Zanzibar Spices and Heritage Centre – Overview, History, Fruits and More

Zanzibar Spices and Heritage Centre – Overview, History, Fruits and More

The Spice Island, Zanzibar evokes tantalizing, exotic aromas and rich, stirring flavors in keeping with its namesake. Zanzibar is one of the world’s most unusual gastronomic destinations because of the wide variety of spices grown. Nature’s supermarket is another appropriate name for it. Reading further into this article will teach you more about Zanzibar Spices.

What is the Origin of Zanzibar’s Nickname, “Spice Island”?

Its often referred to as the “spice island zanzibar” because of the abundance of cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon, amongst others cultivated on the islands, a phrase taken from Indonesia’s Maluku Islands.

zanzibar spice island has warm and humid climate, combined with the rich volcanic soil, provides ideal conditions for spice cultivation. The spice island of zanzibar plantations offer visitors the opportunity to explore and learn about the cultivation, harvesting, and processing of various spices.

 Zanzibar Spice Tours are available for anyone who wants to learn more about these Zanzibar spices and tell their differences in both farms and wilds, even if already familiar with them on a physical and a sensory level. In Zanzibar, a trip there to view the varieties of Zanzibar spices is a must-do activity.

Read more about zanzibar island spice here:

On the Other Hand, Zanzibar Was Not Quite This Steamy When It All Began; What Happened?

The History of Zanzibar’s Spices

Merchants plying the Indian Ocean route brought spices to Zanzibar. Chinese, Persian, and Indian civilizations were built on the Assyrian, Sumerian, and Egyptian foundations. Many more groups made trips to Zanzibar over the years. There was a wide variety of flora & fauna brought to the island by these people worldwide leading to the birth of all Zanzibar spices. However, Zanzibar’s evolution into a Spice Island was mostly Portuguese. All they could rumble was, “For Christ and spices!” when Vasco da Gama and his troops landed on the island.

In addition, the island’s lush soil and tropical climate helped the Zanzibar spices thrive. Because cloves were worth more than gold in 1832, Omani Sultan Seyyid Said moved his empire’s capital from Muscat to Stone Town. Because spices could only be obtained from foreign countries, they were seen as a symbol of wealth because they could not be obtained by everyone. Before introducing the refrigerator, spices like cloves were also used to cure and preserve meats.

Sultan Seyyid Said
Sultan Seyyid Said

The value of spices has steadily increased over time. They were often included in wills alongside other valuables as a gift from the state.

Due to increased demand, a heated battle for control of the shipping routes used to transport spices to Europe erupted. On the other hand, the Europeans were far more prosperous and technologically advanced than the Arabs, who established camps in Zanzibar due to the availability of a variety of Zanzibar spices. Slavery was outlawed on the island, and the spice trade took over as the island’s principal source of income and global trade.

Zanzibar Spice Trade

The spice trade played a significant role in the history and development of Zanzibar. The trade of spices of Zanzibar was dominated by Arab and Persian traders who established trade routes and networks connecting the island with the Arabian Peninsula, India, and other parts of the world. Arab traders, in particular, played a significant role in the spice trade and influenced the culture, architecture, and language of Zanzibar.

Spice Market Zanzibar

The Zanzibar spice market, also known as the Darajani Market, is a bustling and vibrant place where locals and tourists come together to experience the sights, sounds, and aromas of Zanzibar’s spice trade. Located in Stone Town, the historic heart of Zanzibar City, the market offers a fascinating glimpse into the island’s rich spice heritage.

Spice Plantation Zanzibar

The Zanzibar spice plantation offers a captivating experience, where visitors can explore lush fields of aromatic spices, learn about their cultivation and harvesting processes, and immerse themselves in the island’s rich spice heritage.

There are multiple spice farms in Zanzibar. They offer guided tours where visitors can witness the cultivation of a wide range of spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and vanilla.

Check out the spice farm tour Zanzibar here:

Is Zanzibar a Sovereign Territory?

Although Zanzibari Island does not have a government, it can provide for its needs. Originally separate states, Zanzibar and Tanganyika formed the United Republic of Tanzania after merging. Zanzibar retained a semi-autonomous status inside the union.

