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Tanzania’s Street Food – Ultimate Guide

Tanzania in East Africa offers a wonderful blend of cultures. The indigenous Bantu people, Arab and Indian traders, and Europeans, all bring their use of special spices and ingredients, making for yummy street food. From wonderful omelettes with a special touch of pizzaz prepared fresh on the streets to yummy desserts also fried fresh on the streets, it’s easy to forget about eating meals at restaurants entirely in Tanzania. And you can make these without leaving home.

Chips Mayai or Chips and Eggs

Chips and eggs or “chips mayai” in Swahili is a vegetable omelette cooked with made from scratch fully-friend, crispy French fries. The omelette comes with a side of fresh vegetables and ketchup or tamarind sauce.

Mishkaki or Grilled Meat Skewers

Grilled meat skewers or “mishkaki” is marinated meat such as beef, chicken or lamb which is slowly grilled on skewers over an open coal fire. What differentiates it is the marinade which comprises a garlic and ginger paste, the Indian spice mixture known as garam masala, black pepper, turmeric, chilli flakes, lemon juice, and salt. The marinade is made to sit for six to eight hours before it is grilled. The colours of the turmeric and chilli flakes are a delight for the senses. Mishkaki can be eaten with tamarind sauce.

Urojo Soup or Zanzibar Mix

Zanzibar Mix or “urojo” soup is a delightful mix of fresh vegetables, deep-fried potato balls, deep-fried grits, and grilled meat in a spicy soup made of white flour, boiled potatoes, ginger, turmeric, lemon sauce, chilli paste, and salt.

Zanzibar Pizza

Zanzibar Pizza is made of a thin sheet of unleavened dough filled with a mixture of finely diced meat or seafood, finely diced vegetables, cream cheese, eggs and mayonnaise. You can use chicken, beef, lamb or seafood. The vegetables include carrots, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers. Salt, ginger or other spices can be added. The wrap is then shallow-fried.

To make a sweet pizza, you can use bananas, chocolate spread, mangoes, peanut butter or my personal favourite, Nutella!

Spicy Muhogo or Cassava Fritters

Cassava Fritters or “muhogo” in Swahili, is simply deep-fried cassava with spices. You will first need to soften the cassava by boiling it until it’s soft enough to easily bite into, but not soft like mashed potatoes. Deep fry the softened cassava and then mix in salt, lemon juice, garlic, and chilli powder.

Mandazi or Half-Cakes

Half-cakes or “mandazi” in Swahili are the Tanzanian version of beignets. Eat them fresh out of the fryer on the streets of Tanzania. The unique spice that is used in mandazi is cardamom. You can also add vanilla extract, orange peel or lemon peel if you prefer. A slightly sticky dough is made from all-purpose flour, instant yeast, sugar, baking powder, ground cardamom, and salt. Milk, butter, and eggs are also added to the dough to increase its softness. Once the flour rises, it is cut into pieces and deep-fried. You want to make sure that the pieces are not too thick nor too thin, so they will cook fully, without charring. Dry out the excess oil with paper towels and immediately sprinkle powdered sugar while the mandazis are hot, so the sugar sticks to the mandazis.

Vitumbua or Rice Doughnuts

Rice doughnuts or “vitumbua” are made of sweetened rice. Wash white rice and soak it overnight so it softens. In a blender, blend it with sugar, cardamom powder, yeast, and coconut milk. The “milkshake” like dough is then poured into an aebleskiver pan and fried.

Tanzania’s lively street-food scene is thriving on the streets of Arusha, the gateway city to Tanzania’s north-central wildlife parks and Mount Kilimanjaro. Dar es Salaam, the capital city is of course among the best places to eat Tanzania’s street food. Dar es Salaam is the gateway to Tanzania’s southern wildlife parks. And the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town on Zanzibar Island hums with markets and street food stalls. Zanzibar Island offers white-sand beaches, snorkeling with dolphins, and lots of villages waiting to be explored.

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