Tanzania Food: 10 Best Dishes to Try
While Tanzania is most well known for its 21 national parks and Mount. Kilimanjaro, Tanzanian food shouldn’t be overlooked while you’re traveling around this East African country.
Whether you’re on a safari or roaming around Tanzania’s best cities on your own, there are some amazing dishes you need to try before heading back home.
Large cities like Dar Es Salaam and Arusha have a plethora of restaurants making it easy to find local dishes as well as dishes you might find in your home country.
Local food is always cheaper than western cuisine so it’s better for budget travellers. Eating local dishes also allows you to immerse yourself in the culture better!
India has had a large influence on Tanzania's food, so you’ll be able to find many curry dishes and other things local to South Asia.
Whether you’re in Tanzania for a few days or a few months, here are the dishes you have to try!
What is Tanzania's Food Like?
Before heading off to a new country, it’s always a good idea to prepare yourself for what local dishes are like. This way, you know what to expect and you know all the best cuisine to try.
If you’re nervous about eating in Tanzania, don’t be! The local dishes are beautifully prepared with many different spices and flavors.
Many of the local meals are also vegetarian and vegan friendly as they consist of vegetables, curries, and beans.
Tanzanian cuisine is very diverse. You will also find different dishes from region to region. Some dishes are spicy, but most of the food is prepared with common spices like cinnamon, ginger, coriander and coconut milk.
Rice and ugali are the main foods. Common vegetables include cassava leaves, spinach, and okra. Amaranth leaves and other bitter greens are also common and served with ugali and meat.
Ugali is one of the most well-known dishes in Tanzania. Many Tanzanian people eat it several times a week with soup, vegetables, or beans.
It’s prepared by mixing flour with hot water until it becomes stiff. It’s mostly made with maize flour but you can also find it made with sorghum or millet flour.
Ugali is very affordable and it’s a high-energy food. It’s served in many local schools for lunch and dinner. If you’ve been to Kenya, you might have tried Ugali before as it’s a popular dish there too.
2. Zanzibar Pizza
If you’re heading to Zanzibar, make sure you try the pizza! It’s a common dish for tourists as well as locals. It’s different from many of the other local dishes but still very different from the pizza you might have in your home country.
It’s made with wheat flour, vegetables, and meat. The meat is spiced and then used as a filling with cheese and vegetables. The sides of the flour are then folded up and cooked with ghee.
Most places will serve the pizza with mango chili sauce or another form of hot sauce.
Mandazi is usually served as a snack food, but you can still it at main meals with other dishes. Most Tanzanians eat it with tea or porridge.
It’s made with wheat flour, eggs, sugar, and milk. Once the dough is formed, it’s cut into spheres or triangles and then deep-fried until crispy.
4. Chipsi Mayai
This dish is a beloved favorite amongst safari travellers and other people who visit Tanzania. It’s made with chips (french fries) and eggs. It’s similar to an omelette with chips inside.
Most places only use chips and eggs, but some places will add tomatoes and bell peppers into the egg mixture.
Many local restaurants serve chipsi mayai. It’s also a common street food in Tanzania and is one of the most popular late-night dishes.
You can find mshikaki from many different street food vendors. It’s marinated meat that’s cooked on a skewer stick. It’s cooked with all the herbs and spices that are native to Tanzania and Zanzibar making it one of the best dishes to try if you’re interested in local spices.
The most common meats are beef, goat, and mutton. It’s most often served in the evening with a few sauces on the side.
This is a great healthy dish as it has carbs, protein, and vegetables. It’s most commonly made with potatoes, carrots, bananas, tomatoes, cabbage, green beans, and eggplant. The vegetables are boiled and simmered with many different spices and herbs.
Once the vegetables have been boiled, most restaurants will add meat or fish. It’s a great meal to eat on colder nights.
It’s more expensive than other dishes since it has a wide variety of ingredients. Most travellers still find it very affordable though.
7. Ndizi Na Nyama
One of the most common dishes in Tanzania, this is a great local dish to try. Ndizi means banana and is the main ingredient in the dish. The plantains and meat are boiled and then curry powder is added.
Local fresh vegetables are also cooked with this dish including onions, tomatoes, and tomato paste. In the end, the cook will add cayenne pepper and coconut milk to make a stew.
It’s all simmered together for a few minutes and then served with ugali or rice.
8. Wali Wa Nazi
If you’re a rice lover, this is a special dish to try. The rice is cooked in coconut milk and water to give it a little extra flavor. The result is super creamy rice.
It’s served with other local dishes like curry, meat, fish, and chicken.
Wali Wa Nazi is found throughout East Africa. So, if you end up loving it as much as Tanzanians, you can also find while travelling in Uganda and Kenya.
9. Wali Na Maharage
This popular beans and rice dish is eaten for dinner throughout Tanzanian households. You will also find it served at ceremonies or holidays in Tanzania.
The beans are cooked first and then added to the rice so everything is cooked together. It’s a simple dish as it’s only cooked with oil and salt.
You might also find the beans served separately and cooked with onions, carrots, green peppers, tomatoes, and many different spices.
10. Sukuma Wiki
If you’ve found you love ugali, make sure to order this dish as it’s commonly served with ugali. Sukuma is similar to collard greens. They’re cooked with onions, coriander, tomatoes, and cumin.
Sukuma is one of the most affordable dishes you’ll find in the country. You can always order meat on the side if you want something a little more filling, but Sukuma Wiki is perfect just with ugali.
Ready to try all the best dishes in Tanzania? These 10 local cuisines and many others are often cooked for you by specially trained chefs when you take a Tanzania safari.
The best part is many of these dishes are easy to make at home with the right spices and ingredients. You can continue to make them for yourself long after you leave Tanzania!