The Available and Common Zanzibar Spices

The island’s tourism sector relies heavily on spice farm visits. It’s common for a guide to lead guests on a tour of Zanzibar spices plantations, where they examine each plant, sample berries, and seeds, and hear about the plant’s history. Nonetheless, here are some of Zanzibar’s most popular spices before we get into the specifics of spice tours.


One of the most valuable Zanzibar spices. The Vanilla spice is the only plant in the orchid family that bears fruit. It’s a delightful and sweet spice grown on farms and supported by structures. The Aztecs used this spice in their dishes and beverages after traders brought it to Zanzibar from Mexico in ancient times.

This labor-intensive process deterred and meant that vanilla could not spread to other countries without the ability to cultivate it.

The vanilla blossom, which blooms for an average of 24 hours, was previously pollinated by only one genus of bees located in Mexico. However, in 1841, farmers discovered a way to pollinate the plant growing in other countries. The second most costly spice globally, Saffron comes in after number one, “Vanilla.” Because of its high cost, the flavor is also synthesized to mimic the original; nonetheless, it will never have the same sweetness as real vanilla.


Nutmeg is not a part of the nut family, despite its name. Seeds from the Myristica scent tree, which are native to Asia, are the source of this product.

Taking a small amount of this category of Zanzibar spices promotes digestion and induces sleep, but if consumed in large quantities, it has an intoxicating effect and was utilized as a narcotic by ancient civilizations. The intoxicating impact is further enhanced by hallucinogens in this spice. When taken in excess, nutmeg can cause unconsciousness and death. Pregnant women and toddlers should avoid consuming nutmeg because of this.


The bark of the Ceylon cinnamon tree is used to make cinnamon. The amazing plant of the Zanzibar spices group is most commonly gathered from the tree’s limbs.

The branches are chopped and submerged for up to two days after that. They peel away the outer bark until just the inner section is left. Followed by slicing and drying the bark’s inner bark, the rolls are made. Therapeutic effects of cinnamon include aiding digestion and boosting metabolism. Weight-loss programs can also benefit from it. The plant’s roots and leaves are used in calory reduction, while the flower blooms make cinnamon syrup and oil.


Cardamom growing in Zanzibar
Cardamom growing in Zanzibar

Zanzibar is also a major producer of this spice, used extensively in local dishes. Although cardamom can be smoked, it is most commonly used as a breath freshener. There are two types of cardamom: green and black. A rare and expensive category of the Zanzibar spices, the price per gram of green cardamom is quite high.


When used in moderation,  pepper one of the largely grown Zanzibar spices provides a wide range of health benefits. For centuries, it was viewed as having aphrodisiac characteristics, which is why churches prohibited it.

Even though they are all from the same tree, the berries have unique colorations.

  • White pepper is made by collecting the berries, removing the red skin, and drying the berries.
  • Green pepper is gotten before they ripen; the berries are harvested and briefly marinated or dried.
  • Red pepper berries are left to ripen on the plant before being collected fully and marinated.
  • Black pepper berries are picked before they fully develop and sun-baked for an extended time before being used.


Indian and Sri Lankan lemongrass is indigenous to the region. Traditionally used in Zanzibari cooking, the stalks can also be processed into tea. The health benefits of these Zanzibar spices include metabolism, digestion, flu and colds, and the treatment of blood pressure regulation.


Saffron is notable as the priciest spice globally by weight. Because of the high production costs, saffron is the most exceedingly expensive spice of all Zanzibar spices. Rice and risotto benefit greatly from Saffron, which enhances the flavor of seafood dishes like bouillabaisse and paella. Saffron is known for its delicate flavor, which some describe as honey-like, while others describe it as intense or floral-like.


Due to Seyyid Said’s earlier works on the island, clove is probably the most well-known and readily available spice out of all the Zanzibar spices. Indeed, Zanzibar was once the world’s leading exporter of cloves before Indonesia encroached on its territory. Eugenol, a unique oil found, has been dubbed the “King of Spices” because of its ability to preserve food. Analgesic and antibacterial are only two of the many benefits of clove oil.

Zanzibar Spice Coffee

Zanzibar spice coffee is a unique and flavorful blend that combines the rich taste of coffee with the aromatic spices grown in Zanzibar. It offers a delightful fusion of traditional coffee flavors with the exotic notes of Zanzibari spices.

