Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cookery book by Tanzanian a big sensation

Tanzanian Pride : Miriam Rose Kinunda with her

Tanzanian Pride : Miriam Rose Kinunda with her book on Swahili cooking, just released in Phoenix,  US.  PHOTO | courtesy of the author 

By Freddy Macha,The Citizen Correspondent

London. US-based Tanzanian, Miriam Rose Kinunda and owner of the award winning website “Taste of Tanzania” , has published  a strong colourful book of Swahili and East African cookery.  The book which took Ms Kinunda three years to complete is self published and currently available on Amazon. It is due in local East African bookshops soon.

Speaking exclusively to The Citizen on Saturday from her home-office, Ms Kinunda said she published the book after many foreigners kept requesting her to write them recipes of the delicious Tanzanian foods in private letters and pieces of papers.

She remarks:  “I am indebted to family friends and my mother for teaching me these dishes. In 2007 when my mother came to stay with me,  I had already drafted the manuscript. She went through it,  made corrections and  left me her handwritten recipe notes.  I have taken a lot from it.”

“Taste of Tanzania- Swahili Recipes for the West”,  is a thick, hard cover, with step-by-step illustrations and costs around  $35 in the US (about Sh57,000).  Contents of the book include a variety of dishes : everyday seasonings and spices, beans and peas, famous fruits, often used grains and starches, meats and poultry, seafood,  vegetables, milk products, oils and utensils.

On top of the food details, the 180 page publication has an index plus a well written introduction giving a general perspective on Tanzania – her people, traditions, meanings, markets and general food culture.

One distinctive enrichment of the book is the translations of a multitudes of local foods which have kept their original names such as ‘Kachumbari’, ‘Futari ya Mbaazi’, and   ‘Makande’  from Swahili into English. This helps the reader to learn  the original names of foods with very well taken photographs.

The book has generated so much interest that Ms Kinunda has not rested in the past few days. She has been booked for interviews with various radio stations and tours, e.g. Swahili-based internet radio, Jamii Production and California-based KCAA (Keep California Aware).

Elaborating further,   Ms Kinunda, who also uses the name Miriam Rose,  says the recipes “span over  Tanzania, Kenya, DR Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. A fascinating thing this book does is to explore the inter-connectedness of humanity through food. Arab and Indian influences on Swahili cuisine are mentioned and thus enriching our knowledge as well as raising new questions that beg for further academic inquiries.”

Asked why she gave the sub title “Swahili Recipes for the West”- the Tanzanian author who was the first Tanzanian to have a website over a decade ago, and who has in the past helped bloggers design their sites,  said “Many people around the world think Swahili is a language, this book would allow people to see that Swahili is also a culture of delicious and simple recipes that calls for fresh ingredients.”

Aware and sensitive towards religion and food preferences, she insists that the dishes inside call for freshest ingredients thus suit every person regardless  of religion, age and so on.

She insists also that    organic food lovers can have a choice of buying their ingredients from organic food stores and likewise vegetarians will also find the book useful in expanding the choice of food we eat; a lot of vegetarian recipes. Children may also enjoy and find sweets and snacks while Muslims will enjoy the book, not having to worry about Halal ingredients since all recipes call for fresh ingredients, and thus they have a choice on where to buy their ingredients.

“There is only one recipe call for pork; which can be skipped,” she explains.

“Taste of Tanzania” is the third cookery book to be published by a Tanzanian since independence in 1961. The first was by Eva Pendaeli Sarakikya, (wife of  former Tanzania Armed Forces chief) in 1978 by Tanzania Publishing House. 

It is still widely available. The second is “A taste of Zanzibar” – by Zarina Jafferji, published in 2002 and currently costing $341.60 on Amazon and $70 for a used copy. 

For more information,  visit www.