Zanzibar, a small tropical haven off the coast of Tanzania, is one of the most underrated food havens in the world. During ancient times, the island nation was at the forefront of hosting travellers from across the globe. These foreign influences in tandem with local customs, culture, and cuisine gave rise to a unique style of gastronomical wonders that can’t be found anywhere on the planet. So, the next time you travel to this small island nation, below is a list of 7 delicious Zanzibar foods you must try!
Top 7 Zanzibar Food To Not Miss Out On
Similar to a Murtabak, the Zanzibar pizza is a fine crepe with either juicy chicken or sumptuous beef. The mix also includes a generous portion of different veggies that are pan-fried before being folded in the crepe. A single bite of this mouthwatering pocket of meat, juicy goodness is all you need to unravel the mysteries of the rich cultural blend that influences Zanzibar food.
Where to try: The Forodhani Night Food Market in Stone Town
Similar to its Middle Eastern and Asian counterparts, the Zanzibar biryani is a medley of fresh and dry spices. Ginger, cumin, chilli, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon are the spices that go into making this pot of decadence. Along with rice and your own choice of protein which can either be fish, goat or beef. The Zanzibar biryani is technically a pulao as the protein and the rice cook together, soaking the rice in the juices of the meat. Whereas biryani involves layering of rice on top of the meat curry in same container that it rests.
Where to try: Try Zanzibarian staples like biryani and pilau at Luckmaan Restaurant on New Mkunazini Rd.
This is a dish that showcases how India and Portugal have influenced Zanzibar’s culinary delights. Different parts like the heart, liver, and animal tongue are some of the basic ingredients of this meaty treat. A flavorful mix of vinegar, tamarind, and a blend of dry spices adds an extra punch to this dish. This mouth-watering delicacy is cooked for long intervals of time, ensnaring all the flavours into the meaty protein. Sorpotel is best paired with some piping hot steamed rice.
Where to try: At small family-run restaurants
Popular as the Zanzibar mix, this bowl of floury soup has every food snack you can think of. Crispy fried fritters, fried mashed potatoes, coconut chutney, a dash of chilli, and a scoop of cassava shavings are some of the toppings that this soup comes with. Many would call it the African Ramen, for the hodgepodge of all the flavours that it comes with.
Where to try: Dewa & Sons on Royal Road
Zanzibar is popular for its Octopus, which is harvested by ‘octopus hunters’ seen trudging across the coastal flats of Zanzibar. You can even watch these hunters while they hunt for this aquatic invertebrate with spears as they thrive in the coral beyond the seashore. One of the popular delicacies which include octopus as the main source of protein is octopus Mishkaki skewers, an octopus curry cooked with a blend of rich spices and right off the grill.
Where to try: Chumbe Island
Imagine an omelette lined with chunks of fried potato chips, that is Chipsi Mayai. It is the perfect morning decadence that you could ask for when enjoying Zanzibar food. The dish comes with a small serving of yummy ‘kachumbari’ (tomato and onion salad). However, for some additional zing, sprinkle some fresh chillies. Or add some tomato sauce if you like to keep your mornings cool and breezy.
Where to try: Forodhani Gardens
Ideally, not precisely chocolate, these small, diamond-cut treats are the perfect healthy substitute for that cocoa milk compound many of us call chocolate. The sweet and savoury treat is the perfect Zanzibar food. It is a protein bar made using toasted sesame seeds and rich honey. These treats are pocket-friendly, highly addictive, and contain no artificial preservatives. So, munch on!
Where to try: From street vendors