Tanzania's Traditional Cuisine: Local Dishes, Restaurants & Recipes

Tanzania's Traditional Cuisine: Local Dishes, Restaurants & Recipes

Tanzania's Traditional Cuisine: Local Dishes, Restaurants & Recipes

Tanzania, located in East Africa, is a country known for its rich cultural heritage and diverse culinary traditions. The country's cuisine reflects the influences of Arab, Indian, and African flavors, creating a unique and vibrant food culture. From hearty stews to mouthwatering street food, Tanzanian cuisine offers a delightful culinary experience. Let's take a closer look at some traditional dishes, recommended restaurants, and even a recipe you can try at home.

Traditional Dishes

Tanzanian cuisine is characterized by the use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients, such as grains, vegetables, fruits, and a variety of meats. Here are a few must-try dishes when visiting Tanzania:

  • Ugali: This staple dish is made from maize flour and water, cooked until it reaches a thick consistency. It is typically served with a flavorful sauce or stew.
  • Pilau: A fragrant and spiced rice dish that is often prepared with meat, vegetables, and a variety of spices, including cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves.
  • Chapati: This unleavened flatbread is similar to Indian roti and is commonly served with curries or enjoyed on its own.
  • Nyama Choma: Translating to "grilled meat," Nyama Choma is a popular dish consisting of barbecued meat, often goat or beef, seasoned with spices and served with a side of vegetables or Ugali.
  • Mishkaki: These flavorful skewers are made from marinated chunks of meat, typically beef or chicken, grilled to perfection and often served as street food.
  • Mandazi: A popular Tanzanian snack, Mandazi is a sweet, fried doughnut-like pastry made from flour, coconut milk, sugar, and spices. It is perfect for enjoying with a cup of tea or coffee.


When visiting Tanzania, indulge in the vibrant flavors of the local cuisine at one of the country's many excellent restaurants. Here are a few must-visit culinary destinations:

Karambezi Café, Dar es Salaam

Located in the heart of Dar es Salaam, Karambezi Café offers a stunning panoramic view of the Indian Ocean. The restaurant serves a mix of international dishes and local favorites such as grilled seafood and traditional Tanzanian stews.

Emerson Spice, Stone Town

Situated in the historic Stone Town of Zanzibar, Emerson Spice is a renowned restaurant that specializes in Zanzibari and Swahili cuisine. With its elegant rooftop setting and flavorful dishes like Pilau and Zanzibari Biryani, this restaurant is a must-visit for food enthusiasts.

Mama Africa, Arusha

In the bustling city of Arusha, Mama Africa offers a vibrant dining experience with live music and a menu filled with Tanzanian specialties. From Nyama Choma to traditional Tanzanian stews, Mama Africa serves up an array of delicious dishes.

Recipe: Coconut Bean Soup

If you want to recreate the flavors of Tanzania in your own kitchen, try this recipe for Coconut Bean Soup:

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of red kidney beans
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Instructions:
  1. Soak the kidney beans overnight, then drain and rinse them.
  2. In a large pot, sauté the diced onion and minced garlic in vegetable oil until they become translucent.
  3. Add the kidney beans to the pot, along with the coconut milk, vegetable broth, curry powder, turmeric, salt, and pepper.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beans are tender.
  5. Using a blender or immersion blender, puree half of the soup to create a creamy texture while leaving some beans whole.
  6. Adjust the seasoning to taste and serve hot.

Enjoy this comforting Coconut Bean Soup as a taste of Tanzania from the comfort of your own home.