Swahili Cuisine Guide

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The Swahili cuisine is a wonderful blend of Indian, Arab and Portuguese food. As different tribes and civilizations settled in Tanzania over the years, they influenced the local food. The Swahili cuisine is filled with spices like coriander, clove and chili. The staples include maize, rice, sorghum, cassava, and wheat.

Here are some of the top must-try Swahili foods:


  • Nyama choma

Nyama choma consists of charred meat that could be made of beef, chicken or mutton. The meat is marinated with garlic, curry powder, lemon juice and turmeric. Then, it’s roasted over coals until it gets tender. It’s one of the top dishes enjoyed by the Tanzanians. You can find it everywhere – from street-food stalls to fancy restaurants.


  • Swahili Beans

If you’re a vegetarian, you need to try Swahili beans! These are very versatile and can be cooked to produce a sweet or savoury meal. Traditionally, the beans are sauteed with ginger, onions, coconut milk and tomatoes.

  • Pilau

Pilau is enjoyed in many different parts of the world, but the Swahili version that’s famous in Tanzania consists of spices from Spice Island – that is, Zanzibar. Swahili pilau is a tantalizing rice dish that will leave you asking for more.


  • Chipsi mayai

Chipsi mayai is more of a fast food than a main dish. It consists of sautéed potatoes mixed with eggs. Of course, the egg contains spices! This wonderful blend of eggs and potatoes makes for a great breakfast dish.


  • Ndizi na nyama

Ndizi na nyama is a dish that contains meat and banana! That’s right – it’s time to go bananas with this dish. For a lot of you, fruits and meats might not sound great together, but you need to think again after tasting this delicious meal.

  • Ugali

Ugali consists of either cornmeal, sorghum flour or semolina, combined with water. It’s a popular staple that’s eaten with different sides because its ingredients are cheap and easily available.


Swahili Drinks

Tea (masala chai) and coffee are popular drinks that are enjoyed by the locals. Other drinks include pineapple, orange and sugar cane juices. You’ll also find all kinds of local beer here – Kilimanjaro, Tusker and Serengeti.

Alcohol is only sold at popular tourist spots in Zanzibar.



So, what are you waiting for? Head over to Tanzania and have a great time enjoying local Swahili food – a delicious blend of spices and Arab, Indian and Portuguese dishes. You’ll remember the food long after your vacation is over!

Don’t forget to check out this Guide on Flying in East Africa while you’re there! It will make your trips a lot easier.

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