Food in Tanzania

Tanzanian cuisine
Updated 2018-09-03 09:56

Whether you are traveling to Zanzibar or Tanzania's mainland, you will not find a shortage of unique and mouth-watering food that is sure to please any palate. Read on to find out more about the cuisine you will find in Tanzania, as well as how your dietary requirements/restrictions may fare in the country

Note: If you stay at a tourist hotel or resort, it is likely that there will be a blend of both traditional and Western cuisines on offer. In urban areas, you will also find restaurants offering Western foods. It is important to research this before traveling to any country if you have certain dietary restrictions/requirements.

Traditional Dishes

Tanzania's cuisine has been influenced by a variety of cultures and flavours. This has culminated in a cuisine that represents an intersection between Middle Eastern, local African, and Indian flavours and cooking techniques.


With almost any vegetable or protein comes a base of starch. Ugali is the most common starch served in the country. It is a grain starch which is usually made from sorghum flour or cornmeal. This is cooked with water until the point at which it turns into a thick paste. Rice is the second most common, often cooked with additional spices, followed by chapatis (a kind of Indian flatbread).


Beans, as well as a vegetable named mchicha (a dark leafy green similar to spinach), are the two ubiquitous side dishes served throughout the country. The beans are served fairly plain, so as not to overpower the other flavours of the dishes, and the mchicha is fried simply with oil, garlic, tomatoes and onion.


Thereafter one can order a variety of animal-based proteins, ranging from grilled chicken and meat, fried chicken, and grilled or fried fish. Meat stews and curries are also popular, using a special blend of Swahili spices, as well as seafood curries in coastal regions.

If in Zanzibar, the Zanzibar pizza is a must-try. With a thin base, and cooked lightly on a hot plate, these savoury and sweet treats are a delicious (and somewhat healthier) local varietal of the Western pizza. These can be most enjoyed at Forodhani Gardens, where local traders cook in front of you, and you can relax and enjoy the local buzz on a Saturday evening, sitting by the seaside.


With meat being the stable protein of the majority of dishes in African countries, if you are vegetarian or vegan you might be concerned about the choices available to you when visiting Tanzania.

It is true that you will come across many people who simply can't fathom the choice of not eating meat. In many countries across the continent, meat signifies wealth, celebration, and vitality. Without disrespecting a culture's views on the practice, it is possible to find places that too will respect your values and eating preferences.

In the useful links section, there are some ideas.

Useful tips

Any local tea houses - informal eateries that are both indoor and open-air - serve delicious and cheap vegetarian food. These are a particularly a great option for breakfast.

Local markets sell fresh fruit and vegetables aplenty, as well as fire-roasted mielies (corn on the cob) which are vegan-friendly. Stock up here for your vegan goods and get the best prices too.

Useful links:

Pink Pangea
Happy Cow
Traditional Tanzanian food and recipes
Information and photos of Tanzanian foods

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