what type of food do they eat in zanzibar

Introduction to Zanzibari Cuisine

Zanzibar, a picturesque island nestled in the Indian Ocean, is renowned for its rich and diverse culinary traditions. As a melting pot of cultures, Zanzibari cuisine is a fusion of Indian, Middle Eastern, and African influences, resulting in a tantalizing array of flavors and spices.

Zanzibar’s Staple Foods

The staple foods in Zanzibar typically include rice, cassava, plantains, and sweet potatoes. These nutrient-rich ingredients form the foundation of many traditional Zanzibari dishes.

Spices and Flavorful Ingredients

Zanzibar is famously known as the “Spice Island,” and for good reason. The island is home to an abundance of spices such as cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg, which are integral to Zanzibari cuisine. These aromatic spices infuse the dishes with a burst of flavor and depth, creating an unforgettable dining experience.

Zanzibari Street Food

Exploring the bustling streets of Zanzibar reveals a tapestry of delectable street food offerings. From sizzling kebabs and flavorful samosas to mouthwatering seafood skewers, the vibrant street food scene is a testament to the island’s culinary prowess.

Popular Zanzibari Dishes


One of the most beloved dishes in Zanzibar is biryani, a fragrant and aromatic rice dish infused with a medley of spices, tender meats, and caramelized onions. This flavorful delicacy is a testament to the Indian influence on Zanzibari cuisine and is a must-try for any visitor to the island.

Samaki wa Kupaka

Samaki wa kupaka, or coconut fish curry, is a quintessential Zanzibari dish that showcases the island’s abundant seafood. The fish is marinated in a rich and creamy coconut sauce, creating a harmonious blend of savory and sweet flavors that is simply irresistible.

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Pilau, a spiced rice dish often prepared with meat or vegetables, is a staple at Zanzibari dining tables. The fragrant aroma of pilau, infused with cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon, is a testament to the island’s reputation as the Spice Island.

Specialty Beverages

Spiced Tea (Chai)

Zanzibar’s spiced tea, known as chai, is a soothing and aromatic beverage that is a popular part of the island’s culinary culture. The tea is infused with a blend of spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, creating a warm and comforting drink that perfectly complements the island’s flavorful cuisine.

Fresh Coconut Water

Zanzibar’s tropical climate makes it the perfect environment for cultivating an abundance of coconuts. Fresh coconut water is a refreshing and hydrating beverage that is a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike. The sweet and nutty flavor of the coconut water provides a delightful respite from the island’s tropical heat.


In conclusion, Zanzibari cuisine is a harmonious blend of diverse flavors, aromatic spices, and fresh ingredients. The island’s culinary heritage is a reflection of its rich history and cultural influences, resulting in a vibrant and tantalizing food culture that is a delight to explore and savor. Whether it’s savoring the fragrant aromas of biryani, indulging in the creamy goodness of samaki wa kupaka, or sipping on a refreshing glass of spiced tea, Zanzibar offers a culinary experience unlike any other.


What makes Zanzibari cuisine unique?

Zanzibari cuisine is unique due to its blend of Indian, Middle Eastern, and African influences, resulting in a rich and diverse culinary heritage that is reflected in its flavors and spices.

What are the staple foods in Zanzibar?

The staple foods in Zanzibar include rice, cassava, plantains, and sweet potatoes, which form the foundation of many traditional Zanzibari dishes.

What beverages are popular in Zanzibar?

Popular beverages in Zanzibar include spiced tea (chai) and fresh coconut water, which offer a refreshing and flavorful complement to the island’s cuisine.

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What are some must-try dishes in Zanzibar?

Some must-try dishes in Zanzibar include biryani, samaki wa kupaka, and pilau, each showcasing the island’s unique blend of flavors and spices.

How does Zanzibari cuisine reflect the island’s history?

Zanzibari cuisine reflects the island’s history through its fusion of cultural influences, such as Indian, Middle Eastern, and African, resulting in a vibrant and diverse culinary heritage.