Friday’s Featured Food: An Ugali Feast in Arusha, Tanzania

arusha city park food

The outdoor restaurants and bars at Arusha City Park.

It’s time for Friday’s Featured Food and for the second week in a row we head to Africa. This time it’s to the city of Arusha in Tanzania, where I was based for a few nights before and after our Safari experience. It’s also the second day in a row for me to have my daily feature coming from Arusha in Tanzania. Yesterday was Zanzibar coffee, today it’s time for a feast, mostly based around Ugali.

ugali arusha tanzania

This is Ugali. What is it exactly?

What is Ugali?

Stiff sticky maize flour porridge. That’s basically what it is. It comes on it’s own on a plate and it’s white. On its own it’s bland. But this is only the beginning. You don’t eat it on it’s own. The range of things you can eat Ugali with is endless and the Tanzanians know how to serve up a feast, to the point where we actually ordered too much but it was worth trying as much as we could. This was at the end of our trip after the mega safari adventure.

tanzania ugali

This is the ugali – stiff porridge. It’s an obsession in Tanzania.

Where Did We Try Ugali?

To be honest, all local restaurants in Tanzania will probably have Ugali on the menu. It’s somewhat a national obsession. While in Arusha, our driver Timo drove us to Arusha City Park. Basically an outdoor complex of mini restaurants and bars. Quite typical of Africa really. You can relax there and drink and eat to your heart’s content. The charms of backpacking in Africa. Reminded me slightly of my lunch in Swaziland some two and a half years earlier.

restaurant arusha city park

One of the restaurants at Arusha City Park

Let’s See the Menu Then

I’ll be honest here and say that you can’t really know yourself, as a foreigner or tourist what to order first off. It was nice then that Timo was on hand to order for us. Get someone local to order for you so can properly try the local food. You could just wing it, but with Timo we hit jackpot and our stomachs were in good hands. He ordered one of each of these for us – price listed in Tanzanian shillings:

– Ugali (one each)

– A Chicken dish (to share) – 5,000 Shillings

– A Beef dish (to share) – 4,000 Shillings

– A Fish dish (to share) – 3,000 Shillings

– A dish with lemon and chili in it (to share)

– A Beef with banana dish (to share) – 4,000 Shillings

ugali at arusha city park

The menu at Arusha City Park – get a local to order for you…

Ok that’s it in English, here’s what that is in Arusha in Swahili, or what the locals call it

The Fish dish, known as Ugali Samaki:

tanzanian ugali samaki

Ugali Samaki – Fish with cabbage

The beef dish, known as Ngombe Choma Kg:

beef ugali tanzania

Ngombe Choma Kg – the beef dish

The chicken dish, known as Kuku Choma Kienyeji:

ugali chicken arusha

Kuku Choma Kienyeji, the chicken dish

The beef and banana dish, known as Ndizi Machalari, it can also be referred as green bananas and oxtail:

banana ugali dish in arusha

Ndizi Machalari or green bananas and oxtail

And the lemon dish:

ugali lemon chilli

Lemon and chillies

Time to eat. To wash things down Raymond and I ordered a beer each – our last of the trip together. We choose Kilimanjaro Lager which we had both agreed was the best of the beers we tried in Tanzania.

ugali in arusha tanzania

Ready to eat the Ugali in Arusha, Tanzania

How to Eat Ugali

Anything goes but you don’t get cutlery of course. Eat with your hands and mix it all in together – eat it whatever way you wish. I tended to get a bit of the fish dish with some ugali, then some of the beef dish.

ugali plate tanzania

Friday’s Featured Food: My ugali plate in Arusha, Tanzania

My favourite was definitely the fish dish, which is unusual for me as seafood is not normally my favourite at all. The beef was average and the chicken good and meaty. Overall I ate as much as I could and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the experience of trying it more than the food itself however.

ugali fridays featured food

Eating Ugali with my hands in Arusha in Tanzania

Between all of us we couldn’t finish it. There were 5 of us. It was a feast!!

arusha tanzania

Friday’s Featured Food: Our table at the feast of Ugali in Arusha, Tanzania

How much did it cost?

The total bill including the beers and soft drinks was around 45,000 Shillings and that was for 5 people, so 9,000 Shillings each. That’s about 5.5 $US Dollars each, or $27 US Dollars for all 5. That’s good value for what you get. Take the beers out of the equation and you’re talking $20 US Dollars. Not bad at all and believe me this is a feast.

My Recommendations

We had Ugali for lunch and couldn’t possibly finish it all. I’d recommend it for dinner but don’t order too much. I hate to see wasted food, but sadly I’ve been guilty too. All in all it was really nice to try proper Tanzanian food and thanks to Natasa from the Safari Company Shadows of Africa for taking us there and Timo for ordering us the food.

Here’s a video of the Ugali Feast in Arusha:

Friday’s Featured Food is an ongoing regular feature on Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel. If you have a meal, bar, pub, restaurant, brand or idea that you would like reviewed or featured on Friday’s Featured Food, please get in touch via my contacts page or my advertising page. I’d love to hear from you! I’d also love a complimentary beer and some pizza…

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