International visitors? Serve Chicken Sekela (what else?).

Chicken Sekela Those of you who don’t know me so well would not know that we are a reasonably far-flung family. My sister and her family live in Norway and my youngest brother (the baby, ahhh.) and his family reside in Tanzania. As you could imagine, there is high excitement in our household when youngest brother and family and eldest sister come to visit. It’s not often we have such an international get together. Part of this excitement manifests itself in my cooking for them and us. We try to do it nice and casual and allow the meal act as an excuse for enjoying each other’s company. However, I do like to experiment where I can.

So when youngest brother (YB) suggested that we try a Dar es Salaam favourite of Chicken Sekela, I was hooked. We kept it pretty authentic by having Chicken Sekela with Kachambari and Tamarind Sauce.

Some great ingredients here. Note the block of tamarind.

Some great ingredients here. Note the block of tamarind.

YB brought everything we needed for authenticity. Garam Masala, Tanzanian ginger, garlic, turmeric and tamarind. All bought in the souk in Dar es Salaam.

The ingredients list:

  • 2 chickens
  •  4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch of ginger
  • 2 lemons
  • some salt
  • a generous tablespoon of turmeric
  • a generous tablespoon of garam masala
  • a few twists of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of honey or sugar
  • tamarind sauce to accompany

We had Kachambari to accompany too. This is a simple salad of blanched white onion, tomato and lime juice. It is incredibly refreshing. The first thing I did was to make the tamarind sauce. This was a simple matter of reducing the tamarind in water and adding some salt and sugar to taste.

The tamarind sauce in the making. Delicious sauce from authentic African ingredients.

The tamarind sauce in the making. Delicious sauce from authentic African ingredients.

The sauce got strained to remove the seeds, leaves and fibrous branch bits.

Tamarind sauce in the making

I have never tasted anything with the same taste of this home-made tamarind sauce. Delicious.

For the Chicken Sekela, I chopped the garlic and ginger, mixed it with the garam masala, turmeric, black pepper, soy sauce, honey and juice of the lemons. I chopped the chickens into bite sized pieces.

Honey always calls for a pouring shot.

Honey always calls for a pouring shot. The TZ ginger on the right is a unique colour.

This gets poured over the chicken.

The beautiful Sekela sauce is a delicious colour.

The beautiful Sekela sauce is a delicious colour.

Nice colour or not, I used plastic gloves while mixing the chicken.

This made me feel like I was taking part in a KFC advertisement.

This made me feel like I was taking part in a KFC advertisement. Trust me, this is no KFC.

The chicken marinates for a couple of hours before being thrown on the barbecue.

In TZ, they often add green or purple food colour. Not here...

In TZ, they often add green or purple food colour. Not here…

The Chicken Sekela provided a great centrepiece to our family celebration. I served it with the Kachambari and tamarind sauce as well as spinach and naan breads. It was a lovely little piece of Dar came to Dublin.

YB and family have returned to Tanzania. Sister and her other half have gone back to the frozen north. I can’t wait until the next time….

Chicken Sekela (10 of 10)


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  • Such a rich, delicious looking sauce!

    • Thanks Rosemary. The depth of flavour is hard to describe.

  • Excellent – I’m sure you all had a great time!

    • We certainly did MD. Sad to see them all depart but, we are looking forward to the next time.

  • Your dinners on a Sunday evening are reason enough to come down from the frozen North….

    • And you are always welcome, as you know.

  • This looks fabulous Conor! I have a friend who went to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. As a going away meal, I prepared an authentic Tanzanian meal. Upon his return, he claimed that the meal I had prepared was just as good as the meals he had there, and sometimes mine was even better!

    • Not a word to that effect from youngest brother, wife or daughter. What am I doing wrong?

      • Nothing Conner, it’s the water in Dar, the weather and environment lends to the taste, i’ve tried making the same things I used to eat in Dar here in the US and it’s a no go, though it’s very delicious, the taste is never the same…and never, never, never better than what I ate there. 🙂 I’m trying this recipe today on this cold and windy Fall day, can’t wait! Thank you!

        • Great! It will be fabulous.

        • I’m from Tanzania living in Toronto, Canada, and what makes the food tastier in TZ is that the meats are organic. I was amazed how much better the samosas taste over there. Simply Organic my Friends !!

          Philip Ferrao.

        • Hey Dee, you are right. Not for only the water, but the meats over there are really all organic. You can taste the difference even in the samosas. I used to eat Chicken Sekela at a place opposite Cosy Cafe in Dar. That used to be our Saturday Night Ritual. Amazing !

