Tanzania is a very diverse East African country, formed by the union of Tanganyika on the mainland with the island of Zanzibar. Tanganyika united with Zanzibar in 1964, forming the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which later the same year was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania.
It is a Swahili country and like many East African nations shows strong Indian and Arabic influences in its cuisine. Thus curries and pilaus are common as are flavouring more typically associated with North Africa.
Fish is an important part of the diet, both on the island of Zanzibar (as might be expected) but also on the mainland with its sea cost on one side and the African Great Lakes on the other.
The cuisine of Zanzibar is probably the most familiar and the most diverse and, unusually, for many African countries the island has a strong tradition of dessert and pastry making.
The following are two typical Tanzanian recipes for you to make yourselves:
Mchuzi wa Samaki (Fish Curry)
1.5kg firm white-fleshed fish, filleted and cut into serving portions
oil for frying
450ml coconut milk
1 large onion, chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 green bell peppers, de-seeded and chopped
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Garam Masala
tamarind paste, to taste
salt to taste
Briefly sear the fish in hot oil, so that the outside is coloured but the fish is still raw inside. Transfer the fish to a saucepan cover with the coconut milk and add the tamarind paste to taste then set aside.
Stir together the onion, tomatoes, green pepper, garlic and spices and add to the fish and coconut milk. Place on low heat and simmer slowly until the fish is fully cooked and the sauce has thickened. Serve immediately with Chapati or Rice.
By substituting prawns for the fish you can make Mchuzi wa Kamba (Prawn Curry), you just don't need to fry the prawns beforehand.
Baked Green Bananas in Orange Syrup
120ml orange juice
2 green, not quite ripe, bananas
80g light brown sugar
pinch of ground cardamom
3 tbsp lemon juice
Combine the orange juice, sugar and cardamon in a small pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the bananas and cut in half lengthways. Cut each half in half crossways so that you have four pieces. Place in a gratin or earthenware dish with cut sides up and brush with the lemon juice.
Pour the orange syrup over the bananas and place in an oven pre-heated to 170?C, baking for 10 miutes. Spoon the syrup over the bananas and serve immediately.
I hope that these recipes have given you a taste for Tanzanian (and East African) cookery and that you are now eager to find out more about this exciting cuisine…