Come, pull up a chair. Get cozy and comfortable. I’m going to take you on a little journey and share with you a small part of me. A glimpse into my childhood, where I spent the first 18 years of my life, where my parents still live, where the big five
can be found and peacocks roam free, where the ocean has a hundred hues of blue, a haven of peace. This is Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
There is so much to tell you about Dar es Salaam- this post won’t even scratch the surface. Exotic, colorful, lush, tropical. As soon as you land and the rush of hot hair hits you hard, you know you’ve arrived.
We had glorious sunshine followed by tremendous outpours. Such stark contrasts. Lush green vegetation cocooned by the deep azure seas followed by arid and red dry land. Every day we had a different activity planned. Naturally, we spent a lot of time at the various local beaches. But Dar es Salaam has so much more to offer.
There were visits to crowded local markets in Kinondoni where you would find more exotic produce such as avocados and the crunchiest variety of pears I have ever eaten. Or the more local market in Kariakoo where vendors stalls are literally piled on top of another, produce piled like little mountains on each table. And sellers hollering and jostling to get your attention. The place is bustling.
We visited The Slipway- a local tourist district from where you can take fishing trips, cruise the Indian ocean, eat local fare and just watch the sun set. We bought some hand crafted wooden souveniers and local ground coffee to bring back for friends. I was thrilled to catch a man skillfully chisseling at some wood to make a delicate carving. We were enamoured with the colorful and saturated ‘tinga tinga’
paintings- a style of painting developed in Dar es Salaam.
Then there was the food, oh the street food. The grilled corn or ‘makaai’ sold at every street corner-vigorously scrubbed with keffir lime and a generous helping of chili powder and salt. Deep fried ‘mihogo’ (cassava) drenched in a speciality sauce of local scotch bonnet pepper and tomatoes. And one of my favorites- mishkaki. Tender pieces of lamb eaten right off the skewer. Coconut water after each meal- ‘ngumu kyasi, maji tamu’ (slightly hard, but with sweet water we would tell the vendor). Yes, every day. Those are the little things we miss here.
We made sure to eat at least one meal a day at home. Infact, the first meal we had as soon as we came back from the airport had been planned weeks in advance. Slow cooked chicken stew which is then barbequed and simmered again in a rich creamy coconut sauce, ‘kuku paka’ similar to this
. With sticky coconut rice on the side. Typical African fare.
As much as we ate at home, we ventured to quaint local restaurants from time to time. Especially those dotted along the beaches. At Mediterraneo, we ate fresh off the boat kingfish which was simply grilled. No spice, no fuss but full of flavor with a side of pickled garlic and scotch bonnet peppers. Definitely one to replicate at home. But that’s another post.
Evenings were spent feeding the peacocks that wandered from the fauna and flora garden we live next to. Maryam wasn’t keen at first but she quickly warmed to their cries in the evenings. She was chasing them in the garden and before we knew it, they were more weary of her. At night, the days’ culinary adventures were digested with a few slices of papaya sprinkled with passion fruit and a dash of smoked paprika.
We were also lucky enough to visit a dairy farm on our last day. It wasn’t on the agenda, sort of just happened by accident. On the way to a picnic at my aunt’s beach house, I came across a herd of cows- a beautiful sea of velvety browns and blacks. A masaai was leading them to a nearby field to graze. You could tell they were happy cows.
I made a few quick calls and it seemed we were destined to visit. The farm was owned by a lively Greek man who just happened to be a family friend. His passion for providing his family an open and green space, a place where nature roams freely, a place nature meets nurture led him to develop the organic farm.
Each of the twenty five cows are milked manually. Completely non commercial, the milk produced is given to local school children in the area. When he wants to show a token of appreciation to someone, he will gift them a cow. Anyone who knows local Tanzanians would now how much how heartfelt and revered a gift like that is. Such an inspiring man.
And so we watched a cow being milked and its baby calf being fed from a huge bottle. We were treated to smooth and creamy homemade yoghurt. Eaten Greek style with a dollop of honey. Simple, wholesome and so moreish. We were made to feel part of their family. It was a day to remember. The perfect end to a wonderful trip.
And so we are back in Dubai. But not empty handed. We have these memories locked in our hearts, our bellies are full with the beautiful meals we had and these photographs to remember good times spent. And these pineapples. I knew they would somehow find their way into my suitcase from the moment I had my first bite. Their sweet fragrance still lingers in my suitcase.
And that is not all I brought back. There was fiery red scotch bonnet peppers- fiery in appearance and taste. ‘Mali maao’, local keffir limes that I have been sprinkling on anything in sight. Very strong and pungent with a crackled green skin. We’ll be cooking with them in the next few days and I can’t wait to show you the results.
I mentioned this crumble before
and that is the first thing I made when I came back, to celebrate the foods of my country. I added some seasonal mango and toasted coconut in the crumble. If you haven’t added coconut into your crumble before, you must. Tanzanian produce with exotic local flavors. Each bite brings back good times…..until we visit again.
Pineapple Mango and Coconut Crumble
1 large mango- cubed
1 pmedium pineappe- cubed
3 tbs muscivado sugar
1 vanilla pod desseded
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup muscavado sugar
5 tbs cold butter- cubed
1/2 cup dessicated coconut- toasted
3 tbs ice cold water
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Toss the first four ingredients on a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
In a food processor, pulse the flour and butter until it just resembles bread crumbs. Incorporate the sugar and coconut. Add the water and rake gently with a fork until some clumps are formed. Freeze for 10 minutes.
Line your baking tray or ramekins with fruit and top with crumble. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown (time will depend on size of each serving). Serve hot with custard, cream or ice cream and toasted coconut flakes.