          • Hi Philip,
            Thanks for visiting and for commenting. I will mention the Cosy Cafe to my brother who lives in Dar. We like to roll with organic here in Ireland too. Thankfully, here it is a matter of choice (and budget) but it’s available.

  • What a wonderful dish. And it sounds like you had a lovely visit. 🙂

  • I am from a similar family and yes, cuisine-wise its great 🙂

  • Makes me want to rush out for some tamarind!

  • wonderful gathering and wonderful food – a winning combo

  • I got a real kick out of reading about the Kachambari as its a quintessentially Indian salad. Comes from the Hindi word Kachumber that means smashed. Other than onion and tomatoes, finely diced cucumber, radish and green capsicum can also be added, and coriander for garnish. And ofcourse green chillies always make everything better 🙂

    • Thanks Parul,
      It is one of the really wonderful things about blogging, getting an education in food. The additions all read like excellent ingredients.
      Thanks for visiting.

      • I didn’t realise that was the origin. But not surprising – many things are shared across the dhow countries, not least food. And the best chicken sekela in Dar is to be found at Uhindini – the Asian quarter.

    • Parul, Dar-es-salaam has so many Indians (don’t know if you grew up there?), there are many Swahili words that are similar to Gujarati, yes, there are many, many gujjus in Dar, I’m one of them (well, at least I used to be), actually most of the Muslim’s in Dar also speak Gujarati…I haven’t been back in so many years but the food is ingrained into every fiber of my being. LOL Nevertheless, Dar-Es-Salaam is BEAUTIFUL!! 🙂

  • Well done. Thanks to a meal like this, I’m sure your brother and sister and their families will be returning very soon.

    • Thanks Tommy,
      If I can influence them, I will. Hope all is good in Texas,

  • Conor, this looks fantastic. Tamarind is used in a lot of Mexican cooking so we have lots of it here. We also have a large Middle Eastern population in DFW and one of our favorite markets is a Mediterranean market with an unbelievable assortment of spices. I actually have everything to give this a go. So, I will very soon. 🙂

    • Please post it Richard. I’d love to see and share DFW goes DeS.

  • So nice that your family can come together like this, Conor. As we mature and our families grow, it becomes harder for us all to be in the same place at the same time. Although I’ve never used them, I’ve seen both tamarind pods and paste at a couple of the markets in the area. Dishes like these are just the thing to get me to try my hand with them. Thanks for sharing and I hope it isn’t too long before you all can get together again.

    • Thanks John. Very true. The times get rarer and more valuable.

  • Looks great, Conor! I only know tamarind from a jar, so nice to see what the real stuff looks like. I imagine it would also have more taste.

    • Lots more taste. I have been using a concentrate and it tastes completely different.

  • This sounds great. How do you make the tamarind sauce? And what are the things in the pot that look like strings–plant fibers? Thanks. Ken (..and would that we had access to an African souk for buying spices.)

    • Hi Ken,
      That was all the tamarind as delivered. The string stuff was what held the big tamarind seeds together. I simply (under instruction) put it in the saucepan and added some water and sugar. As it turned into a sauce, I tasted and added sugar and some salt to get it just right.

    • Jody and Ken, you can buy real tamarind blocks (just as pictured above) at any Indian grocery store.

  • I have been hunting for a recipe for sekela chicken ever since I came back from Tanzania and I’ve finally found this!! I can’t wait to try it, thanks!

    • Happy Days! Delighted to be able to help.

  • Good Lord! That shimmering sight of Tamarind sauce gave me goosebumps all over! This is an absolutely new and must-try recipe for me 🙂 Thanks a ton for sharing 🙂
    And thanks you for all those honest, unpretentious food shots.

  • Definitely a must-try recipe! now the challenge is, where do I find some fresh tamarind here in Paris? ha!
    Looking forward to the next recipe, norwegian this time!

    • Norwegian. That limits my choices somewhat…

  • For the past 19 years I have been stuck in a small community.Fortunately, more and more people have moved in and so there are some more international and ‘trendy’ foods available, but I still must travel some 40 miles or so to get all that I want and to get all the spices I enjoy.It is worth the effort.
    I love having family in,(and friends).It always centers around food.

    • That journey must be done with a well thought out list. Imagine forgetting the garlic….

  • just wanted to say its kachumbari not kachambari, nice post though really looks delicious

    • Thanks for that. It’s delicious however you spell it.

  • Awesome! The sauce is also called “choozi”. I grew up in Dar-Es-Salaam and ate this all the time at the Dar Brotherhood Club…they served sekela chicken with plain toasted/grilled bread slices, oh what I would give to dip the dry toasted bread in the choozi right now…YUMMY!

    • Thanks Dee. Great to make another Dar connection.

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