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Street Food Stand in Buza / Dar es Salaam

Street Food in Tanzania – You Have to Try the 5 Best!

Can you imagine traveling without trying street food? We don’t. We love to snack & try new treats. Many commuters also depend on the snacks of street vendors.

UnboxingTanzania introduces you to our five absolute favorites of street food in Dar es Salaam. Careful, this article whets your appetite.

Street Food – Breakfast

Did you know that there are at least three expressions for breakfast in Swahili:

  • Chakula cha Asubuhi    – the food of the morning
  • Kifungua Kinywa             – literally “opening your mouth”
  • Chai                                   – literally tea     

And of course, there are also breakfast snacks at the street vendors.


A special treat for us. A day that starts with coffee and fresh Mandazis is a good day. Mandazis are delicious dumplings, a kind of breakfast donut. Unlike most donuts, the sweetness is rather subtle. Often the ingredients such as flour, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, and baking powder are refined with spices such as cardamom or cinnamon. This tastes particularly good to us.

The ingredients are kneaded well. The dough is rolled out and shaped in various ways. Then they are fried in a steel pan over an open fire. The treat is then skillfully skewered with a metal stick and sold in bags.

The fluffy dough, the very light sweetness, the delicious frying aromas, and the light note of the spices used, make the Mandazis the perfect breakfast snack in Tanzania.


Make sure you buy the Mandazis freshly fried. So, rather at a stand where they are freshly made and not by a street vendor. Then they are the tastiest.

Triangle shaped mandazis
Triangle shaped Mandazis


Chapati is another delicacy we love. This flatbread has its origin in Indian cuisine. Chapati in Tanzania has several layers. This is due to a certain way of folding the dough. In addition, wheat flour is used instead of atta flour (whole grain). Other ingredients are sugar, salt, oil, and warm water.

We have already made chapatis ourselves. That was a lot of fun. First, mix the ingredients well, and then let the dough rest for a while. We use the time to heat the charcoal stove. After that, all we had to do was portion the dough, roll it out and then fold it. Roll out the dough one last time and fry on the warmer until golden brown.

All the effort was worth it. The chapatis taste simply delicious. These flatbreads do not have an intense taste of their own and are a perfect side dish. Most of the time, chapatis are eaten just like that with a cup of tea or coffee for breakfast.


In Tanzania, there is a second type of chapati, much like pancakes. However, the liquidly dough does not contain milk. These chapatis are also delicious. But we prefer the chapatis with the different layers.

Both versions of chapatis are eaten with the fingers. The Tanzanians know the art of pulling bite-sized pieces with just one hand (the right). We haven’t quite figured that out yet, but it’s still delicious.


You can bake chapatis yourself. In the street shops, you can buy a set for it – a raised, round wooden pad and a rolling pin.

Street Food – Savoury

Wali wa Marahage

This is a delicious rice dish with beans. The rice is served on the plate and the beans are in a small bowl. The beans are soaked in water for about 30 hours and then cooked for another 1-2 hours. The bean stew often also contains onions, carrots, and peppers. The long cooking makes the dish creamy -yummy. The fresh vegetables taste wonderfully intense, certainly also because they are grown locally, and only seasonal vegetables are used. 


We like it a bit hotter. That’s why we often ask for PiliPili or Mchuzi ya PiliPili. These are hot peppers or a hot sauce that is made from them.

Street Food - Typical meal in Dar es Salaam "Wali ya Marahage"
Typical meal in Dar es Salaam “Wali ya Marahage”


For us, this is the ultimate street food. The crispy-fried triangular, filled dumplings are the ideal snack for in-between. The fillings vary from mashed potatoes, vegetable mix, or minced meat.

With the Samoas, we see the close culinary connection between Tanzania and the Indian and Arabic cuisine. At the street shops. you can see how the dough is folded around the fillings. As usual in Tanzania, deep-frying takes place in a large steel breakdown either over an open fire or over a coal stove. After about 5 minutes, the samosas are taken out of the oil. That’s how long the dough needs to turn golden brown and crispy.

Samosas are finger food. You only need a napkin, so you don’t burn your fingers. At a snack bar, you also get a delicious dip with your samosas.


Also with samosas, we recommend that you pay attention to freshness. Buy the samosas where they are prepared. This is especially recommended for the samosas with meat filling.

Chipsi Mayai

Chipsi Mayai at our home

Ingeniously simple, simply ingenious. You absolutely have to try the French fries omelet. Home-made fresh fries, baked with fresh eggs from the chickens from the farm. In addition, there are often grilled skewers with chicken or beef. We ask ourselves why Chipsi Mayai is not available everywhere in the world.

We haven’t yet found out who invented the dish, but hey! thank you for that. We ate it for the first time in Tanzania and are thrilled. Chipsi Mayai can be found everywhere in Tanzania.

This dish is also eaten by hand. Inexperienced people like us like to burn their fingers. If you can’t wait for the fries to cool down, you can ask for a toothpick. This is often used here as a skewer for eating.


As a side dish to your Chipsi Mayai, you often get a small salad. It is difficult to know how the salad has been cleaned and stored. That’s why we pass that one. – “bila saladi”

Bottom line

Don’t go to Tanzania to lose weight. Try the various delicacies and immerse yourself in the culinary street food scene. It’s totally worth it. We wish you bon appétit, great aromas, and a lot of fun with your new taste experiences.

#unboxingtanzania: Be sure to tag us on Instagram or Facebook when you post your favorite street food.

We read a great, complementary article on the Citizen. We found the perspective very valuable.

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