A Tanzanian Thanksgiving

Written by Thomson Safaris

avocado salad recipe from jody adams

Tanzania might not actually celebrate Thanksgiving – but that doesn’t mean we can’t still be inspired by our favorite place this holiday season!

So we crafted a very special Thanksgiving menu. If you’re missing Tanzania, are bored with conventional menu items, or just looking to incorporate some different flavors, think about trying this Tanzanian Thanksgiving this year!


Start with a sundowner

cranberry sundowner cocktail
This sundowner recipe comes from our Thomson Safaris Boston office. This time of year, when the weather starts to get chilly and the leaves have all fallen from the trees, we all can’t help but wish we were back in the Serengeti. So with the abundance of local cranberries, we use this cocktail recipe to remind us of those Serengeti sunsets! And since gin & tonics were the original sundowner thanks to the quinine in tonic treating malaria, we thought there was no better way to toast the start of this feast!

Cranberry Orange Thyme Gin & Tonic


  • 1 orange
  • ¼ cup fresh cranberries (plus more for garnish)
  • 3 small sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp sugar (or 1 oz simple syrup)
  • 1.5 ounces gin
  • Tonic water
  • Ice (optional)


  1. Cut a 2 inch strip of rind off the orange, and set aside. Juice one half of the remaining orange, and set aside.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add the orange rind, fresh cranberries, sugar or simple syrup and leaves from 1 sprig of thyme. Muddle together.
  3. Add the gin and fresh orange juice, cover and shake.
  4. Add optional ice to cocktail glass, and pour mixture over. Top with tonic water. Garnish with the remaining 2 sprigs of thyme and a few fresh cranberries.


Savor a warm soup

pumpkin coconut soup recipe
We’re starting off this meal the way all dinners on safari start: with a warm and hearty soup! Coconut and pumpkin is not only a guest favorite at our camps throughout the year – it’s also delightfully seasonal for Thanksgiving dinner! Although this soup is best enjoyed during conversations with your guide while listening to the sounds of wildebeest, conversations with family members will work too!

Tanzanian Coconut and Pumpkin Soup


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water (or stock)
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes (or stock)
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 lb pumpkin pieces)
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp chili powder
    (you can also use 1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice in place of chili and ginger if you’d like)


  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion and garlic in the melted butter until soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes). Stir in the water and bouillon cubes (or stock) into the pot. Cook and stir until the cubes have dissolved (about 2 – 3 minutes).
  2. Stir in the pumpkin puree, coconut milk, orange juice, and spices. Bring to a simmer and cook until heated through (about 5 – 7 minutes).
  3. Puree the soup, using either a blender or an immersion blender. If using a blender, puree in batches and return to a clean pot.
  4. Return the pureed soup to medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook another 10 minutes.


Salads come second

avocado salad recipe from jody adams

This fresh and colorful salad comes to us from Jody Adams. In addition to being a James Beard award-winning chef and restauranteur in Boston and advocating for restaurants during COVID-19, Jody also hosts our Taste of the Wild safari! From using local ingredients to cooking in the camp kitchens with our staff, Jody is no stranger to making the flavors of safari come alive. The fruits, spices and colors in this salad will bring some welcomed excitement to the table!

Avocado with Spicy Mango-Peanut Chutney


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup minced ginger
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • ¼ cup lime juice, if necessary
  • 2 tbsp sugar, if necessary
  • 1 tsp chopped hot chili
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups fresh mango, chopped into ¼ inch dice (a mix of ripe and green is nice)
  • ½ cup toasted chopped peanuts
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 lime, cut into quarters
  • Cilantro sprig for garnish
  • Chapati



  1. Heat oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic and cook 3 minutes. Add cumin, salt, lime juice, sugar, chili, and ¼ cup water and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the mango and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Add the peanuts and chopped cilantro.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings for salt, sugar, and hot chili. It should be sweet and sour and spicy.
  4. Peel and slice the avocados and fan out on a platter. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Top with the chutney, and garnish with the lime quarters and cilantro sprigs.
  6. Serve with Chapati.


