The food culture and the availability of certain products make it interesting for chefs to work in Zanzibar. The cuisine of Zanzibar is often referred to as very fresh.
Zanzibarians buy fish that was caught today and they cook it the same day. They will buy meat that is killed this morning. And the spices are really fresh, fresh cloves are amazing.
Almost nothing is packaged or bought in the supermarket. Everything comes directly from the farmer or fisherman. Another typical and widely used ingredient of Zanzibar cuisine is coconut.
Key differences between Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania in the cuisine is that in Zanzibar they use a lot less oil, more spices and seafood rather than meat.
One of the favorite ingredients for the chefs to work within Zanzibar is the seafood, because of the variety and the freshness. Local fishermen catch the seafood both day and night, depending the type of seafood, typically preparing and selling on the same day. it’s possible to see fishermen selling their catch just as they land on the beach.
It’s fairly common to see fishermen sitting on the beach with a freshly caught octopus. They rub it into the sand and beat it with a wooden stick to make the meat tender.
In South Africa the fish always comes on ice in a cooler box. But when I received fish here, this little dude came on a scooter with a bucket with three big fishes inside. No ice or whatsoever. This looked a bit strange, but the thing is, when the fisherman catch the fish and they arrive on the beach, they put it in a bucket and they bring it away.
The big variety of spices and the excessive presence of coconut trees make spices and coconuts a huge part of Swahili cuisine. Besides the seafood, coconut and spices, Zanzibar also offers a huge variety of fruits, like jackfruit and mango.
I didn’t know what jackfruit were like, so I ordered twenty jackfruits. When they arrived the guys were bringing me these big fruits and they could only carry one per guy. They are so big! I had to use jackfruit for everything, and I couldn’t stand it anymore. Now I order 1 jackfruit for 2 weeks, which is enough.