Zanzibari Mix – The Mama Mumtaz Secret African Combination

By Mark Wiens 24 Comments
Zanzibari Mix
Zanzibari Mix

We navigated our way through the maze of Kariakoo in downtown Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  I was snacking on a cob of roasted maize as we advanced our way down a quieter side street.  There were a number of apartment complexes, each behind tall fences and sturdy gates.

We entered a black gate and that is where we found Mama Mumtaz.

She serves a dish that’s commonly known as Zanzibari Mix.  There’s no need to complicate the name (even though it’s a complex culinary treat)!

Mama Mumtaz does no advertising for her humble eatery, all guests are there by word of mouth, even we heard about it through a local Indian friend in Dar Es Salaam.  She opens everyday at around noon and closes when the food is finished.

The restaurant is on the ground floor of an apartment complex, half indoor and half sprawling into the parking lot.  The food sits on a table and eaters sit around on wooden benches, placed in random directions to avoid the angle of direct sunlight.

mix-dar-tanzania
Eating Mix in Dar

When we arrived, the premises was filled with women, women all wearing full bui bui (also known as a burka or an abaya) Islamic coverings.  They were sitting on benches, silently enjoying their Zanzibari Mix.  Above them, scribbled on the concrete with a marker, read “Mama Mumtaz.”

She was a plump lady and by the smells and effort she was putting forth, I could immediately sense that she loved what she was doing, a deep passion for her food.  It was that same non-verbal care that Mama Chapati had expressed when serving me one of the best street chapati’s I’ve ever had the privilege of eating – in my entire life!

Zanzibari Mix is a combination of Indian, Arab, and African flavors, all mingled together into a single unique specialty.

bhajias
Frying up the bhajias

Deep fried morsels of potato and spices, chickpeas, peanuts, and boiled potato’s start at the bottom of the bowl.  It is then covered by a smooth coconut sauce, a spoon of pulpy coconut cilantro chutney, a dash of chili sauce and a scoop of deep fried tidbits.

zanzibari-mix-dar
Making Zanzibar mix

I patiently waited for a few moments until my bowl of Zanzibari Mix was handed to me.  It was spectacular, a combination of tastes that my mouth was unfamiliar with and I rejoiced with each bite.  It had similarities to Indian food, Arab food, or even could have passed as Malay, but this was just slightly different, boosted with a taste of Africa.

I was delighted and despite my needing to stand up to allow a few more women to have a seat, I slurped down my bowl with haste.

Zanzibar Mix
Delicious bowl of Zanzibar Mix

As the only male at the small restaurant, the situation was slightly inappropriate for me to be snapping away with my camera, so I took a couple pictures of my own bowl of Zanzibari Mix, unable to show the interesting setting.  Mama Mumtaz charged us a worthy 1300 TZS (0.88 USD) per bowl and we left content…very content.

If we hadn’t known about the Mama Mumtaz secret, hiding between walls of shanty apartments, we would have blindly walked right past the gate without ever noticing the gem of Zanzibari mix.

On my latest visit to Dar Es Salaam, also discovered this wonderful place for mix, in the neighborhood of Upanga.



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

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  • Farha

    11 months ago

    All your post are delicious hmmm but I would request if you could post the recipes too.

    I miss Zanzibar Mix I love it so much.

    • Mark Wiens

      11 months ago

      Hi Farha, thank you very much. I would love to have the recipes as well, but I’m more of an eater than a cook. But if I do find a good recipe, I’ll let you know.

  • Keiko

    3 years ago

    Hi Mark,

    I am very much impressed by your article about Zanzibari Mix.
    I am a Japanese resident in Dar es Salaam and I love to try the local food. My stomach is relatively tough.

    I read your article closedly, but I couldn’t find the actual location of the eatery. I am sure that you might keep it for your own. But if you can share your secret with me, I am waiting for your kind sharing of the information about the location.

    with my thanks,

    Keiko

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hi Keiko, great to hear from you, glad that you’re living in Dar Es Salaam. I’m actually not sure exactly where it is, I just know that it’s right in Upanga, and just down the street from Don Bosco Youth Center. If I can find more details, I will let you know. Have you been to Barbecue House? Great food: http://migrationology.com/2013/10/barbecue-house-restaurant-consistently-delicious-food-in-dar-es-salaam/

      • Keiko

        3 years ago

        Hi Mark,

        Thank you so much for your quick feedback.
        I try to find it out after the name of Don Bosco Youth Center you mentioned.
        One good news is that one of my Indian/Tanzanian friend told me that she orders Zanzibari mix at home from an establishment, and she will invites me when she gets it next time.

        I have never been to Babecue House, but I once ordered a catering from a curry house “Unique” very near to Babecue House. New urbanization is approaching to these area too.
        Thank you for the recomendation.

