Chips mayai (also known as chipsi mayai) is one of the most widely available and popular Tanzanian street foods in the country.
Chips, is of course another word for French fries, and mayai is the Kiswahili word for eggs.
Together it’s French fries and eggs, or to put it more clearly, a French fries omelet.
In Tanzania, anytime you see that black wok sitting out front of a restaurant or street food stall, hovering over flames, with yellow oil bubbling up, you can be pretty sure they serve chips mayai.
You’ll find it everywhere from Dar Es Salaam to Arusha and even in small little village dining establishments.
I’m going to be honest, for myself, chips mayai is not the most exciting thing in the world.
It consists of a handful of French fries that are tossed into a frying pan and a few eggs are cracked on top to create a hearty oil and potato filled omelet.
Sure, it tastes pretty good, but it tastes exactly like you’d expect it to: French fries and eggs combined.
One thing you can be certain of is that any plate of chips mayai will be greasy – no way to avoid oil!
Some of the French fries in chips mayai are crunchy while others are soft with only slight crunchiness on the edges. The egg, also fried in a little more oil, sometimes gets a little crunchy too.
This particular plate of chips mayai I ate was served with a side of kachumbari (tomatoes and onions), hot chillies, and the all necessary bottle of East African style tomato chili sauce – kind of like ketchup, with a little extra spice, and a little less acidic.
Adding lots of tomato chili sauce, kachumbari, and chili peppers improves any plate of chips mayai.
Overall, I much prefer to eat a full Tanzanian food meal of rice or ugali with fish and beans, but chips mayai has its place in the repertoire of Tanzanian food and makes a tasty and filling snack.
Price – most places should cost 1,500 – 2,000 TZS ($0.90 – $1.21)
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