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Food in Tanzania

The native cuisine of Tanzania is as varied as its multi-ethnic population. But certain cereals are common staples for the entire population at large. Starch based cereals like millet, sorghum and cornmeal dishes are eaten as the main dish and may be either ‘irio’, which is made from corn (maize), beans or dried chick peas and potatoes, all mashed and cooked together or ‘ugali’, the Swahili name for the stiff corn meal mush. Raw and ripe plantains too are served as starchy base ingredients in stews.

The Masai tribesmen are pastoral and so will not eat the cattle, sheep and goats that they rear but live on milk and cattle blood. Immigrants from Arabia influenced the food habits of the native population of Zanzibar and left behind many pilaf dishes, rice cooked with aromatic spices- cinnamon, cloves, saffron, meats, fruits pomegranate juice. The Indian settlers brought with them their curries and wheat flour breads. The British too added their own dishes including grilled meats, boiled vegetable and meat stews.

The local diet can be interesting and most definitely for the adventurous palate - East African cuisine is famous for dishes containing a variety of insects. Locusts, grasshoppers and flying ants are trapped as they swarm, then are either fried or sun dried. Termites are another delicacy and the queen termite is much sought after delicacy, as are caterpillars and lake flies. But thankfully, for the squeamish, plenty on international cuisines are available in Tanzania and wonderful dishes are created using the delicious seafood from the coast, spices and tropical fruits from the islands and game from the inland plains.

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Vidastu, our driver had a long scar on his cheek signifying that he belonged to a particular tribe. In his ...

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