If you have ever traveled through India, you may be familiar with chapati: the doughy, tortilla-like flatbread staple, coated with a light film of oil and toast-fried on a flat skillet. Floury on the outside and tacky and doughy in the middle. The chapati is just one of many elements of South Asian cuisine that has become a staple in Tanzania. Here, it is enjoyed mostly at breakfast time, or as they say in Swahili, when they ‘drink their tea’, or kunywa chai, alongside a grilled plantain, fried egg, or hot dog sausage, and of course a cup of tea with plenty of milk and dollops of sugar (not a contender for the lightest, healthiest breakfast in the world).
Along with the oily, flour-y smell of the Chapati, those familiar with the staple usually recall the pat-pat-pat-pat-smack! sounds of the chapati maker, the sound of a tiny ball of unleavened dough thrown between well-greased palms. If purchased on the side of the road, where many of the chapati mamas set up, they are wrapped in old newspaper and thrown in a small plastic bag to go.
These photos were from a trip to Morogoro, a few hours’ drive west of Dar es Salaam. The region has this beautiful chain of mountains, and when my sister came to visit, I used her as an excuse to get out and explore the area. Morogoro has a ton of hiking trails, so we picked one suitable for a half-day hike. Midway up the mountain, just outside a small village, was the chapati mama pictured above, churning out chapatis for the residents dropping off children at the primary school down the road. They were tucked, piping hot, into a backpack, saved for consumption at the top of the mountain. Chapati as reward; not bad at all.