Tanzanian street food – all you need to know

Tanzania has a very rich diversity when it comes down to food. Influenced by years of trading between cultures, the cuisine has been shaped into what it is today. For visitors to Tanzania it is quite normal to see small food stands everywhere. Some start up only at night and some trade only in the daytime. Many people wonder what they offer at these fast food places.

Breakfast:  The most common choices include local spiced tea with ginger, chapattis (local flat bread), soup (all meats, bananas), eggs, sweet potatoes, mandazi (a sweet donut) and beans.

Lunch: Of course a lot of people have time to cook lunch at home but for those in a rush there is always something available on the street. There are always women we call ‘mama lishe” which means something like ‘the mama who feeds’. They serve simple street food such as rice with fish, meat or beans. It is also common to find samoosas (triangle shaped pastries with minced meat or vegetable), kababu (minced meat sausage) and egg chops (a whole egg covered in mashed potato). You will often see young men walking around with boiled eggs which are peeled on request!

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Dinner: At night a lot of people set up small roadside stands offering delicacies like grilled meat skewers and chipsi mayai. This specialty is basically just chips with egg – cheap and satisfying. Fried cassava, grilled bananas and Zanzibar pizzas (minced meat in a kind of pastry wrap) is also common fare.

Popular snack food found during the day includes maize cobs, grilled or fried cassava and grilled sweet potatoes. Unfortunately many who travel in Tanzania don’t often try the local cuisine. The reasons could be concerns about catching a stomach bug or that food might not have been prepared in a hygienic environment. So it is best to choose a stall where lots of local people are eating.

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All in all it is recommended to all visitors in Tanzania to stop off at the many food vendors to get a real taste of the local cuisine. Restaurants are available everywhere but nothing beats the experience of real Tanzanian street food.