One of the fastest growing tourist destinations is Zanzibar. Located off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean, the archipelago attracts 170,000 visitors annually, a number that is expected to increase substantially, according to the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors. For many, Zanzibar represents one of the most beautiful places in the world to escape to luxury resorts along scenic, one-of-a-kind Indian coastlines. For others, Zanzibar’s holiday resorts are simply a gateway to the historical wonders of East Africa.
For whatever reason you’re heading to the area’s exclusive resorts, one thing remains the same: you’ll have to eat. As Zanzibar-travel-guide.com points out, Zanzibar was long a trade hub for Arabs, Phoenicians, and others from across the sea. The Ancient Greeks and Romans came to the islands to trade. In the long term, this constant interaction with other peoples shaped the flavors of the island. Whether you love garlic, fish, fresh juice, or Western-inspired potato dishes, the history of Zanzibar means it will have something for you, whether you plan to dine from the room service menus of luxury resorts or you want to explore the fine restaurants in Stone Town.
- Fish Croquettes
- Sugar Cane Juice
- Simmered Garlic Prawns
- Chipsi Mayai
The University of Pennsylvania maintains recipes for traditional recipes from around the African continent. One of these recipes is for Zanzibari fish croquettes, a pan fried ball of fish coated in breadcrumbs. The croquette is made with flaked whitefish and seasoned with saffron, salt, vinegar, red pepper, and a touch of cumin to give the dish an Iberian flavor. If you’re looking for something familiar, look for these at luxury resorts or local restaurants.
Getaway Magazine suggests that of all the food you can have from Zanzibar’s varied street vendors, freshly made sugar cane juice is among the most delicious and most refreshing. The juice is made by squeezing sugar cane through a press. Most versions are flavored with ginger, citrus fruits, or a combination of the two, giving travelers and locals alike a refreshing reprieve from the archipelago’s balmy temperatures.
It seems that the marker of great food cultures is shellfish flavored with garlic, and Zanzibar’s is certainly no exception. Zanzinet.org features a traditional recipe for the region’s particular version of garlic shrimp. Garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, shrimp, and chili peppers all marinate together for several hours before being stir-fried with some eggs in a hot pan. While you might shy away from spicy food in a hot location, the sweat you’ll work up will actually help cool you down.
Chipsi mayai, or french fries cooked into an omelette, is not likely to be found at many hotels in Zanzibar. According to Mambo Magazine, the dish is commonly served from street vendors but rarely makes an appearance at any of the islands’ all inclusive beach resorts, regardless of whether they’re run-of-the-mill or high-end luxury resorts. While the pairing is admittedly strange, it’s truly no different in flavor or texture than scrambled eggs served with a side of home fries.
To many, travelling to a foreign country can be intimidating, especially when food is concerned. However, thanks to the unique history of Zanzibar, the food here is not so different from that enjoyed by people across the world. To learn more, read this.