Having a love affair with food is easy in Tanzania where international flavours blend fantastically with locally inspired recipes, and finding a tasty meal doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The country’s island of Zanzibar is also known as the Spice Island so expect to be treated with an explosion of treats to tantilise your palate. Here are some of the top spots and tastes that foodies won’t want to miss.
For a feast of flavour, head to Forodhani Gardens where the evening food markets offer all the tastes of Zanzibar. This small and historic park is located in the heart of Stone Town and is the perfect spot to get to know the locals better and try some great food with a distinctly Zanzibarian flair.
This outdoor café serves traditional Arabic brews in a small courtyard in the heart of Stone Town. It’s also a popular gathering spot where Stone Town’s residents come to drink coffee, nibble traditional peanut brittle, play board games, and discuss politics. Be sure to come here early in the morning if you want to interact with the local community while you grab your coffee. With a casual atmosphere and a great view of the busy streets at the city center, it’s the perfect place to relax and people watch.
This stunning restaurant combines a culinary rainbow of tastes and spices with Zanzibari cooking and the freshest seafood to serve up a match made in heaven. If you’re looking to impress your significant other then best head down to Emerson Spice, where the sensual atmosphere and rooftop views are almost as good as what arrives on the plate. The exotic and beautifully restored old merchant’s building houses two restaurants, and each one will add some spice to your evening.
Meat-loving foodies can spend hours in culinary heaven as they roam the food markets of Tanzania. One of the most popular street foods is nyama choma whichloosely translates to“grilled meat.” It is prepared by taking freshly cut cubes of meat and slow roasting them on a grid over hot coals. Be warned that the meat is not always fish or chicken, but could also be goat. Often these skewers of succulent, char-grilled meat are served with ugali and a variety of other side dishes.
Calling it ‘pizza’ for want of a better word, this combination of veg, egg, mayo and dough all fried to perfection is arguably one of Tanzania’s most popular street foods. It’s a gastronomic snack that you just shouldn’t miss out on when in Stone Town and can be easily found at a street side food stall.
Kick off your day on the right note with a good, strong espresso accompanied by a delightfully sweet pancake or savoury wrap. This little gem is located on the scenic island of Paje, surrounded by turquoise blue sea and white sand. The relaxed, island style vibe and awesome beach views are just the ticket to get you in a holiday mood, while the excellent coffee helps chase away any tiredness from the party the night before.
For the most delicious Ethiopian food outside of Ethiopia head towards Addis in Dar, a terraced garden on the eastern edge of the colonial era Regent’s Estate. Enjoy traditional rituals such as washing your hands on entry and eating around a small round table as you choose your main dishes and sides. Vegetable options such as ek alicha wot (chickpeas sautéed in piquant spices) are particularly flavorsome, while meat lovers can feast on kitfo (raw minced beef and spiced butter) and yebeg alicha wot (slow-cooked lamb). End off a fantastic meal with traditional Ethiopian coffee or some honeyed wine while enjoying the still of the African night.
No-one can say they have properly experienced island life on Zanzibar without trying a fresh, local coconut. Look out for the young men in Stone Town who wander around pulling bamboo carts filled with this delicious fruit. Make sure you get them to cut the coconut open for you with their handy machetes as there’s no other way to get to the inner white fruit that’s nestled inside the hard outer husk. Straight off the tree and into your mouth with freshness guaranteed.
Also sometimes referred to by the locals as ‘chicken on a bonnet’ this restaurant rather unusually doubles as an auto repair workshop during the day. Don’t let that put you off the food though, as Khan’s is said to dish up some of the best, traditional tastes of Africa. The eatery is located on a busy street in Arusha so there is plenty of people watching to do while you enjoy your meal. Communal seating and a friendly atmosphere makes this family run eatery an African experience not to be missed.
This dish is a favourite with Zanzibar locals and can be ordered in many restaurants on the island. The delicately cooked squid is given a uniquely spicy twist with the addition of rich curry powder and creamy coconut milk that combines to produce mind blowing flavours. Fresh and tender octopus is not always easy to come by so take advantage of its availability while you are in Zanzibar. For those travelling on a budget, this delicacy is also a popular street food.
This lively market can be found on the outskirts of Stone Town and is the place to go to purchase nearly any food type or ingredient from around the island. Besides an enormous assortment of spices there is also a fresh fish and meat market as well as other island delicacies. If you are thinking of putting together your own Zanzibar dish then this is definitely your one stop ingredient shop. Ready to eat food is also available.