January 25, 2006

Great Chinese and Indian food…in Africa?

Chinese food at China Plate, Zanzibar

Despite my previous grumblings about finding good Chinese food on the road, I was pleasantly surprised in Tanzania.

The decent Chinese food is due, we were told, from a population of professionals that came to live in Tanzania as teachers and doctors in the 50’s and 60’s (perhaps fleeing the Cultural Revolution). Although there are few Chinese people left, it seems that good Chinese food is there to stay. Lucky for me.

I got some dumplings (good, though with a weird tasting filling), and squid stir fried with celery and cloud ear mushrooms. Yum. Now if I could only find some dim sum…

In fact, it was almost harder to figure out what more “traditional” Tanzanian food was. One night on the safari we were treated to a traditional African meal, featuring an entire goat roasted over hot coals. This was served with ugali, a sticky bland paste made from maize flower (which is rolled in the hand and used to pick up pieces of food), and accompanied by red beans in a savory/sweet sauce. Delicious. Other than that, curry sauces are abundant, which are more subtle and not as spicy as Indian and Thai curries.

I was also surprised by the excellent Indian food. Large populations of Indians were brought into East Africa by the British to work on the railways, leading to an established Indian community living in Tanzania (See Jonathan’s post on the Hindu temple we stumbled on in Moshi).

One of our favorite spots was the “IndoItaliano”, serving Indian, and well, you guessed it, Italian food. Who would have thought that would be a great combination?

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