Move on to the main

dinner at gibbs farm

For the main course and star of the meal, we looked to none other than the star of our safaris: Gibb’s Farm. We all may not have the same expansive gardens or stunning vistas, but we can still enjoy this stunning melody of flavors straight from the chefs at Gibb’s! The slow roasted meat, paired with bright vegetables and thoughtful sides would be just as perfect for Thanksgiving as it would be after a day of wildlife viewing.

Braised Short Ribs with Cabbage and Spicy Tahini Chickpea Mash

Ingredients – Cabbage:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower (or vegetable) oil
  • 1 medium sized red cabbage, cored and shredded
  • Fresh ginger – about 1 inch piece – peeled and grated
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup red wine


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add all ingredients except sugar and wine. Cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the brown sugar and wine. Cover and turn hear to low. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes.


Ingredients – Tahini Chickpea Mash:

  • 1 14 – 15 oz can chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • Dried chili flakes to taste
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Adjust the consistency with Greek yogurt according to preference.
  3. Using either a double boiler or microwave, heat before serving. Add chopped fresh cilantro before serving.
  4. Option additions: try adding boiled sweet potatoes or grated apple to the mixture for more flavor!


Ingredients – Short Ribs:

  • 3 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 ½ tsp espresso powder
  • 4 cloves, whole
  • 3 ½ tsp turmeric
  • 6 short ribs, as a whole
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ¾ cup red wine
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 1 small leek, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme


  1. In a heavy bottomed pan, gently roast the cumin, cardamom, peppercorn, cloves and coriander until fragrant. Combine the roasted whole spices with turmeric and espresso powder in a food processor. Blend until consistent (but not too fine). Patience will be rewarded by using a mortar and pestle instead of a food processor, if you wish.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 F.
  3. Rub the meat with the spice rub you’ve made.
  4. Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil and brown the meat on all sides. Remove the meat and set it aside.
  5. Reduce the heat and add the carrots, shallots and leek. Once the vegetables are slightly caramelized, add the tomato paste.
  6. Continue to caramelize until the vegetables have reached a nice brown color.
  7. Add the red wine and continue to stir and cook until reduced, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, and thyme. Stir, and return the ribs to the pan.
  8. Cover and cook for 2 hours.
  9. Test the meat after 2 hours – when inserting a meat fork, the fork pull out easily. When done, take the meat from the pan and set aside.
  10. Strain the remaining juices into a sauce pan and cook to reduce for a concentrated flavor. If desired, the sauce can also be thickened with corn starch and red wine.
  11. Serve the ribs over a bed of the chickpea mash with roasted vegetables and cabbage.


Conclude with confection

apple crumble recipe from kilimanjaro
To top off our Thanksgiving menu, we went right to the top…of Kilimanjaro! This sweet ending comes straight from the Kili kitchens. Of course, there aren’t exactly ovens at 19,341′, so we’ve adjusted this recipe slightly so it will be easier to cook at home. Cooking on a single burner stove in a tent might not be the challenge anyone needs this Thanksgiving!

Apple Crumble with Fresh Cream


  • 3 – 4 medium apples (Gala work well)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup and 1 tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1/3 cup rolled outs
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (or ice cream)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (or ice cream)
  • Optional:
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, almond liqueur, or whiskey
  • ¼ chopped pecans
  • 1 tbsp turbinado sugar



  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease an 8 – 9” baking dish and set aside.
  2. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Add them to a bowl with 1 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and mix until coated. Pour the apples into the baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, ½ brown sugar, and 1/3 cup rolled oats. Add the ½ cup butter, sliced or chopped into small chunks. Mix until evenly coated and moist and all the big pieces have been mixed in (you may need to use your hands). Pour this mixture over the apples, evenly distributing it.
  4. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans and turbinado sugar if you wish. Bake for 40 minutes. The top should be golden and the apples soft.
  5. While the apple crumble is baking, make the whipped cream using a very cold metal or glass bowl, cold beaters, and cold cream.
  6. Pour the cold cream into the cold bowl and beat with a hand mixer until small peaks form (do not overbeat).
  7. Add the sugar and continue mixing until stiff peaks form. If you choose to add flavor, add and mix until combined, but do not overbeat.
  8. Let the apple crumble cool for 10 minutes once baked, and serve with a spoonful of whipped cream (or two scoops of vanilla ice cream!).