Food & Drink of the Taita People
From: Aggrey Mtalaki & Margaret Samba
The Taita’s foods include mchunga, kimanga, sweet potatoes, cassavas and bananas (matoke), beans, cowpeas, yarms, ugali and pumpkins and millet. This diet would be supplemented with game meat hunted from the plains. But after the restriction of hunting their staple food became ugali and vegetables (sukuma, mduinga, mchido, muava and mtango).
The sweet potatoes are dug from the ground, then washed, then boiled, and when they are ready they are peeled and consumed with black tea.
About the yarms and cassava, they are first peeled before cooking. In most cases these yarms, cassava and pumpkins prepare a traditional food called kimanga. A mixture of yarms/cassava/bananas/pumpkins with either beans, cowpeas, green grams or peas. After mixing the food contents are mushed until it mixes up. There is also ugali which is eaten with green vegetable, meat or peas. This ugali is prepared from maize flour then cooked with water.
Traditional vegetables are:- mchunga (wild lettuce), mwappa (cassava leaves), kitoja (sweet potato leaves), matosa (yarms leaves), mrenge (pumpkin leaves), termites, voya (mushrooms), sour milk (maria gha kisherinyi), mdonda (dry meat) kisenya (amaranthus), ndunda (black night shade).
The Taitas have traditional alcoholic drinks, the most common drink is called Mbangara brewed from water, sugar/sugar cane, mafundo (maize husk), honey, mratina (catalyst). The drink is called mbangara (local brew). This is taken by men during traditional ceremonies. No alcohol can be consumed without pouring libation.