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Nyama Choma: Tanzanian Roasted Goat – African Street Food!

Nyama choma, roasted meat, is one of the most beloved things to eat in East Africa. Read more deliciousness here:

Every Time I arrive back to East Africa, which is usually Kenya or Tanzania, it doesn’t take long for me to get the craving for some proper nyama choma. Nyama choma means roasted meat, and you can usually order beef, chicken, or the most common meat: goat (also known as mbuzi choma Kiswahili). Though I ate plenty of nyama choma in Kenya during my growing up years, this video, and my most recent article and experiences are from Tanzania, in the Dar Es Salaam area.

On one lazy Sunday afternoon, we decided to hit-up one of the truly local style nyama choma joints in the outskirts of town. This restaurant is actually not really a restaurant at all, but it’s literally just someone’s home who opens up their yard as a communal meat devouring and relaxing place. Every Sunday, they decide to hold goat roasts, or nyama choma feasts. There’s a pen with live goats in the yard, and when there are enough customers, they slaughter one of the goats, and hang the fresh meat in the butchery. When customer begin to arrive, they select the chunks of meat that they wish to partake of, and the butcher will then slice it right off the goat carcass and throw it onto the grill. Eating nyama choma is a culture of its own. Most of the customers are men, and they go to a nyama choma restaurant with their friends to relax, normally drink plenty of beer, and chow down on free range and freshly cooked meat.

So I arrived on Sunday afternoon, my mouth already watering to get a taste of that roasted goat, the smoke pouring over the entire yard in meaty goodness. We chose a 1 kilo section of meat off the goat leg and the butcher chopped it ferociously with his machete and threw it on the grill with nothing more than a handful of salt and MSG. Don’t expect your nyama choma, or any other food you order in East Africa, to come quickly. Eating nyama choma is more of a leisure experience; You sit around and wait for 1 or 2 hours until the meat is finished cooking. Our meat took about 1.5 hours or so, until it was done through and through.

When your nyama choma is finished cooking, the butcher then grabs his big knife, places your hunk of meat on a chopping board, and slices through the goat meat like it’s butter. He cuts it all up into bite sized pieces, puts it on a plate, and it’s served with little more than a pile of salt on the side of the plate, some chili peppers, and lemon wedges on the side. Nyama choma is one of the great East African dining experiences. The goat meat is definitely on the chewy side, but you can just taste that incredible natural and free range flavor from the meat. I’m a huge fan of East African nyama choma!

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