East Africa is home to a number of delicious snacks, drinks, and meals featuring local ingredients. These 9 treats are a just a small sampler of the cuisine that East Africa has to offer.


Mandazi bacardi (flickr)


1. Mandazi is a popular donut-like fry bread, sometimes also referred to as an East African donut. In Zanzibar, expect them to be spiced with a bit of cardamom, while in other areas, you might find them either yeasted to give them a fluffy, bread like texture, or made a bit denser like a cake donut. Simply moving from one town to the next is likely to expose you to a new method for making this lightly sweetened snack.




2. Chips mayai, directly translated from Kiswahili as “french fry eggs”, is perhaps the greatest Tanzanian snack shillings can buy. Frequently found in roadside stalls, this greasy, salty snack is a simple combination of sliced potatoes and scrambled eggs. It’s sometimes served with kachumbari, a light, tangy tomato and cucumber salad which compliments the heavy dish. Locals enjoy it on their way home after a night out with friends, but many also prepare it with their leftover fries for a quick and easy snack at home.


Chapati kaylan (flickr)



3.  Chapati is an East African flat bread. While It’s frequently enjoyed on its own, it’s also often enjoyed with tea, coffee, or a bit of sugar. As may be obvious by its name, chapati came to East Africa with Arabic settlers in the 17th century. Over 400 years later, the beloved staple has taken on a life of its own in the region. It’s uniquely layered texture along with its pleasant simplicity allows for a wide range of happy eaters.




4. Sukuma Wiki, literally translated to “push the week” in Kiswahili, is a vegetable-forward dish that was originally meant to push you through the week until your next market run. It’s best described as a skillet sauteé of collard greens tomatoes, garlic, onion, and whatever else you have on hand. Easily made vegan, but also with the option to add a bit of protein, sukuma wiki is a healthy and delicious meal.


Fried Tilapia ~MVI~ (warped) (flickr)


5. A whole fried tilapia is one of the tastiest commonly found meals in East Africa. The crispy skin in combination with the tender fish allows for a delicious, addictive combination of textures and flavors. The dish is often elevated with the addition of either a tomato-tamarind or spiced coconut sauce, and is best shared with a few friends.





6. Nyama Choma, meaning “roasted meat” in Kiswahili, is a dish frequently served for special occasions. Often made from goat, but without many guidelines other than meat and fire, the simplicity of the dish is its best trait. Although it’s also sold by local street vendors, when friends and family gather to celebrate in East Africa, nyama choma is the special dish of choice.


Tusker Lager



7. Local Beer: East Africa is home to a number of local beers, and the most popular among them are named after regional landmarks. Try a Tusker lager for a well rounded, approachable sip, or a Kilimanjaro lager for a slightly sweet, laid back beer drinking experience. With branded names ranging from Safari to Serengeti, you may even want to bring a bottle of your favorite beer home as a memento of your East African travels.






8. Fresh Fruit Juice: Due to the region’s proximity to the equator, the consistently warm climate allows for some of the sweetest fresh fruit juices around. Be that pineapple, passion fruit, or mango— there is little else that renews and refreshes as a fresh made juice in the East African heat. While in Zanzibar, don’t forget to search for bungo, a fruit that only exists in Zanzibar and coastal Tanzania. Bungo juice tastes somewhere between tart mandarin and sweet mango, and does not disappoint!


Tangawizi MissionLuganda (wikimedia commons)



9. Sodas: Last but certainly not least, East Africa is home to two uniquely delicious sodas: Stoney Tangawizi, a ginger soda, and Passionfruit Fanta. While you may think sodas are nothing to write home about, these flavors will blow you away. Passion Fanta, a perfect combination of sweet and tangy, and Stoney Tangawizi, a spicy ginger soda unparalleled in depth, are sure not to disappoint. The best part? They’re both commercially available almost everywhere in Kenya and Tanzania, so during your stay they’re both sure to be nearby.