauce, topped with a spoonful of pulpy coconut coriander chutney and a dash of chili sauce.Take a moment to just take all that flavour in! Think of this as an East African version of chana/aloo chat from South Asia. It's a heavy dish, so you may want to share!

Pro-tip: while this delicious snack is available at  almost every restaurant in Dar es Salaam, the tastiest ones are at the smaller inconspicuous street corners! 

5. Madafu/Sugarcane Juice/ Cassata Ice cream

Part of the thrill of having the Juisi ya Miwa (sugarcane juice) is watching how street vendors extract the juice!
Part of the thrill of having the Juisi ya Miwa (sugarcane juice) is watching how street vendors extract the juice!
Adobe Stock

Give your taste buds a break from the spice-filled adventure with a light and refreshing Madafu or pure coconut water. With its sweet and nutty taste, this is a great beverage choice to cool you off. And, if you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, try Juisi ya Miwa, or sugarcane juice, extracted from pressed sugarcane. It's a treat to watch street vendors extract the juice right in front your very eyes! Talk about fresh!  

And if juices won't satisfy that sweet tooth, go for Cassata Ice Cream – a mouth-watering dessert made with fresh cream and a dash of coconut oil, that is frozen to create a small block of the freshest homemade ice cream you will find.

Perfect in moderation, end your meals with Cassata ice cream to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Perfect in moderation, end your meals with Cassata ice cream to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Altaf Daya

 

Edits: Afshan Khoja, Khatidja Gilani & Shahzadi Devje RD CDE MSc