Zanzibari Cuisine: What to eat in Zanzibar?


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Zanzibar's cuisine is, like everything else, the result of its history. In fact, it is in our gastronomy where the different cultures and influences that have passed through the island can best be recognized.

The basis of our gastronomy is the Swahili food, which came to us with the first Bantu inhabitants. They were fishers, mainly, and tuna, mackerel, squids, oysters and lobster became the base of their diet.

By the 9th century, Arabians & Persians colonized the Swahili Coast, including our archipelago, and brought with them new ingredients and flavours: coconut, mango, citrus, and of course, rice. And many spices, that found here the perfect soil to grow.

The Portuguese arrived in the 15th century and brought the same disruption to the Indian Ocean as the Spanish did to the Caribbean. But they also brought new ways of cooking, and new food, such as cassava.

The Omani Sultanate took power in Zanzibar in the mid-seventeenth century, when most "Indian" recipes came in: masala, chutney, curry, fish cakes...

Finally, the British also had their time in Zanzibar, and although they didn't mix with our community as the previous invaders did, they've left behind a trace of European flavours you'll find here and there in Zanzibar cuisine.

So here’s quite a good mix! Now, do you imagine how this fusion-cuisine will taste?


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What to eat in Zanzibar?

Let us show you some of the Zanzibar main dishes:


  • Pepper Shark 🡪 You don't need to go to Japan to eat shark: it's typical seafood here in Zanzibar, and we prepare it with pepper and many other spices.
  • Pilau Meat 🡪 For this dish we cook goose meat (or cow, sometimes) with potatoes, onions, coconut milk and other spices. All along with rice, it’s sooo tasty!
  • Boko-Boko 🡪 Try this spicy stew made of meat, maize, cumin, tomato, onion, ginger and a nice touch of chilli. 
  • Sorpotel 🡪 Did you know this famous Portuguese-Indian recipe (consisting of boiled meat with masala, tamarind and vinegar) it's also typical in Zanzibar?  
  • Baba ganoush 🡪 An Arabian-Mediterranian recipe made of eggplant brought here by the Muslim merchants of the past. 


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And for the desserts, you should ask for:


  • Spice cake 🡪 a delicious pastry made of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and chocolate.
  • Date & Hazelnut bread 🡪 The typical dish when the Ramadhan is over. A tasty bread made of dates, hazelnuts and vanilla mixed with eggs.

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These are dishes we offer in the Dhow Inn Restaurant, along with other national or international dishes, from Italian pizza to grilled Jumbo-size prawns fresh from our seas. 


Just ask us: the table is ready!

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