The Art of Nyama Choma


Last weekend we had the great pleasure of hosting our friend Trevor at Kimaro Shamba (I’ve given it its own proper name now). Trevor and I worked very closely together at Lutheran World Relief on the Quilt & Kit Ministry for many years and–not gonna lie–we made a pretty awesome team.

Trevor was in Nairobi on a work trip and was kind enough to use the little free time he had to make a quick trip to Tanzania. We originally had plans to take Max and Elly to the Meserani Snake Park for their first camel rides, but opted for a weekend in the village when we heard Trevor could visit. The snakes and camels will have to wait for another day.

One thing that’s certain when you visit Kimaro Shamba–we’re gonna make nyama choma. There’s just no way around it. What’s nyama choma? Simply put, it’s roasted meat. In this case we roasted beef but you can choma any kind of meat: fish (samaki choma), goat (mbuzi choma), or pork (I’m not really sure why, but it’s called kiti moto, which translates as “hot seat” in English). You can also roast bananas, known as ndizi choma.

At the farm we make our nyama choma the traditional way–skewered on sticks over an open fire.


To prepare for Trevor’s nyama choma experience, we went to the nearby town of Kwasadala earlier in the morning to buy the meat and a few other things for our lunch.

The photo below is from a few years ago but it will give you an idea of what it’s like buying meat in Tanzania. There are lots of little butcheries located throughout the towns and villages (Kakasii’s father owned several area butcheries when he was alive). Each day several cows are slaughtered at a central location and the meat is distributed around to all the butcheries. They don’t have refrigeration so all the meat is sold the same day it’s butchered.

butcheryThe meat is hung on hooks and the butchers cut pieces of it based on the customer’s order–steak, heart, liver, kidneys, tongue, intestine, etc. Then the meat is weighed and packaged–usually either wrapped in newspaper or in a plastic shopping bag.


Once we had our meat selected and purchased for Trevor’s visit Wera headed back to the farm on a pikipiki (motorcylce) with the food to start cooking and we continued to the airport to get Trevor.

When we got back to the farm with Trevor, the meat was almost done, thanks to Wera. Wera is an expert at nyama choma and is often hired by others in the village to make it when they are having a party.

Nyama choma is best served straight from the fire so Wera and Kakasii worked as a team to quickly carve and serve it.


For the ndizi choma we used green “cooking bananas” and first roasted them inside their skins and then peeled them to finish roasting. Then it’s just a matter of brushing off the ashes from the fire and eating them up.

ndiziroastingThe perfect complement to nyama choma is a Tanzanian side dish called kachumbari. The contents of kachumbari can vary depending on who makes it, but we usually make ours with tomatoes, carrots, onions, green peppers and cucumbers. Just chop the vegetables and dress with lemon juice and a little salt. Delicious!


Also perfect with nyama choma is pilipili (hot peppers). We picked up a few hot peppers at the market that morning, cut them and squeezed a little lemon juice over them to make a nice dipping sauce.


To top off an excellent meal (enjoyed underneath our big mango tree, which kept us dry when a short rain shower threatened to disrupt our lunch), Kakasii made his specialty fruit salad of mangoes, watermelon, pineapple and oranges cut up and mixed together with a bottle of ice cold orange Fanta pop. This time of year is perfect for this salad because the fruit is wonderfully sweet.


After we suitably stuffed ourselves with roasted meat, we spent the afternoon catching up and then took Trevor to see our church. We ate more traditional Tanzanian food for supper (kuku na wali–chicken and rice) and then enjoyed a campfire under the stars. The next morning we did a short walking tour of our farm before whisking Trevor off to the airport to catch his flight back to Nairobi. It was a short visit, but wonderful nonetheless.

This entry was posted in In Our Kitchen, Little House on Kilimanjaro, Tanzanian Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Art of Nyama Choma

  1. Thank you for such a lovely post, Brenda! And of course, for such a fantastic meal! It’s made even better seeing all of the amazing prep work that went into it. I shared the post with my family – they were very curious about the process of making the nyama choma. I look forward to seeing you and Kakasii again soon!

  2. Lib Turek says:

    I always enjoy reading articles about my nephew Trevor. The food sounds wonderful. There’s a lot of prep time to get everything ready. I can appreciate that, cause I love to cook too! Thanks for the article, I’ll be sharing it with my friends.

  3. Lib Turek says:

    I meant to ask, do you have recipes to share?

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