The Fruits of Zanzibar

Jack tree in Zanzibar
Jack tree in Zanzibar

Apart from having a wide range of Zanzibar spices, Zanzibar is also known for its exotic fruits. Zanzibar is a popular tourist destination. They include, but are not limited to, these:

  • The jack tree, which is related to the fig, breadfruit, and mulberry families, produces jackfruit, which is a tropical fruit. The fruit was brought to the island by traders from India and Malaysia. A unique flavor permeates this luscious fruit. Other health benefits include the treatment of hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, constipation, and ulcers, amongst other benefits.
  • Breadfruit resembles the jackfruit in appearance. From the Maluku Islands, Philipines, and New Guinea, it traveled to the island of Zanzibar. Cooking and eating the fruit raw is an option when it is immature.
  • Pineapples need no introduction; their numerous health benefits include the reduction of arthritis symptoms and a faster recovery after surgery.
  • Passion fruit is another fruit that needs no introduction. The island’s tropical climate and fertile soil help the fruits thrive. Passion fruit is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and alpha-carotene.
  • Durian currently has 30 species of the Durio genus. The fruits were brought to Zanzibar from Thailand and Malaysia during the Indian Ocean maritime commerce peak. On the other hand, the smell can make you rethink eating durian.
  • Natural vitamin C in the plant Aloe Vera has been used for millennia to prevent plaque development. It’s also possible to get Pawpaw, Coconuts, and Banana in Zanzibar.
  • Nearly all of the island’s recipes call for MCT- and fiber-rich coconuts.

Learn more about the fruit and spice zanzibar here:

In Zanzibar, What are the Locals’ Favorite Foods?

Prepared with the combination of all Zanzibar spices It’s a good thing that the cuisine of Zanzibar reflects so many different cultures because it’s a melting pot of Portuguese, Bantu, Arab, Indian, British, and Chinese influences.

Some of Zanzibar’s Best-known Dishes Include:

  • Sorpotel: Portuguese and Indian influences combine in this dish, which includes various boiled meats including tongue, heart, and liver, cooked in a masala-vinegar-tamarind sauce. The result is a flavorful and filling dinner.
  • Boko-Boko: Ginger, cumin, maize, tomato, onion, and chili are the main ingredients, a spicy meat stew that is very popular.
  • Spice cake, a pie flavored with nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and chocolate, is the island’s most popular snack.
  • Pilau meat: Pilau is a spiced rice dish that has its origins in India and the Middle East. Pilau meat is then created by adding additional meat to the mix. A calf, a cow, or a goose can provide the meat for this dish.
  • Pweza wa nazi is translated as “octopus and coconut.” An Indonesian dish of octopus cooked in coconut milk with spices such as cardamom and cinnamon, amongst others.

Taking a Zanzibar Spice Tour is a Great Way to See the Island’s Allure

Excursions to the island’s spice plantations are part of many spice tours. There are several cultivated and wild plants and herbs in the kitchen garden. Taking a Zanzibar spices tour is a great way to see the rest of the country and get to know the locals. A trip to the island isn’t complete unless you take a spice tour, which you should expect.

Zanzibar has a plethora of tour companies, and it’s easy to choose a guide to show you through the world of  Zanzibar spices. Most spice tours include stops at Mount Fuji or the Mangapwani Beaches and excursions to ancient Persian baths.

Hotels and Accomodation

  • Fruit & spice wellness resort Zanzibar
  • Emerson spice hotel Zanzibar
  • Spice island hotel Zanzibar
  • Spice palace hotel Zanzibar
  • Fruit and spice hotel Zanzibar
  • Fruit spice wellness resort Zanzibar
  • Spice island resort Zanzibar
  • Spice hotel Zanzibar
  • Spice island beach resort Zanzibar
  • Spice island hotel and resort Zanzibar
  • Zanzibar Emerson spice hotel

Where to Buy Zanzibar Spices

Other Resources


Are Zanzibar’s Spice Tours Available for a Reasonable Price?

Some farms on the island offer a spice tour Zanzibar price of roughly USD20. Admission for children under the age of seven is free.

What are the spices grown in Zanzibar?

  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Black Pepper
  • Cardamom
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Vanilla

What’s the spice farm Zanzibar entrance fee?

The entrance fee is usually $10 per person.

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