Some years ago I went to Tanzania. I had always felt that as a person of African descent, I wanted to make a personal political statement of landing in the Motherland before ever setting foot on the soil of our British colonizers. Instead of those with ambitions of seeing Europe, I simply desired to see and experience Africa. Africa is a continent of wonder for me. My paternal grandmother’s twin sister, Aunty Madge was a missionary in Africa and I grew up seeing the wooden figurines of the wild animals she would bring back for grandma and grandma would recite exciting stories of Aunty Madge’s experience in Africa. I even inherited a dashiki dress, which I wore with glee in my teens and up to my twenties when it got ripped. Yes, I was the only 17 year old in a dashiki in Jamaica and that did not bother me one bit.
So, when I finally got the chance to visit Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar, I was over the moon! And yes, I returned to the Motherland before ever setting foot in Europe.
ONe thing I loved about Tanzania is that I never needed a visa. I was simply welcomed home.
Tanzania is sort of a melting pot -over 100 tribes of strong east African people coming together along with a few imports from Omani/Yemeni descent (largely in Zanzibar) and all speaking the unifying language of Swahili. Perhaps one of the most visible and iconic tribes in Tanzania and Kenya is the Maasai.. who still wear their woven scarves and make the most beautiful beaded jewelry and sandals to this day. I bought some and still have them. That’s how great they are.
Immediately I noticed so many things. The resilience. The creativity. Yes things were hard for many but they were very creative. And there was the food. The food was fresh and oh so packed with flavour! I was living in Dubai at the time, a country in which the vast majority of the food supply is imported and it was great to get locally grown fresh produce that was so tasty that very little hd to be done to it to make exceptional dishes. One salad, that brings me back to Dar Es Salaam is Kachumbari, a very simple salad served as a condiment or side especially perfect with grilled meats. One thing I loved about Tanzania was that there was no fast food chain. Literally, all the street food was local and fast food was homemade. Even chips were homemade, hand cut local potatoes. It was just sensational!
I found the food to be very spicy and so tasty. FLavours are quite robust and the heat is really on with the use of scotch bonnet peppers in the cuisine of Tanzania. Scotch bonnets add such a different level of both heat and flavour that is unmatched by other peppers in my opinion. As a Jamaican who uses, scotch bonnets, it resonated with my palate. When I got my hands on some Jamaican grown scotch bonnet peppers seasoning from Highnoon Spice, I immediately thought of making Kachumbari!
It was served with these grilled beef skewers that reminded me so much of jerk pork in Jamaica. Honestly, I was in foodie haven. I am honestly salivating as I write this.
So, one of the souvenirs I have brought back with me is this wonderful Kachumbari. It is made in several different ways by several different people. It just depends how you like it. The pic below shows all the possible ingredients. However I like to keep mine very simple. I find that it is the presence of scotch bonnet peppers that truly makes this dish stand out. This is another dish in which my Highnoon Spice Scotch Bonnet Pepper really, really shines.
Some people add cucumbers and also some add cilantro to their kachumbari. Try and make it a few different ways and then settle on the one you like best. I am not trying for mine to taste like salsa so I left out the cilantro and furthermore, I had it the exact way it was prepared at the popular local barbecue street foot joint I had it first in Dar Es Salaam.
Tanzanian Kachumbari Tomato Salad
The perfect, spicy way to enjoy tomatoes in the summer and perfect side or condiment for barbecues and cookouts.
- 500 g tomatoes
- 1 small red onion
- 1 lime
- Highnoon Spice Scotch Bonnet Pepper to taste
Cut onion in half then slice each half into thin slices
Squeeze some lime and add a pinch of salt and a little water to onions and let sit for about 5 minutes. This gets out the intense rawness of the onions.
Drain the onions and release excess water
Combine onions and tomatoes, add salt and Highnoon Spice Scotch Bonnet Pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy. It intesifies as it sits.
I shot images and created this recipe for my client Highnoon Spice, a company that reached out to me to give them feedback and I literally fell in love with their products. You can shop for their spices on their website or on Amazon. They are willing to deliver internationally too… so all of you who cannot get your hands on scotch bonnet peppers, you are finally in luck. It is absolutely worth every penny. I am about to go on vacation for two months and I am not leaving home without them. This product is an artisanal product from a a family farm in Jamaica, and honestly you know how much I love supporting great artisanal products.