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
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
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
'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
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
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.
Saira grew up in Morogoro and now lives in Dar es Salaam. She currently work as an Admin & HR Assistant.
Edits: Afshan Khoja, Khatidja Gilani & Shahzadi Devje RD CDE MSc