African dishes: 5 delicious traditional Tanzanian foods you should try



Nestled on the East African coast, Tanzania offers a glorious mix of different cultures and people.

This melting pot gives rise to a delicious, varied cuisine you will struggle to find elsewhere.

Here are five dishes you’ll need to keep an eye out for during your time in the country.

1. Ugali (Maize porridge)

Ugali is the most common staple food in Tanzania due to its ease of cooking and affordability. Maize flour and water is cooked slowly until it reaches a dough-like consistency, after which it’s left for a moment to set before being eaten. It is difficult to draw a good comparison, but one could possibly liken it to a cross between polenta and mashed potatoes (maybe).

2. Wali wa Nazi (Coconut rice)

Rice is a staple dish in Tanzania and one of the most delicious iterations is wali wa nazi. It refers to a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and water and seasoned simply with salt. In a sense, you can think of it as the East African version of Malaysian nasi lemak.

3. Irio (Mashed sweet potatoes with corn and peas)

Irio is a dish native to the Kikuyu tribe of Tanzania and central Kenya. It’s a healthy and comforting dish made with mashed potatoes, corn, peas, and greens like watercress or spinach.

Meaning “food” in the Kikuyu language, irio is typically served as a side dish and is equally popular in the cuisines of Kenya and Uganda.

4. Mchuzi wa Biringani (Eggplant curry)

If you don’t have a lot of time, then mchuzi wa biringani is one of the quickest and easiest Tanzanian foods you can make. It consists mainly of eggplant sliced into small pieces and then fried in oil.

Other ingredients used to make mchuzi wa biringani include tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and ginger. Sometimes, chefs may add potatoes as a thickening agent. Dairy or coconut milk can also be added to enhance the flavor and further thicken the broth.

5. Zanzibar Pizza (Tanzanian pizza)

This “pizza” is probably one of the most interesting and delicious things you will eat in Tanzania. It starts out with a sheet of dough which is then filled with onions, peppers, meat, a raw egg and maybe a slice of cheese, all wrapped up into sandwich sized pocket and then placed on the pan to fry in a puddle of oil. What comes out is a crispy, chewy, oversized dumpling-like square of deliciousness. It’s also possible to get dessert versions, such as chocolate and banana.

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