Mama Theopiste’s Tanzanian Food at the Boy Scouts Canteen

By Mark Wiens 15 Comments
Mama Theopiste, at back, writing up my bill
Mama Theopiste, at back, writing up my bill

Located within the Tanzania Scouts Association property, and opposite the Don Bosco Catholic youth center, in the Upanga District of Dar Es Salaam, is the Scouts Canteen (unofficial).

Mama Theopiste controls the kitchen, and whips up some delightful Tanzanian food everyday for lunch.

Other than a few red Coca-Cola signs and tablecloths (something that always dictates good greasy food and cold beverages in Africa), and a glass cabinet full of chips (fries), the restaurant actually has no real name.

2 giant platters of lunch
2 giant platters of lunch

It’s more of a big thatch covered space that consists of a roasting nyama choma area, a few different bars, and a spread of plastic tables and chairs, all donated by either Coca-Cola or a local beer company – very typical restaurant decor in Tanzania.

Everyday around noon or 1 pm, a buffet of Tanzanian food is served by Mama Theopiste and a few helpers.

The food is home-cooked style, and each day, quite a few men – everyone from businessmen in suits to men drunk from the night before and who looked like they slept there – stumble into the restaurant to fill their bellies for lunch.

Mchuzi wa samaki - curried fish, Tanzanian style
Mchuzi wa samaki – curried fish, Tanzanian style

The staff at Scouts Canteen are not quite as organized as at Holiday Out, they slowly move, and if you ask for something, like a bottle of water, it normally takes a few minutes for your request to be fulfilled (that is if they don’t forget).

Though service is slow, just like many places in Tanzania, the food is pretty good.

I ordered an mchuzi wa samaki, a curried fish, along with a big ball of maize flour ugali and a few accompanying sides.

Price – 5,000 TZS ($3) full plate

You've got to lick your fingers after this one!
You’ve got to lick your fingers after this one!

Though Dar Es Salaam is next to the sea, Scouts Canteen specializes in preparing Sato fish, a freshwater fish that’s famous from Mwanza, a city near Lake Victoria. Sato is similar to a tilapia.

The fish was prepared in a thick rich coconut curry sauce with lots of onions and tomatoes.

Also on my plate was a scoop of mchicha (green vegetable similar to spinach), beans, some coconut curry sauce with pieces of okra, and my huge blob of ugali (same as what you’d get eating Kenyan food) – the ultimate filler.

Mchicha, green vegetable
Mchicha, green vegetable

We also ordered a plate of rice along with a catfish that was dried, rolled into a ring shape, and also curried.

Roll of catfish. Do you know the name?
Roll of catfish. Do you know the name?

The ring of catfish tasted almost a little fermented like a Thai kaeng tai pla. It was alright, not the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted. I thought the sato fish in coconut curry (above) was superior.

Price – 5,000 TZS ($3) full plate

Deep fried sato fish
Deep fried sato fish

Finally for good measure we decided to order a deep fried sato fish as well, and it’s a good thing we did, because he was quite a tasty fellow.

Price – 3,000 TZS ($1.83)

Here’s the full feast on video… watch it now…

(if you can’t see see the video, watch it on YouTube here)

Boy Scouts Canteen, Dar Es Salaam
Boy Scouts Canteen, Dar Es Salaam

Boy Scouts Canteen, Dar Es Salaam

The Tanzanian food served at Scouts Canteen is a great place for a seriously filling lunch in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and the food is always prepared fresh by Mama Theopiste  – she’s friendly and cooks well.


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15 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Nikolina

    2 years ago

    Dear Mark, first I want to thank you for what you do. Many people do similar things, but it is so obvious that you do it passionately and not just to earn money while enjoying life, but you make others feel happy while watching and reading your blogs and also we can learn a lot from your work. I am from Croatia and I visit Tanzania every year, but until now I haven`t manage to find a perfect restaurant in Dar, so thank you very much for this and all other videos from Tanzania 🙂
    God bless you, I wish you all the best in your life. Many greetings.

  • Jonny Duncan

    4 years ago

    Yummy yummy yummy yummy yummy!!!!!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Oh yes Jonny, you know all about this food too!

  • Anwesha

    4 years ago

    The ball of Ugali with the fish curry looks promising 🙂
    Like Renuke pointed out above, the veg and rajma could very well have belonged in an Indian thali. The ugali is the only foreign element I see.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thanks for checking it out Anwesha, the ugali is quite plain (like white rice), so it really takes on whatever dish you eat it with!

  • Gianni

    4 years ago

    Great post Mark, and great photos too. I like to read your experiences in Africa… I wish to visit it one day. I guess is an amazing continent with great people.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Gianni, thank you so much for reading. Yes I think it’s a very amazing continent with so much to offer, hope you can visit in the future!

  • Renuka

    4 years ago

    Well, the food definitely looks delicious. I thought it’s from India. Rajma and fish curry – two great items in a plate – wow! I want to dig in right now!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thank you so much Renuka, it definitely does look similar to some Indian dishes!

  • Nelson Mochilero

    4 years ago

    What about those beans? they look tasty beside that fish.
    Good review as always Mark!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thank you Nelson, yes those beans were good too!

  • Rozi

    4 years ago

    Delicious!!!