This unique, polenta-like side dish is a Tanzanian favorite, traditionally served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Made by rolling a tiny bit of creamy, thick cornmeal paste (made from cooked white maize) in a hand until it forms into a ball, and making an indentation in it with a thumb, ugali becomes an edible spoon that is often dipped into various stews and sauces.
The sign of a good ugali is that it doesn’t stick to your fingers. The whole thing is usually dipped in a savory sauce, then placed in the mouth for consumption. Ugali is more than just a taste, it is a food culture in itself. This dish is usually served with whatever meat is available, mashed vegetables, stews, or sour milk.
Mchicha is the most popular Tanzanian dish. This thick and creamy vegetarian meal is usually prepared with leafy vegetables such as amaranth or spinach with added grated coconut, coconut milk, peanut butter, tomatoes, and onions. It is recommended to serve mchicha with rice, ugali, or samp and beans on the side in order to make a satisfying main course.
The name of this popular Tanzanian and Kenyan street food dish, mshikaki, refers to skewered pieces of marinated meat such as beef, goat, or mutton that is slowly cooked over hot coals. The meat is marinated in a combination of various herbs and spices that are popular along Africa’s eastern coast.
The dish is most often enjoyed after dusk, when the vendors start to sell mshikaki at their stalls, and it is said to taste even better when accompanied by sauces or dips on the side.
This African snack is very popular in countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. The dough is made with sugar, flour, water, yeast, and milk or coconut milk. It can be additionally enriched with ingredients such as ground peanuts or almonds.
After the dough has been shaped into triangles, circles, or ovals, it is fried in hot oil. Mandazi can be served for breakfast with tea, as a tasty appetizer before lunch, or even as a late-night snack. It is often served with fruit-flavored dips, but when served as a dessert, mandazi is typically dusted with powdered sugar or cinnamon in order to add some sweetness to it.
Mchemsho is a traditional dish from Northern Tanzania consisting of numerous ingredients such as potatoes, green beans, carrots, bananas, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant, sweet peppers, and a variety of spices. The name of the dish can be translated as something that is boiled.
The vegetables are combined with meat or fish in order to make a full meal. In Tanzania, mchemsho is considered a special dish made for special occasions, since it is quite expensive compared to other dishes in the country.
06. Ndizi Nyama
Ndizi na nyama is a popular Tanzanian dish using plantains or bananas (ndizi) and meat (nyama) as the main ingredients. Apart from those, the stew is made with curry powder, cayenne pepper, oil, onions, tomatoes, tomato paste, and coconut milk.
The combination is simmered for a short time, and ndizi na nyama is then ready to be served, preferably with rice or ugali on the side.
07. Chips Mayai
Chipsi mayai or chips and eggs is a staple of Tanzanian street food. French fries are combined with eggs to make a dish that is similar to an omelet with fries dispersed throughout it. Alternatively, the dish can be made with additional ingredients such as bell peppers or onions.
It is typically served with kachumbari sauce on the side, consisting of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions. If you are ever in Tanzania and see a big black wok filled with bubbling yellow oil in front of a restaurant, it is a pretty sure sign that the restaurant serves chips mayai.
08. Wali Nazi
Wali wa nazi is a starchy side dish consisting of rice cooked in a combination of coconut milk and water. It is usually seasoned only with salt. This creamy dish is usually served as an accompaniment to various curries or chicken, fish, and meat dishes.
It is a favorite amongst the Swahili people of East Africa, notably in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.
09. Mchuzi Samaki
Mchuzi wa samaki is a Swahili dish consisting of fish that is cooked in a combination of onions, oil, garlic, curry powder, tomatoes, water, and lemon juice. The dish is often additionally flavored with freshly chopped coriander. After it has been properly prepared, mchuzi wa samaki is typically served hot with fluffy white rice on the side, ideally complementing the spicy, full-bodied sauce.
As for the fish, any white fish will do – be it sea bass, cod, or red snapper.
10. Zanzibar Pizza
Although it shares the name with the traditional Italian dish, this version from Zanzibar does not have much in common with Italian pizza. It is made unleavened dough that is stretched thin and filled with various ingredients. When filled, the sides are wrapped, and this pancake-like creation is then fried in ghee until it is golden and crispy.
The combination of ingredients in the filling may include anything from meat such as beef or chicken, seafood, various vegetables, cheese, mayonnaise, or eggs. Sweet versions often consist of different combinations of bananas, chocolate spread, mangoes, or peanut butter.