Zanzibari Mix – The Mama Mumtaz Secret African Combination

By Mark Wiens 11 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.

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

  • Farha

    8 years 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.

  • Keiko

    10 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

    • Keiko

      10 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

    10 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

    12 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!

  • pat

    12 years ago

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

  • Abbas

    13 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 🙂

  • Benny

    13 years ago

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

  • Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane

    13 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!

  • Scott @ Ordinary Traveler

    13 years ago

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

  • Paulo

    13 years ago

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