I thought I would see if I could find out a bit more about the culinary heritage of Tanzania.
As you would expect the cuisine varies with the geography. In the inland savannah, the traditional cuisine of cattle-keeping people is distinctive in that meat products are generally absent. Cattle, sheep and goats were regarded as a form of currency and a store of wealth, and are not generally consumed as food. In some areas, traditional people consume the milk and blood of cattle, but rarely the meat.
Elsewhere, other people are farmers who grow a variety of grains and vegetables. Corn is the basis of ugali, a starch dish eaten with meats or stews.
Around 1000 years ago, the Arabs settled in the coastal areas of East Africa, and Arabic influences are reflected in the Swahili cuisine of the coast – steamed cooked rice with spices in Persian style, use of saffron, cloves, cinnamon and several other spices, and pomegranate juice.
Several centuries later, the British and the Indians came, and both brought with them their foods, like Indian spiced vegetable curries, lentil soups, chapattis and a variety of pickles. Just before the British and the Indians, the Portuguese had introduced techniques of roasting and marinating, and the use of spices, turning the bland diet into aromatic stewed dishes.
Portuguese also brought from their Asian colonies fruits like the orange, lemon and lime. From their colonies in the New World, Portuguese brought exotic items like chiles, peppers, maize, tomatoes, pineapple, bananas, and the domestic pig – now, all these are part of East African food.
Here is something you might like to try yourself.
Spinach with peanut sauce
1 medium onion, diced
180 ml water
2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 lbs spinach, roughly chopped
1 pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or more if you prefer a more spicy dish)
2 teaspoons honey
- brown off the onions in oil in a sauce pan on medium heat.
- add the water and peanut butter on a low heat, stir until dissolved and simmer for a few minutes.
- add salt, honey, chilli pepper and tomatoes, stir together.
- add the spinach on top and put a lid on, leave for approx 5 minute.
- stir everything together, cook a further 5 minute.
- serve with rice.