Tourist food on Zanzibar

Restaurant view

Tourist food on Zanzibar

If you are staying somewhere outside of Stonetown, close to the beach, your best options for food are at one the resorts or restaurants aimed at tourists. There is usually a menu with enough options for vegetarians and definitely for seafood lovers. Fish, meat and curries are often served with a choice of potato fries, sweet potato wedges, white rice, (steamed or curried) vegetables and/or salad. Salads usually contain a mix of cucumber, tomato, onion and/or cabbage. (Since the water is generally safe to drink, it is also safe to eat salads.)

Local beach restaurant with the menu and the owner/cook. You wait quite long for the food, but then you know it's freshly made and nothing goes to waste.

Local beach restaurant with the menu and the owner/cook. You wait quite long for the food, but then you know it’s freshly made and nothing goes to waste.

Curries

The curries we tried were very good and come in two main flavors: with or without coconut, and some variations depending on the spices. They are spiced with local spices and are generally mild. (You can add salt, lime, chili sauce and tomato ketchup by yourself, to make it more ‘tasty’.) I prefer the ones with coconut, because they are more creamy. (Note that it is not ‘pure’ coconut cream; the cans I found in the supermarket contained several artificial¬†ingredients.) There are many types of curries: vegetable (usually paprika, tomato, carrot, eggplant and/or potato, or with spinach), fish, calamari, octopus, prawns, crab, beans or peas. Curries with beef or chicken are less common. Because it is an island, it makes more sense to eat fish and seafood. The fish and seafood curries may or may not have vegetables added to them. (Pork is nowhere for sale, because islam is the main religion on the island.)

The curries are best eaten with (white) rice, that also comes in different flavors: with spices, with coconut, with chili, with vegetables, but mostly as plain white rice. It is also common to eat chapati with your curry. Chapati is a type of bread made of flour, salt, water and vegetable oil, then fried in a bit of vegetable oil.

These are some of the curries we ate:

Octopus and vegetable curry

The octopus curry was very tender and had a lot of vegetables. It was a bit spicy and the sauce had a base of tomato. The vegetable curry had several vegetables and quite a lot of potatoes.

Bean curry

The (kidney) bean curry tasted very much like coconut and had a bit of tomato base. It was served with plain white rice and a bit of salad. It was a tasty combination.

Vegetable curry with chapati

Vegetable curry with chapati

Fish curry with steamed vegetables. It originally came with potatoes & vegetables, but I asked for vegetables only and that was no problem. Steamed vegetables are steamed only for a little bit, so almost raw.

Fish curry with steamed vegetables. It originally came with potatoes & vegetables, but I asked for vegetables only and that was no problem. Steamed vegetables are steamed only for a little bit, so almost raw. The curry itself also had some vegetables in it.

Other dishes

Some of the non-curry dishes we ate:

Vegetable soup, with local spices, like cinnamon.

Vegetable soup, with local spices, like cinnamon.

Fish with a crust of coconut and garlic, and then fried, was very delicious. It came with some vegetables in curry sauce and fried potatoes.

Fish with a crust of coconut and garlic, and then fried, was very delicious. It came with some vegetables in curry sauce and fried potatoes.

Fried lemon fish with sweet potato

Fried lemon fish with sweet potato: the panfried fish had no bones and was very tasty. It was a bit spicy and was flavored with lemon and garlic. The sweet potato wedges were a bit dry, but tasted good with a bit of salt and mayonaise (or ketchup if you wish). The salad consisted of tomato and cucumber with a pesto & balsamico dressing (with some unnatural ingredients). The whole dish was covered in fresh parsley.

Tuna with steamed vegetables: the tuna came with a very tasty red wine sauce. Don't expect tender rare/medium tuna steaks (if it is even tuna, you never know...), everything is thoroughly cooked in these places.

Tuna with steamed vegetables: the tuna came with a very tasty red wine sauce. Don’t expect tender rare/medium tuna steaks (if it is even tuna, you never know…), everything is thoroughly cooked in these places.

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