Tanzania’s kitchen – food, glorious, colourful food


Potato patch 2008

Potato patch 2008 (Photo credit: penguinbush)

I am in love with the glorious food this soil produces!

And as true as bob, I have learned to love cooking – now to all my good, long-standing friends, this must be a huge surprise, but when you have the pleasure of choosing from the ripest of red tomatoes,

Succulent red tomatoes

flavour-full red onions, pine-apples that are so sweet and juicy it gives you shivers all over, then you simply have to use them all and cook up wholesome, flavour-some food every night.

Red onions and garlic

Since being married for only 6 months to my darling Kobus, I took to cooking when we were still living on the farm in Malmesbury – I had a humongous farm kitchen, and an even bigger stove – big enough to cook family meals for our whole brood all in one go.  I even started to make delicious fridge-tarts again, with tinned pineapple pieces and  marshmallows folded into a chilled Ideal Milk base, mixed with condensed milk – yum!  I used to make those when my kids were still small, but since I got divorced and Allister and I shared a big house that had a bond the size of which made for me to have to work, work, work in order to afford it, I seldom cooked, let alone baked.  Initially I was perturbed and feeling guilty for having neglected my family in the good food department for so long, and now cooking up Sunday roasts for my new husband and step-son, but I realise now that I did what I had to do at the time, and cannot beat myself up about it forever.  For a while last year, my older sister lived with Allister and I, and cooked up a storm for us most nights, and I thank her for that.  Of course my beloved daughter Belinda has turned out to be a Master-Chef!!  born through the need to eat well, with a mum that did not cook!!

So, arriving in Tanzania and in this new swing of wanting to cook for my man, I immediately fell in love with the variety and colourful display of fruit and veggies at all the small stalls lining the roads wherever you go.  The citrus fruits are different to South Africa, with very thin skins, and the local orange-sellers display a masterful art of peeling the super-thin peel, leaving the thick white coating, then selling the oranges after cutting them in half to eager buyers – they are juicy, sweet and delicious.  The buyer then simply sucks out the juice, and throws the empty shell away.  Standing in the ferry queue yesterday, an official car by-passed the queue, parked in front of the slipway to the ferry, and the driver got out to first eat such a purchased orange before boarding the ferry.

Super-thin peel Lemons

The pine-apples are huge, much bigger than those in South Africa, and even though they appear to be green on the outside, the inside is fleshy, juicy and sweet…  A favourite in the household.  As are the Avocado Pears.  Kobus’s mother was apparently an avo lover, and he has certainly inherited the love as well.  They are to be found in abundance, and we always have at least 3 – 4 in the fridge at varying stages of ripening.  A favourite salad for the boys is made of a ripe avo, sliced, some flavour-some red onion slices, a juicy cucumber and the cherry on top, the intensely red tomatoes sliced in.  Topped of with a home-made vinaigrette, and voila!!  A delicious accompaniment to my farm-style stews.

Red-skinned pototoes

I have taken to cooking wholesome “boere-kos” again, simply because it is easy, a one-pot stew takes up less of my time in front of the hot gas stove, and my men (and I) simply love it.  The latest was a mushy, delightful cabbage bredie, a bit like I have eaten in Germany where cabbage, potato and meat in a stew are always a firm favourite.  After searing my shanks and some loin chops (yes, a sacrilege I know, but since they are so cheap here, I add them to stews!), until brown, I add a whole cabbage and potatoes and then cook until super-soft.  Some local spices, vinegar, a dash of sugar and some chutney, and we licked our fingers afterwards!!  I often cook the men’s favourite, a good green-bean stew, in a similar fashion, and if tomatoes are plentiful in the fridge, I do the same for a tomato bredie that “skriks vir niks nie” (loose translation – not to be sneezed at!)

So, for an ex Woolworths freak, always jokingly referring to my helper “aunty Woolworths” in my previous life, I now have no option but to cook – partly due to there being no Woolworths food store here, but mostly due to the compulsion of using the most delicious fresh products a cook could hope for.

Salad fare

Kobus is of the opinion that the farming output here can be improved upon hugely, statistics also prove that the soil is most under-used, and one of our projects once we live on Zanzibar will be to plant a veggie garden and also to assist local farmers with his knowledge and expertise gained from years of farming.  I look forward to a garden with my own bean plants raking up, fresh tomatoes (will do some cocktail tomatoes as well), South African potatoes (white-skinned potatoes are hard to find here, and although the red-skinned variety here is fantastic in stews, it does not make a good potato salad), and pumpkins etc – just like my mother’s veggie garden was when I was a toddler.

So, to all my friends and family reading this, the only way you are going to believe that I can in fact cook now, is for you to come and visit and I will put the proof in the pudding!!

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About suletta

Fell in love again at age 50! And followed my man to Zanzibar, for him to set up a dairy farm. I managed to travel into Africa a few times in my life, always loving it and experience the "fever" that grips you on African soil - the one that especially the Europeans now and in years gone by, suffer from. Except I am an African by birth - a South African. A Mzungu.So I discovered at this late stage in my life (not that I feel old!) that some people find my babblings about life interesting, and I quote: "live their lives vicariously through me".
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