Zanzibar Eats

Since I arrived in Zanzibar, or as people here refer to it, Unguja, I have been fortunate to indulge myself in wonderful cuisine. Here in Unguja, there are many popular dishes, such as Ugali which is a maize meal with beans cooked in coconut milk, or Biryani, a mixed rice dish with different meats. For me everything is so good, and so many cuisines are widely consumed, that I can’t say that I have found that any one dish separates itself from the rest in terms of being the “dish of the island.” In the time I have been here I have had no trouble whatsoever in adjusting to new foods. The ingredients used for Unguja’s cuisine come from the island’s markets. Most everything is home grown here on the rice, spice, fruit, and animal farms. While eating here it is very important to respect the culture, which is predominantly Islamic. It is nearly impossible to find a restaurant that serves pork or to find an animal farm that even has pigs for that matter. That being said, people here including myself will not hesitate to eat other types of nyama (meat).

So far, I have eaten at many restaurants, but none of them touches the cooking of my host mother, Mama Adila. Mama Adila has been delightfully sharing the Zanzibarian cuisine culture with me every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since Unguja is an island, there is a wealth of fish and other seafood that makes the diet varied, healthy, and filled with freshness. Many of the people in my neighborhood of Kikwajuni are seamen so Mama purchases her seafood like fish, squid, octopus, prawns, etc. from them for a discounted price.

Looking out into the ocean in Zanzibar. Photo: Nyakeh Tuchscherer

Here is my favorite dish that Mama Adila cooks: Ngisi na Wali. Ngisi is fried squid tentacles in curry sauce over white rice.

Mama Adila’s Ngisi na Wali. Photo: Nyakeh Tuchscherer

Even when I’m on the run, delicious food is everywhere, easily found on the streets of Stone Town. One of my favorites is Choma and chips, seen here.

Choma and chips. Photo: Nyakeh Tuchscherer

Alternatively, there is always tasty Shawarma to be found.

Shawarma. Photo: Nyakeh Tuchscherer