Students learn about about Swahili culture through international cooking workshop at UTM

January 3, 2023

Members of UTM’s Global Living-Learning Community (LLC) enjoyed an international cooking workshop at Oscar Peterson Hall on November 30. Professor Sarah Hillewaert invited friend and special guest Zeinab Al-Baity to the UTM campus to lead the workshop and teach Global LLC students about a few Swahili dishes, some Swahili words, and to talk about the historical connections between the east coast of Africa and the Indian Subcontinent and the Arab world – influences that are also evident in the food that was prepared. The menu featured an array of appetizing and colourful dishes:

  • Viazi vya donge (fried potatoes with some hot chili in between);
  • Mahamri (fried coconut bread);
  • Kaimati (very similar to timbits!);
  • Biriani ya kuku, or chicken biriani (Kenyan-style);
  • Beef samosa (Kenyan-style);
  • Kenyan chai, made with cinnamon, cardamom, and a few other spices.
Students roll dough and cook food at a stove.​
Students rolled dough and prepared Kenyan-style Swahili recipes at a special Global LLC international cooking workshop at UTM. Photos © S. Hillewaert. All rights reserved.

Zeinab, who came from Kenya and now lives in Canada, prepared the biriani at home, and had done much preparation work for the other recipes. During the workshop, students learned how to roll out and cut the mahamri, as well as fry the kaimati, the viazi vya donge, and the mahamri. The workshop was a wonderful opportunity for the first-year domestic and international UTM students who comprise the Global LLC to learn about Swahili culture and enjoy a delicious meal together in a celebratory setting.

Global LLC students have a shared interest in internationalizing their residence experience and becoming global citizens. Together, they develop intercultural perspectives as they learn about global, local, and environmental issues. ANT102H5F (Introduction to Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology) is the recommended course for participants in this LCC, and students enrolled in the course had already heard about East Africa and Swahili culture at several points throughout the fall term when Professor Hillewaert was discussing her research. Therefore, the cooking workshop with Zeinab was an excellent way to conclude the term!

students enjoy Swahili meal they prepared
Students enjoyed a delicious Swahili meal they prepared under the guidance of a special guest instructor at UTM. Photos © S. Hillewaert. All rights reserved.