Urojo is a traditional African dish that has been around since the early 20th century. It is very popular in West and East Africa, but it originated from Zanzibar.
Urojo is regularly cooked in households in Zambia, Kenya, and Uganda. Every home usually has its version of Urojo, primarily because of the variations in ingredients and secretive family recipes. The recipes also vary according to the season and the available vegetables in the region.
What is Urojo, and where is it from?
Zanzibar mix is a popular street snack in Africa. You can’t miss it on the vendor stands of the Forodhani night market. It is a typical scene to see people with a bowl of Urojo at 5 pm on the streets of Zanzibar indulging in this spicy and savory porridge, also known as Urojo.
There are many theories on where the dish originated from; some say it originates from India. Others claim it was introduced by Portuguese traders.
The Indian influence is, however, very evident in this dish. Urojo is very similar to the Indian kadhi and comprises mainly potatoes and flour. The lemon and turmeric give it a yellow color. The main spices are cumin, coriander, and chilies. When put together in one bowl, it makes for a very nutritious meal packed with energy.
While the plain Urojo already tastes delicious, the toppings add a spicy twist to this rich soup. For example deep-fried fritters called bhajias. There’s a variety of chutneys to choose from – the white coconut chutney, red-hot sauce, or tamarind chutney. All these toppings are a staple in Indian cuisine as well.
Bhaijas: These tasty snacks complement the spicy soup perfectly.
Sev: Sev is a crunchy fried noodle made out of chickpea flour which can be added to your bowl for more taste and texture. Sugar is needed to balance all that chili powder and spices since otherwise, it will numb your tongue. Sugar helps bring out those flavors even more!
Viazi Karai: These potatoes are boiled in water, peeled, and then cut into thin slices. These are fried with salt, onions, green chilies, and tomatoes to give it an excellent tangy taste.
Potato/Cassava Shavings: These are cut into thin strips and fried to give it a nice crispy texture. Once done, you can sprinkle them on top of your bowl.
Mango Chutney: The mango chutney brings out all those flavors of your Zanzibar mix even better! This sweet and tangy relish has finely chopped green chili, ginger, and onion.
Coconut Chutney: You can make green coconut chutney by blending green chilies, coriander leaves, fresh coconut, and salt.
Red-hot sauce: Add 2-3 red chilies with ½ tsp of crushed garlic to some chopped tomatoes, lemon juice and salt.
There you go!
There are two reasons why tourists and locals love to come to the Forodhani Gardens along the main sea walk of Zanzibar. To witness the beautiful sunset and to relish the ever-popular street food! There’s one dish that stands out as the all-time favorite. It’s a spicy porridge called Urojo or Zanzibar Mix. The Stone Town sea breeze, together with this sizzling soup, is an unforgettable combination!
More Soup Recipes
ZANZIBAR MIX, UROJO
- 8 Small Irish potatoes
- 1 – 1 ½ cup Water for flour mixture
- 3 Limes juiced
- ½ cup All-purpose flour
- ½ cup Gram flour
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric
- A pinch of salt
- Peel and cube potatoes.
- Boil for 5 minutes until lime juice is well mixed, then set aside.
- Combine and toss all-purpose flour, gram flour, turmeric, and salt in another pot.
- Add the water and mix well until lump-free. Transfer the mixture to a pan and start cooking it slowly under medium heat stirring constantly.
- When the mixture becomes heavy, add drained potatoes, stirring for at least 5 minutes, and then leave to boil a few more minutes.
- To make the mix, you add a choice of your toppings and serve.
- Toppings typically include – diced onions, boiled eggs, potato dumplings, fried cassava shavings, bhajias, tiny beef skewers, fried meatballs, chilies, coconut chutney, tamarind sauce, and garnish with coriander sprigs. You can even add sliced octopus tails!