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A Guide to the Best Food in Zanzibar

Zanzibar is an island off the east coast of Africa, known for its stunning white beaches, friendly locals and, most importantly, its incredible food. The intricate flavors of Zanzibar cuisine combine traditional Swahili and Indian influences to create a unique and unforgettable culinary experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. From seafood dishes to street food snacks, here is a guide to the best food in Zanzibar.

Seafood

No visit to Zanzibar is complete without tasting the seafood. From juicy prawns to succulent lobster, the seafood here is fresh and delicious. One of the most popular dishes is Zanzibar prawns, which are cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and served with coconut rice. For a more traditional experience, try the Pweza wa nazi, which is a whole grilled octopus served with a lime and chilli dressing. You can also find plenty of other seafood dishes such as grilled fish, calamari and mussels.

If you’re looking for a light snack, head to the Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town and grab a plate of grilled calamari or prawns. They are served with a spicy chilli sauce and are the perfect way to get your daily dose of seafood without having a heavy meal.

Whatever seafood dish you choose, you can be sure that it will be fresh, flavourful and cooked to perfection.

Spice Tours

Zanzibar is known as the ‘Spice Island’ for a reason – the island is home to a wide variety of spices and herbs. A great way to learn more about Zanzibar’s spices is to take a spice tour. These tours take you to the local markets and farms where you can see, smell and even taste the spices. You will learn about the different types of spices and how they are used to create the unique flavors of Zanzibar cuisine.

The tours also give you a chance to sample some of the local dishes, such as the spicy rice and beans dish called wali wa nazi. You can also find plenty of street food snacks such as samosas, kachori and pakoras. All of these dishes can be found in the local markets, so make sure to have a wander around and try some of them.

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Spice tours are a great way to learn more about Zanzibar’s spices and get a taste of the local cuisine.

Curry Dishes

Zanzibar’s cuisine is heavily influenced by its Indian heritage, and you can find plenty of delicious curry dishes around the island. A popular dish is the Zanzibari biryani, which is a rich and fragrant rice dish cooked with spices and served with a curry sauce. You can also find plenty of other curry dishes such as chicken tikka masala, beef vindaloo and lentil dhal.

For a more traditional experience, head to the Darajani market in Stone Town and try the pilau. This is a spicy rice dish cooked with meat, vegetables and spices. It is served with a spicy tomato and onion sauce and is the perfect lunchtime snack.

Curry dishes are a great way to get a taste of Zanzibar’s Indian heritage, so make sure to try some while you’re here.

Street Food

Zanzibar is full of delicious street food snacks that you can grab on the go. The most popular snack is the samosa, which is a deep-fried pastry filled with spiced potatoes and vegetables. You can also find plenty of other snacks such as pakoras, kachori and bhajis.

Another popular street food snack is the mahamri, which is a sweet pastry filled with coconut and sultanas. It is usually served with a cup of chai tea and is the perfect way to end your day.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try the Zanzibari pizza, which is a deep-fried dough topped with a spicy tomato sauce and vegetables. It is a unique and tasty snack that you won’t find anywhere else.

Barbecue Dishes

Zanzibar is also home to some delicious barbecue dishes. You can find plenty of meat dishes cooked over charcoal, such as grilled chicken and beef. The most popular dish is the Zanzibari kebab, which is a skewer of beef or chicken marinated in spices and grilled over hot coals. It is usually served with a spicy tomato and onion sauce and is the perfect way to experience Zanzibar’s barbecue culture.

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Another popular dish is the Zanzibari fish curry, which is a fish curry cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and served with coconut rice. It is a rich and flavorful dish that you won’t be able to resist.

Barbecue dishes are a great way to experience Zanzibar’s unique flavors, so make sure to try some while you’re here.

Fresh Fruit

Zanzibar is home to a wide variety of fresh fruit, from coconuts to mangos. You can find plenty of fruit stalls around the island, where you can sample some of the local specialties. The most popular fruit is the Zanzibari mango, which is a sweet and juicy variety that is unique to the island. You can also find plenty of other fruits such as papaya, pineapple and passionfruit.

If you’re looking for something a little more indulgent, head to the beachside restaurants and try the Zanzibari banana split. This is a delicious dessert made with freshly sliced bananas, ice cream and chocolate sauce. It is the perfect way to cool down after a day of exploring the island.

Fresh fruit is a great way to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, so make sure to try some while you’re in Zanzibar.

Desserts

Zanzibar is home to some delicious desserts, from traditional cakes to rich and creamy ice creams. Some of the most popular desserts are the Zanzibari baklava, which is a pastry filled with nuts and spices, and the Zanzibari halwa, which is a sweet pudding made with coconut milk.

For a more unique experience, try the Zanzibari ugali, which is a sweet cake made with mashed bananas and spices. It is usually served with a spicy mango sauce and is the perfect way to end your meal.

Desserts are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth, so make sure to try some while you’re in Zanzibar.

Coffee and Tea

Zanzibar is also home to some delicious coffee and tea. The most popular drink is the Zanzibari chai, which is a sweet and spiced tea made with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. You can also find plenty of coffee shops around the island, where you can sample some of the local blends.

If you’re looking for something a little more unique, try the Zanzibari coffee, which is a blend of coffee and spices such as ginger, cardamom and cloves. It is a unique and flavorful drink that you won’t find anywhere else.

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Coffee and tea are a great way to relax and enjoy the local culture, so make sure to try some while you’re in Zanzibar.

Conclusion

Zanzibar is a truly unique destination, with a cuisine that combines traditional Swahili and Indian influences to create a unique and unforgettable culinary experience. From seafood dishes to street food snacks, Zanzibar has something to offer every type of traveler. Whether you’re looking for a light snack or a full-blown feast, Zanzibar has it all. So, make sure to explore the local markets, take a spice tour and sample some of the delicious food that the island has to offer.