Food in Tanzania

What horrible things would you do for a burrito right now? Questions about food – Is Tanzanian food surprisingly good or awful? What types of food do you fantasize about most? How can you combine Tanzanian foods with care package spices and sauces to make new delicacies? – dominate much of the PC’s discussion here. To give you all a little flavor of our experience, I thought I would describe the staple Tanzanian dishes.



Ugali – a thick paste made from only two ingredients, maize flour and water, and eaten with the hands – is the cliché Tanzanian dish. Tanzanian men can eat legendary quantities of it that leave the rest of us awestruck.


Chapati and Chai


Chapati and Chai is the typical Tanzanian breakfast, composed of a fried wheat pancake and a mug of gingery tea, which generally has either no sugar or, alternatively, tons of sugar. Most PCs love chapati, and fill it with bananas, vegetables, or best of all, Nutella, to make a morning treat.


Wali Maharagwe (rice and beans)


Rice and beans is the non-ugali option at most restaurants, and most of the PCs prefer it (including me – it is quite good). However, some sort of oil is used in cooking the rice that will give you serious stomach problems if you eat too much.


Chipsi Mayai

Chips Mayai

The most decadent Tanzanian dish, Chips Mayei, is made by frying French fries (“chipsi”) in a pan with oil, and then pouring scrambled eggs into the pan and grilling the mixture into a circular, flat cake. Alena has one above, along with a Fanta; the Coca Cola family of sodas are ubiquitous across Tanzania.


Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Mango, cucumber, Green peppers

Working in a major agricultural market, Alena and I are very lucky to have access to great fresh fruits and vegetables every day. This is particularly lucky because the food we get at local restaurants is generally not that healthy (and I like it a lot, unfortunately).


Western Luxuries and Delights

2013-01-21 08.12.15

From time to time, we go to Ex-Pat restaurants that serve expensive food that most Tanzanians can’t afford (and in some cases wouldn’t like. For example, pasta with tomato sauce and vegetables is considered gross. Pasta is normally cooked with sugar and oil). Above, the Bombo Majimoto PCs sit down to the brunch buffet at the Serena Hotel during a trip to Dar. Most of the village PCs only get Western food once every month or two, and generally lose their minds at the site of, say, pizza or Chinese food. Alena and I are, well, often the enablers of this kind of thing.

Hope you are all doing well! Happy Valentines Day everyone,



About Sam Steyer

Head of Analytics, Station A
This entry was posted in Team 2012-2013 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Food in Tanzania

  1. Johnson Kathleen Minadeo says:

    Sam, Come to DC when you and Alena are finished with your tour and we can make sure you get a good homemade Italian pasta dish. Kathy Johnson, Alena’s aunt and wife of Eric.

  2. kat taylor says:

    seems especially decadent to have dined at the Tonga Room for Valentine’s Day… xomom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s