Sumni Sumni • A small taste of Dar Es Salaam's Street Food

I've traveled a good handful of African cities. As usual, I've got hungry on the way somewhere and over the years realized that there is probably no other city that rocks street food like Dar Es Salaam. As a child I being i super exciting to spend my pocket money buying sliced mangoes with chilly, bbq corn, tope tope (mabungo), fried cassava, milky pink homemade icecreams (which no longer exist), gubbit (caramel like sticky sweet), fried peanuts ... and the list is never ending.

But this post isn't about all those foods. It's about my favorite of the street foods - SUMNI SUMNI = Tiny pieces of beef meat and fat, skewered into old cycle rods, marinated in garlic, ginger, lemon and grilled in the most hygienically questionable circumstances and charcoal grilled on pedestrian popular streets of Dar Es Salaam.

As a matter of interest, sumni sumni in Swahili means small change. Street food is generally cheap and historically a skewer was sold for a sumni/ one cent - hence the name!

So anyway.... my cravings and also wanting to test my new lens (fujinon 23 f/1.2), I rocked up at one of the sumni joints in Upanga. Now again, you won't find this type of food in quiet locations - the sellers pick high-traffic locations where kids and adults alike would happily rid their spare money for a spicy, quick & satisfying snack. Locations that do well are next to mosques, the Ismaili Jamatini (Community center), Kariakoo (due to its density of people) and Dar City Centre where there is a lot of foot traffic.

These are some shots of Joshua (the sumni sumni guy) and his partner Rajab (the mix guy). Sumni sumni and mix (a mixture of soupy, crispy, potatoes, onions etc) in the streets of Dar are now inseparable. Where there's sumni, there's mix - and people often have these two together.

The temporary stalls of these vendors means they must prepare their meats and other items before they show up at their locations. Joshua works for a sumni guy who owns a sumni shop at Coco Beach (Dar Es Salaam popular street food area), he's basically his franchisee! Joshua gets his meat from Kariakoo, where they have a shared facility with other meat sellers to cut and marinate their meats. Any left overs are brought back to this location and kept in the freezer for the next day. Rajab on the other hand says he doesn't have left overs except cassava shreds, which he can re-use the next day. He came from Lindi some 8 years ago, started working with a Mpemba (people from Pemba island) selling mix at Coco beach. As soon as he learn't the recipes, he decided to team up with Joshua and has his stall on Malid Rd for the last 6 years. On a good day Rajab says he can earn upto Tsh 15,000/- in profits. 

Despite the minimal conditions of many Sumni joints, the temptations of indulging in these succulent pieces of meat for me personally, is just too high.

I hope you enjoy the photos. You can find Rajab and Joshua on Malid Rd, next to the Maamur Mosque, Upanga - from 5.30pm until they run out!

Please feel free to share this post with your friends.

A customer approach the sumni sumni stall...

A customer approach the sumni sumni stall...