3 Swahili Dishes That Will Change Your Life!

June 16, 2023 1 Comment
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Welcome to the enchanting world of Swahili cuisine! Swahili dishes offer a tantalizing experience for food enthusiasts. Originating from the Swahili coast of East Africa, this culinary tradition combines African, Arab, Persian, and Indian influences to create a unique fusion of tastes. In this blog post, I will take you on a journey through some of the most beloved Swahili dishes and provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to recreate them in your own kitchen.

Swahili Dishes: Food Recipes

Pilau (Spiced Rice Dish):

 Swahili dishes

Pilau is a fragrant and spiced rice dish that is a cornerstone of Swahili cuisine. To prepare this mouthwatering dish, you will need:


  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and sauté until golden brown.
  3. Stir in the minced garlic, cumin seeds, ground coriander, turmeric, and cinnamon stick. Cook for a minute until the spices release their aromas.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until they soften.
  5. Add the rice and stir well to coat it with the spices.
  6. Pour in the vegetable or chicken broth and season with salt.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 15–20 minutes until the rice is cooked and the flavors have melded together.
  8. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Nyama Choma

 Swahili dishes

Meaning “grilled meat” in Swahili is a popular dish enjoyed throughout East Africa. Here’s how you can prepare this delightful dish:


  • 1 kilogram of your choice of meat (such as beef, lamb, or goat), cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges (for serving)


  1. In a bowl, combine the vegetable oil, minced garlic, paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt, and black pepper.
  2. Add the meat chunks to the marinade, ensuring they are well-coated. Let the meat marinate for at least 30 minutes, or ideally, overnight for maximum flavor.
  3. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  4. Thread the marinated meat onto skewers, leaving a small space between each piece.
  5. Grill the meat skewers for about 8-10 minutes, turning them occasionally, until they are cooked to your desired level of doneness.
  6. Serve the Nyama Choma hot with lemon wedges for squeezing over the meat.

No Swahili meal is complete without a touch of sweetness.


 Swahili dishes

This is a delicious deep-fried bread that pairs perfectly with tea or coffee. Follow these steps to prepare this delightful treat:


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, instant yeast, and ground cardamom.
  2. Gradually add the coconut milk to the dry ingredients, kneading the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  3. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for about 1-2 hours until it doubles in size.
  4. Punch down the dough and divide it into small portions.
  5. Roll each portion into a circular shape, about 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan or pot over medium heat.
  7. Fry the Mahamri in batches until they turn golden brown on both sides.
  8. Remove the bread from the oil and place it on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  9. Serve the Mahamri warm and enjoy their delightful aroma and fluffy texture.


From the aromatic spices of Pilau to the succulent grilled meats of Nyama Choma and the sweet indulgence of Mahamri, Swahili cuisine offers a diverse range of flavors that will delight your taste buds.

So, gather your ingredients, unleash your culinary creativity, and embark on a flavorful journey to savor the delights of Swahili cuisine. Karibu chakula kizuri! (Welcome to a good meal!)

Want to know more about food in swahili? Check out my Learn Swahili: Food product that teaches you about the different foods in Swahili.

You can also check out my Learn Swahili: Food interactive Google slides designed to make learning about different foods in Swahili fun and enjoyable!

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  • […] a portal to the vibrant culinary world of East Africa.Imagine you’re crafting a delectable Swahili-inspired dish, perhaps a mouthwatering beef stew with rich flavors that dance harmoniously. As you reach for your […]

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