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Local Cuisine

Tanzania spicesZanzibar rightfully earned its nickname the ‘Spice Island’. Many of the spices found on the island are used in traditional Tanzanian dishes and are combined with meat or fish and a vegetable sauce, usually featuring coconut milk, to create one of the many delicious local dishes. A maize flour based food called Ugali, a sort of solidified porridge, is often served alongside meals. Eaten with the hands (or rather, the right hand), it is worked into bite-size balls so that it can be dipped in the sauces and used to scoop up meat and vegetables. Rice is also ubiquitous, with pilau dishes (a main dish of spiced rice and stewed meat or vegetables) served everywhere from local huts to high-end town restaurants.

Throughout Tanzania, fresh fruits and vegetables grow in abundance. Coconuts (both young, for drinking, and old, for eating), mango, avocado, pineapple, papaya, watermelon, limes and mandarins are sold everywhere, from the largest market to the smallest roadside street stall. Many sellers will approach on carts, especially if you travel by coach, and offer you large bunches of bananas or bags of manadarins through the windows. Others will be selling pistachios, biscuits and cans of soda. Pumpkin, avodado, tomato, marrow, carrot, onions and garlic all feature heavily in local savoury dishes, along with (perhaps surprisingly) bananas. Banana and beef curry is a common dish, with the bananas taking on a potato-like taste and texture during the cooking process.

You will struggle to find places serving pork in some Tanzanian areas, especially Zanzibar and the coast, as there is little to no demand from the primarily Muslim inhabitants.

Some delicious jams and honeys are produced in Tanzania. Whilst many locally sold jams tend to be very high in sugar, it is possible to find some high-fruit content pineapple and mango jams – delicious on bread in the morning! The range of honeys available is astounding, from Kilimanjaro honey, to forest and blossom blends.

Tanzania is home to some great locally brewed beers, all of which have difference tastes and strengths. You may wish to try out a few whilst on safari, and choose your favourite from Ndovu, Safari, Serengeti and Kilimanjaro. Tusker, a light Kenyan beer, is also widely available. Konyagi, a liqueur, is always popular amongst local Tanzanians. Similar to gin, this refreshing drink can indeed be enjoyed with a tonic water, but it usually consumed straight or with a little squeeze of lime.

Water bottleIt is important to keep hydrated whilst under the heat of the African sun all day. Drinking the tap water in Tanzania can unsettle your stomach, as your body won’t be used to how the water is treated. However, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding bottled water. Always ensure that the seal is unbroken prior to your purchasing.