10 Favourite Foods of Tanzania

10 Favourite Foods of Tanzania

According to history, the early humans who dwelled in Tanzania were hunters and gatherers. By 500 A.D, native dwellers had begun to grow grains such as millet, sorghum, as well as vegetable and fruit crops. In 800 A.D, citrus fruits and commercial crops had been brought into the region by Muslim travellers. Recipes were created and passed down from generation to generation; then enjoyed by visitors and food lovers who came into the country to learn about the delicious foods made by denizens. There are also hints of Portuguese influence on Tanzanian and Eastern Africa cuisine.

Below is a curated list of some of the most loved foods of Tanzania.


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Ugali (pronounced oo-ga-ly) is the staple starch component of many meals in Tanzania and Eastern Africa. Called sima, obokima, dona, kaunga, sembe, posho or obusuma in different regions, this meal is usually made from maize, millet or sorghum flour. Ugali is mixed with water and cooked into a dough-like consistency, which is then dipped into other dishes while eating, such as green vegetable sauces or meat stews, beans and fish-based stews.
The word “ugali” is a Bantu term derived from Swahili. In parts of Tanzania, ugali is called nguna, the informal street name of the dish. Considered Tanzania’s national dish, ugali is considered well-prepared when it is neither too dry nor sticky.

Nyama Choma

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Nyama choma, which is Swahili for grilled meat, is one of the finest delicacies of Tanzania and Eastern Africa. Always eaten with hands, nyama choma is often accompanied with side dishes like ugali and kachumbari salad. It is believed among residents that the grilled meat is a kind of social lubricant capable of turning strangers into friends and friends into closer companions. Freshly slaughtered goat meat, chicken or beef is often used to prepare nyama choma; with whole legs or shoulders grilled on a metal fencing, which is then laid on a bed of charcoal (local grill) until tender enough to eat. Short ribs, spare ribs and offals are often used, as well and seasoned with salt, pepper, minced onions, garlic, ground ginger and a little lemon juice.


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An original dish from West India, but now extremely popular in coastal Tanzania, pilau is made with rice, spices and meat and is often consumed during holiday and religious celebrations, as well as on weekends. It is prepared using a large frying pan or a shallow and broad pot. This helps to keep the rice for the pilau non-sticky. The rice dish is often prepared in stock (cooked liquid residue from meats and poultry) with hard-boiled eggs, fish or meat. Kachumbari (a vegetable salad consisting of chopped tomatoes, onions and chilli peppers) often complements this dish.

Wali wa Nazi

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A common favourite especially among members of the Swahili community living along the coast of the Indian Ocean; wali wa nazi, rice made with coconut milk is a creamy and highly delicious meal that can be served with meats, curries, poultry and fish-based sauces.


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A dish made up of peanut butter, spinach and tomatoes, makubi is a balanced diet reputed to fight against many dietary illnesses.


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Translated to mean trouper, mchemsho is a special dish that is native to the northern region. It is said to be quite expensive to make, compared to other meals, due to the number of ingredients required. These ingredients often include potatoes, green beans, carrots, cabbage, sweet pepper, tomatoes, eggplant, and bananas. They can also be complemented with fish or meats to make for a richer meal.

Ndizi Nyama

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Ndizi nyama is a stew made with green bananas, carrots, sweet pepper, ladies fingers, bitter tomatoes, onions, and meat or fish. It can be served with ugali or rice.


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Chapati is a traditional Tanzanian meal similar to Indian flatbreads. It is made with a flour dough, wound into a coil then rolled into a flat round circle. The dough is fried in a skillet accompanied by plenty of oil so it becomes crispy on the edges but remains moist and doughy on the interior. No baking powder or yeast is added. This meal is considered as a treat and is quite popular among children. Chapati goes well with fried cabbage, beans, and tea.

Wali na Maharage

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A dish made with rice and beans, Wali na Maharage is eaten with vegetables, meat or fish. The rice in Wali na Maharage is cooked with the oil or milk of coconuts and flavoured with spices like cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves.

Supu ya Ndizi

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Supu ya Ndizi soup is made by pounding plantains into a paste, which is then cooked in chicken stock and seasoned with pinches of salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious and filling, this plantain soup is a favourite among the locals.

So, that ends our list of the 10 best-loved foods in Tanzania. Healthy, satisfying and delicious. Please tell us if your favourite did not make the list?

Omachona Eguda holds a Bachelor's degree in mass communication from the University of Benin and is at an advanced stage of her postgraduate studies in communications and language arts at the University of Ibadan. She is a writer, poet, journalist, and works as a digital and media strategist at one of Nigeria's leading advertising firms.

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