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There is evidence that communities along the Tanzanian coast were engaging in overseas trade by the beginning of the first millennium AD. By 900 AD those communities had attracted immigrants from India as well as from southwest Asia, and direct trade extended as far as China.

 

Tanzania is home to more than 120 ethnic groups, each with its own language or dialect and traditions. Ethnic diversity in Tanzania has been increased by the dynamic interaction between coastal people and traders, missionaries and colonizers from Oman, India, Portugal, Germany and Britain.

 

Local boat KidagaaDuring the first five hundred years the most popular food in Tanzania consisted of sorghum, millets, fruits, fishes, vegetables. In AD 800, the Arabs entered Tanzania and established the trade routes in the country. During this time they introduced and popularized food items like cotton plants, citrus fruits, biriani and pilau. This food became very popular among the people of the coastal areas and Zanzibar. Groundnuts and cassava introduced by the Portuguese also became an important part of the diet of Tanzanian people.
 
Meat is not widely consumed in Tanzania. Sheep, goats and cattle are normally used for their milk. Only during festive occasions they are killed for their meats. The most commonly used meat items are ndayu and nyama choma.
 
The main diet of the Tanzanian people was the pilaf, cornmeal, beans, sorghum and millet. Ugali is the national meat dish of Tanzania. People living in the coastal areas mainly prefer rice and fish cooked in coconut. Some natural grown fruits and vegetables consumed are the pawpaw (papaya), ndizi (bananas), matunda (fruits), beans, spinach and maize. Ndizi kaanga is a famous dish among the Tanzanians.

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