Sambaza: The Irresistible Delicacy

“Three days without bugari and sambaza, I would start doubting my husband’s earning ability or his love for me.”
Sambaza at its best.
Sambaza at its best.

“Three days without bugari and sambaza, I would start doubting my husband’s earning ability or his love for me.”

Like they say, traveling is discovering. Had I not traveled to Cyangugu, I wouldn’t have discovered my best dish in the whole wide world, sambaza!

In Kigali, sambaza is unpopular while, up in the country at the Lake Kivu shores it is a gifts—sambaza is as common as grass.

This little silver-like fish became my darling, the moment I discovered how tasty it was. God must have thought a little harder when he was creating them. When I first went to Rubavu Motel looking for a snack, I barely expected anything apart from the ordinary, beef, tilapia, goat meat, and fries.

And when the waitress surfaced with a menu including an uncommon dish, I immediately tied it out. Thanks to my adventurous nature.

Many people eat sambaza for the first time and can’t stop going back for more. Infact, they always look forward to visiting Kibuye and Cyangugu, not because they like the place, but rather they fell in love the dish.

Sambaza can be prepared as stew, accompanied with Bugari (mingled cassava flour), rice or any other local foods. The most common way of serving sambaza is when its deep fried, with French fries and salad as an accompaniment. Prudent chefs also prepare sambaza with white onions and the taste is awesome.

Where I live in Cyangugu, Sambaza has solved diet problems since these tiny fish are said to be rich in both proteins and vitamins.

Sambaza is cheap. Prices range from Rwf100 and more depending on the restaurant.

Meanwhile, there are many stories emphasizing the taste of Sambaza. In Cyangugu it’s said that some women would rather divorce their husband rather than spend a week without him bringing Sambaza home.

“Three days without Bugari and sambaza, I would start doubting my husband’s earning ability or his love for me,” says Josiane Mukakabera, a married woman.

Indeed Sambaza is a sign of love! The best dish that one can serve a beloved one. Last week when I went to Nkombo Island, I ironically asked what they would serve me if I stayed for the night with them.

“Of course sambaza. That’s the only thing you can ever give to a person who travels long distances to come and visit you,” said one Marian Nyabyenda.

Just as visitors are welcomed with tea and bread in Kigali, at this island its deep-fried sambaza, served with lemon and tea. For children who perform well at school, the only reward is sambaza!

For first time visitors, the sweet aroma of this silver fish will be one of the reasons to bring them back.

Meanwhile, fresh sambaza also exists in Kigali but at a dear price of at least Rwf2000, per kilogram. Sambaza can be boughtat Remera, outside the park. Some super markets in town also deep fry sambaza and sell it at a slightly higher price.

It’s high time you became part of the sambaza club; the taste is too good to be ignored, even if it means travelling long distances to take a bite.

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