Cooking in the Tanzanian Bush with Madeleine Shaw

Mon, 6 July 2015
Maddie Shaw Tanzania

It was with trepidation and excitement that I boarded the internal flight to the Ruaha National Park – the final destination of my three-leg journey to the depths of Southern Tanzania. I was heading to the first camp I would be staying at, Kigelia Ruaha. Here, I would not only be experiencing my first safari but also coming on board as a guest chef to prepare special meals for my fellow safari goers.

Driving into Kigelia camp, I was immediately humbled by the majestic baobab trees that stood before me. The tents themselves were simplistic yet charming in nature and the song of wildlife echoing in the background got me excited for the days ahead. We soon encountered a pride of lions, lethargic in the morning heat. Elephants and giraffes were aplenty and my first breakfast was enjoyed atop our truck’s bonnet – a feast of fresh fruit, muesli and yoghurt.

As my safari guide Hussein told me, Kigelia Ruaha offers a unique variety flora and fauna due to its status as a transition zone between southern and eastern species – this meant there was rarely a moment where we weren’t fixated on something.

When cooking we used local ingredients, making porridge for breakfast, coconut masala chai tea for mid-afternoon nourishment and fish tacos with salsa and avocado for dinner on the riverbed.

My next adventure took me further south to the Selous, where thatched cottages with four-poster beds and billowing mosquito nets awaited me at Sand Rivers Selous camp. The bleached white sand rivers gave the perfect opportunity to enjoy the wilderness and practice some yoga. The menu that I designed for this part of the trip included a papaya and mango breakfast created on the river bank – strategically positioned away from the hundreds of hippos and crocodiles just metres ahead of me. I cooked my first African ‘braai’ – a barbeque dinner of butterflied chicken with avocado salsa, spicy okra with green beans and fish parcels. Each meal was created to compliment the wild surroundings, being vibrant in flavour and easy to make on relatively basic cooking equipment.



For the fish tacos: 1 tbsp coconut oil 2 fillets sustainable fish pinch of salt juice of 2 limes 100g of cherry tomatoes rice flour wraps 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour 1/2 cup arrowroot powder or tapioca flour 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1 cup boiling water virgin coconut oil, for cooking

For the mango salsa: 1 mango 1 small chilli, finely sliced juice of 2 limes 1 bunch mint, leaves picked 1/2 clove garlic, crushed pinch of salt

For the guacamole: 1 avocado 1 bunch coriander 1 lime 1/2 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 spanish onion, finely diced


In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, arrowroot, and sea salt. Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon. Knead the dough a little in the bowl, then let it rest for a few minutes while the skillet heats up. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the dough feels too dry.

Preheat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Divide the dough into six equal-sized balls. Place a piece of unbleached parchment paper on the bottom of a tortillas press or chopping board then place one of the balls in the center, cover with a second sheet of parchment, and press to form a thin, round tortilla. Add about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to the hot skillet. Gently remove the top sheet of parchment, place the tortilla into skillet, then remove the second sheet of parchment. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Repeat making tortillas with the remaining dough.

To make mango salsa, cut off mango cheeks and scoop out flesh. Cut into cubes. Combine mango with remaining ingredients.

To make guacamole, spoon out avocado flesh and combine with remaining ingredients. Mash up with a whisk or fork.

Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add fish and salt. Cook until seared on all sides. Add lime juice to finish off.

Serve tacos with cherry tomatoes, guacamole and mango salsa.

Words by Madeleine Shaw in collaboration with Nomad Tanzania

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