  • Dipak Joshi

    3 years ago

    I am born, broughtup and educated in Zanzibar. I am in Tourism and Restaurant Business in Zanzibar since 1988. I love to eat Zanzibar Mix daily and am the only restaurant in Zanzibar, offering over 8 varieties of Zanzibar Mix in Zanzibar. Our Price range start from T.shs 2000/= per bowl and above.
    I welcome everyone to visit Zanzibar, enjoy our Hospitality and enjoy Zanzibar Mix at our small family Restaurant located near fruits and Spices Markets near Swahili House Hotel. Famously known as Joshi’s Zanzibar Mix Urojo.
    We say in Swahili – Karibuni – Welcome to Zanzibar to enjoy the Original style Zanzibar Mix. You can even find us in Facebook – click on Zanzibari Packages and you will get all the info and 8 varieties of Zanzibar Mix – served by Joshi’s Vegetarian Food Fort, Zanzibar, Tanzania, East Africa

  • niru

    5 years ago

    Thanks for the reminiscence, Mark! I am an Indian who grew up in Dar and the Indian embassy-run school that I attended shared the campus with a local school. The school had a small stall where an Indian couple would come during our snack break and set up shop to serve us kids piping hot zanzibari mix. Kids would throng the stall as soon as we were set free – you could order it for 150 tsh or 300 tsh for a bowl. We would wash it down with ice cold coke.

    I just made mix today and thought of doing a quick google search to see if anyone has posted about it and so glad to run into your post. I’ll try to post a recipe soon. You can imagine how enamored we must have been of the humble mix if I can still remember (albeit vaguely) how it is made so many years hence. I am talking of at least 15 years ago!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Niru, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your story about Zanzibari mix. It’s one of those powerful comforting dishes that can really bring back the memories.

      Let me know if you make a recipe, I’d love to check it out!

  • pat

    5 years ago

    grew up eating Zanzibar mix and i’ve been craving it like crazy!!!!! Does anyone have the recipe?

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Awesome Pat! I don’t have the recipe at all, but I’d like it too! Hopefully someone can help us out, but if I come across a recipe I’ll definitely post it here.

  • Abbas

    6 years ago

    Hey Mark! Your article definitely pays the mix justice, and I myself have been there many many times. It’s an amazing place but we never sit there (we go there in large families) so we usually have our own mix bowls actually. And I’m pretty sure she price gauged you, we usually pay about 500Tsh 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      6 years ago

      That’s so cool to hear that you’ve been there, and go there frequently. Are you living in Dar these days?
      Hmmm, maybe we got ripped off, though I saw other people paying the same amount, perhaps I wrote down the wrong amount and that price was for 2 bowls (my mother and I). We also got an order to take-away bajias!
      Thanks so much for sharing Abbas!

  • Benny

    6 years ago

    Easily one of the world’s greatest value food items – Breakfast, lunch or dinner.

  • Mark Wiens

    6 years ago

    @John: Yah, especially within modern cities, restaurants like this are almost obsolete. Keep that location in Paris safe!

    @Miss Footloose: Great, sounds good, I’m sure you will cook something delicious!

  • Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane

    6 years ago

    What a wonderful place and lucky you for having such a great meal. I’ve eaten in places like that, but not recently. Now I’m hungry so I’ll see if I can cook me up something spicy and flavorful for dinner. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • John in France

    6 years ago

    Places like this one you refer to, I few and far between these days I reckon. I know of one in Paris like this, but I don’t know if I’d recommend it for fear of changing it!!

  • Mark Wiens

    6 years ago

    @Jeruen: Very cool, I bet you have mastered your own personal recipe for risotto by now. Yes, I also grew up in a rice culture and enjoy eating anything, especially when rice in included. I don’t feel fully successful in a day of eating without at least 1 portion of rice!

    @Paulo: Thanks Paulo, coconuts create such incredible flavors and bases for soups and curries. I also love anything with coconut, but too bad it’s so fatty!

    @Scott: Yah, even though you want the pictures, sometimes it’s just not appropriate. Those are the situations when it’s necessary to take a great mental picture to remember forever!

    @Turkey’s For Life: You’re right, I always try to take advantage of any food recommendations from locals. Yes, not the healthiest, but a great treat!

    @Ted: Yes, Thanks!

  • Ted Nelson

    6 years ago

    Wow, this looks delicious and a great travel find.

  • Turkey’s For Life

    6 years ago

    It’s always best when someone recommends places to you where you can go and eat something really special. This might not be the best meal for those of us trying to lose a few pounds (!) but I’d give up my diet for a day just to try that because it looks great!
    Julia

  • Scott @ Ordinary Traveler

    6 years ago

    Ha ha, I get a bit camera shy in those situations too. I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  • Paulo

    6 years ago

    So much great food. I always leave hungry after reading your blog. This one looks especially awesome. I love coconut based foods.

  • Jeruen

    6 years ago

    You always seem to find these little gems of street cuisine in the most interesting nooks and crannies! No doubt it is a fun discovery! This specific dish you posted about reminded me of my very own “risotto” which I almost always made when I was in middle school. Being in a rice culture, rice was always present during dinner, accompanied by whatever was the dish of the day. In Japan, they had these instant soups, along the lines of corn chowders, clam chowders, and so forth. Just open the sachets and empty the contents in a bowl and add hot water, that sort of thing. I usually would make one cup and flood my rice and accompanying dish, to the horror of my family, but it was delicious (in my opinion).