Ugali, Coconut Beans, and other Tanzanian Food
Ugali, Coconut Beans, and other Tanzanian Food

First Taste of Tanzanian Food


Ugali, Coconut Beans, and other Tanzanian Food

Ugali, coconut beans, and other Tanzanian Food cooked by the Steffensens

Elizabeth and I recently enjoyed our first taste of traditional Tanzanian food.  And we loved it!

Deacon Leslie Steffensen, her husband Kirk, and their children, Greg, Henry, and Charlotte invited us to dinner in their Virginia home to tell us about their experiences at Msalato Theological College.  They lived there during the 2006-07 school year, doing similar work to what Elizabeth and I expect to do there this year.

The Steffensens served us a traditional Tanzanian meal.  The staple food, ugali – consists of cornmeal boiled to a thick consistency and served like mashed potatoes.  To eat ugali, you mold it into the shape of a bowl and scoop up sauces, stews, or meat with it.  (Though Tanzanians usually eat with their hands, we opted for fork and knife for now).  Leslie cooked a bean sauce featuring fresh coconut that she carved using a traditional Tanzanian coconut carver.  She also served chicken, bananas, okra, and other traditional foods.

After dinner the Steffensens showed us a slideshow of their adventures in Tanzania, and gave us many pointers.  Deacon Leslie taught many of the same classes Elizabeth will be teaching, and Kirk set up the computer network that Ben will help maintain.

After dining with the Steffensen’s we are more excited than ever to travel to Tanzania!

Visit the Steffensens’ blog at

Author: Benjamin Locher

Benjamin Locher grew up with his parents and two younger brothers in Johnstown, Pa, about an hour and a half east of Pittsburgh. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., with a degree in government and a minor in Information Systems. It was there that he met and fell in love with his joyful, sweet, beautiful and a only a slight-bit crazy red-headed wife, Elizabeth. They met at the Canterbury Episcopal Ministry and first really got to know each other during a mission trip to Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. After graduating, Ben worked as an Information Technology consultant for CGI Federal in Fairfax, VA and then as a web developer for the action-tank American Solutions, in Washington D.C. Today, he works for SRA International as a web developer at the General Accountability Office, a wing of the U.S. Congress. Ben is a member of St. Paul’s Parish on K Street in Washington, DC, where he is an altar server and ward secretary of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. He is looking forward to the chance to get out of his comfort zone and share the love of Christ in a more particular way, though he is wondering if his deadpan sarcasm will translate into Swahili!


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