A Sneak Peek of the Zanzibar Food (Zanzibar Cuisine)

A Sneak Peek of the Zanzibar Food (Zanzibar Cuisine)

Zanzibar food reflects various heterogeneous influences resulting from the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural nature of the island and its Swahili heritage. Zanzibar soul food cuisine is a blend of multiple culinary traditions, such as Arab, Bantu, Portuguese, Chinese, British and Indian cuisine.

Early History of Zanzibar Food

The British were the earliest inhabitants of Zanzibar from mainland Tanganyika. These were primarily fishers whose diet constituted seafood, including lobster, oysters, tuna, squid, mackerel, and octopus. More recipes and ingredients introduced by Bantus in the Zanzibar food menu today (some became popular during European occupation) include sweet potatoes, common beans, yams, plantains, and manioc chips.

During the 9th century, Persians, Omanis, and Yemenis started occupying the Swahili Coast, the Zanzibar Archipelago inclusive. They introduced new ingredients and dishes, notably mango, spices, rice, coconut, mango, and citrus. Among the most popular and best food in Zanzibar recipes is pilau (pilaf) rice (a mixture of nuts, spices, rice, and coconuts), a clear reflection of Arab origin.

From the 15th century to the 16th century, Portugal swiftly captured the biggest part of the coast, with Zanzibar inclusive. The most significant influence of the Portuguese on food from Zanzibar was the introduction of what would become the leading staple food of Zanzibar, which includes but is not limited to maize, pineapple, and manioc.

By 1651, the sultan of Oman grabbed control of Zanzibar from the Portuguese. The Omanis introduced new spices and increased the commercial dealings between India and Zanzibar; consequently, India’s recipes included masala, chutney, biryani, fish cakes, curry, and samosa (samosa) came to Zanzibar. Many foreign recipes were modified for preparation with local ingredients, thus leading to a hugely fused “original” cuisine.

A market in Stone Town selling vegetables and food
A market in Stone Town selling vegetables and food

Towards the start of the 20th century, the most significant part of Africa’s Great Lakes area was under British and Germans colonization. These never mixed with the natives as the Indians, Arabs, and Persians, and they didn’t significantly influence Zanzibar food culture; yet, some popular Zanzibar food recipes, including pepper steak, are generically known to have originated from Europe.

After Independence

Post-independence Tanzania created a strong bond with China; Chinese engineers, physicians, and military consultants did visit Zanzibar. Despite just a tiny proportion of the population of Zanzibar today having Chinese backgrounds, some ingredients and recipes, including soy sauce, are popular here.

Food in Zanzibar: Zanzibar Food Prices and Places to Eat

The food prices in Zanzibar depend on the service and experience offered. Adventurous visitors can make a quick stop at any zanzibar food truck in the market or try out the wide array of the zanzibar forodhani food sold on the food stands, as they interact with locals. How about deliveries? Can I get zanzibar food near me delivered to my house? For visitors who prefer to have food at the comfort of their home, Zanzibar food delivery options are available.

The Forodhani Night Food Market Zanzibar

The forodhani night market is a great option for visitors who need a zanzibar food tour. The traditional food in zanzibar showcases heterogeneous influences due to multi-cultural influences. The forodhani food market zanzibar which is located in the stone town is famous for zanzibar street food.  The food market  offers everything from fresh seafood to zanzibar vegetarian food and pizzas which visitors enjoy as they watch the sunset by the seafront. The cost of food in zanzibar can vary based on spending habits. At times, the forodhani zanzibar food prices can also be negotiated between the visitor and the seller.

Zanzibar Halal Food Restaurants

There are plenty of great restaurants in zanzibar that cater to muslim travelers by providing halal food in zanzibar. Here are a few of the best halal food zanzibar restaurants:

The Riu Palace

The Riu palace zanzibar food restaurant offers a mix of swahili and international dishes. All  of the food is halal, and there are plenty of vegetarian options available.

Zanzibar Austin Restaurant

The Austin zanzibar city food restaurant is a great choice for visitors who are looking to explore fresh sea food dishes. The restaurant prepares shrimp skewers, fresh sushi and teriyaki sliders among many more dishes.

Hotel Verde

The hotel is hala-certified and offers halal food options for its guests. The hotel verde zanzibar food menu offers both traditional zanzibar cuisines as well as international cuisines.

Zanzibar Soulfood Restaurant Cleveland

The zanzibar food euclid restaurant in Cleveland is the best and most popular zanzibar soul food downtown restaurant. The restaurant is known for its delicious food and its welcoming atmosphere.

Zanzibar Food Delivery and Pickup at Soul Food Restaurant

The restaurant specializes in southern cuisine and it offers quick and reliable delivery services. 

Examples of Zanzibar Food

Following are seven examples of the most delicate Zanzibar foods/ dishes which you can order through the food delivery zanzibar options available in the island:

Spice Cake

This spice cake is a popular dessert in the Zanzibar food market. It’s a pastry with a mixture of clove, cinnamon, chocolate, and nutmeg.

Spices for sale in Stone Town
Spices for sale in Stone Town


A Zanzibar food recipe with Portuguese-Indian (Goan) origin, it’s a mixture of cooked meat; to the locals, this includes liver, tongue, and heart. This meal is prepared with masala (blended spices like curry), vinegar, and tamarind.

Date with Hazelnut Bread

ItThis is bread with dates, hazelnuts, eggs, and vanilla. It is the most preferred zanzibar traditional food when celebrating the end of Ramadhan.


It is a traditional zanzibar food made of meat stew cooked in ginger, maize, cumin, chilli, onion, and tomato.

Pepper Shark

Among the most local kinds of food in Zanzibar, pepper shark seafood preparation is with pepper plus other spices.

Pilau Meat

A Zanzibar Indian food usually cooked with goose (cow or calf) meat prepared with onions, potatoes, coconut, spices, rice, and coconut milk.

In Swahili, this phrase translates to “octopus and coconut,” which refers to octopus that has been cooked in coconut milk with curry, cinnamon, cardamom, garlic, and lime juice.

For more articles related to zanzibar local food, Zanzibar food near me recommendation and Tanzania Food Recipes, click here! 

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