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The Dar Es Salaam Resto in Thiruvananthapuram brings a whiff of flavours from Tanzania

Chicken Shakela   | Photo Credit: Harikumar J S

Totemic images of African life and culture peek at you from orange walls as you enter Dar Es Salaam that greets you with a ‘karibu’ (welcome) embellished before a large carving of map of Africa. Makonde carvings, deft artwork from the eponymous ethnic group, adorn the décor as ‘Mamma Mia music’ lilts in the background. But mistake not that we are in the famous, faraway Tanzanian metropolis. This Dar Es Salaam is located right in the heart of the city and whips up exotic flavours from Tanzania, admittedly with a desi twist.

The multi-cuisine joint Dar Es Salaam Resto at Sasthamangalam in the Kerala capital, which opened in November, gives you a whiff of Tanzanian cuisine, even as the eclectic menu has Chinese, North Indian and South Indian dishes, including 25 varieties of kebabs. “The name’s a homage to the place,” says owner Anilkumar Vasudevan. He made the Tanzanian city his home for over 25 years where he runs two outlets of his Indo-African diner, ‘Swaad’, which are currently managed by his brothers.

The Dar Es Salaam Resto in Thiruvananthapuram brings a whiff of flavours from Tanzania

Anilkumar, who used to work with a Japanese camera manufacturing firm, says he first landed in Tanzania in 1993. But his “passion for cooking and good food” saw him open Swaad in 2000. The outlet kept a customer base of both ethnic Africans and the Indian community in mind. He says Dar Es Salaam Resto is still in the nascent phase and the Tanzanian dishes currently includes only a handful of items as he “wants to take his time” to settle down before expanding the menu. The spacious diner’s emblem, done in the colours of the Tanzanian flag, bears a picture of a giraffe, the national animal of the African nation.

“African cuisine generally incorporates dishes that are more raw and dry, something that may not be completely acceptable to the Malayali palate. Hence, these items have been made spicier. Also, I can only bring so much of original ingredients from Tanzania,” chuckles Anilkumar.

Thai chilli basil chicken

Thai chilli basil chicken   | Photo Credit: Harikumar J S

Mayayi (Swahili for egg) chips comes in two variants – plain and with kheema fillings of choice that includes chicken, beef or mutton and cheese. It is essentially a Tanzanian omelet with potato fries, deemed a brunch staple. Anilkumar calls its a “layman’s dish” in Africa. Mishkaki beef, on the other hand, is a meaty treat, charcoal-grilled and tasting akin to kebabs. He points out that neck portions that are more tender are chosen for the preparation. Another pick is chicken sekela (spelt shakela in the menu) that comes with onion-based kachumbari salad, super-spicy chachandu for dip, mayonnaise and French fries. “Originally, a very hot variety of chilli called pilipili mbuzi is used to prepare chachandu,” he explains.

Perhaps, the highlight is the customised ‘African thali’ that works as a repast of maize flour-based ugali, michicha (spinach/kale), kidney beans, fried anchovies and beef roast. Extend the exoticity to the beverages on offer are imported African coffee and tea powder to in stock. Anilkumar says he will soon introduce matoke, a popular Tanzanian dish made of raw bananas.

He moved three of his cooks, all Indians, who were working with him at Swaad to bring the flavours of Dar Es Salaam to his city outlet. “But I haven’t forgotten naadan,” he says, pointing to the fish curry meals, beef coconut fry, chicken ularthiyathu and varutharacha chicken curry on the menu.

The outlet is open on all days. Timings: 11 am to 11 pm.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 6:11:25 PM |

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