PROUD to be one of the ‘Spice Islands’, the rich culinary heritage of Zanzibar, with its Swahili, Persian, Portuguese, Arab and Indian influences, is celebrated in the hands of Executive Chef and Zanzibar resident of 21 years, Jussi Husa and his team at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, promising a true culinary adventure to delight, surprise and inspire the most seasoned foodies.
A half-day Spice Tour to a local shamba, or plantation, offers the chance to discover the spices and herbs synonymous with Zanzibar’s rich history, reflecting the island’s status and importance on the ancient trading route. Guests will be introduced to a heady mix of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, green and black pepper and vanilla as well as exotic tropical fruits.
Back at the resort, guests’ new found knowledge on local ingredients can be employed in a Swahili cooking class, led by native Tanzanian chefs Rose Mosha and James Zole. Mosha and Zole share their passion and local insights, demonstrating key techniques and recipes to recreate at home, from Mishkaki, a spiced meat skewer perfect for barbecues, or Pweza a nazi, an octopus curry prepared with coconut.
Chef Jussi believes ingredients should be fresh and local and the best way to understand a destination and its culture is through its cuisine. He and his passionate team are always eager to recommend tailored ways in which to discover the island’s eating. An excursion to the UNESCO Heritage Site of Stone Town showcases the spectacular street food at Forodhani Gardens, where vendors invite shoppers to taste their wares, including the popular makaki ya kulisha or ‘Zanzibar pizza’, a delicious stuffed bread snack, spicy local samosa or simply grilled local Cobia fish, washed down by baobab or fresh sugar cane juice.
A visit to Darajani market offers the chance to sample the cornucopia of exotic fruits, vegetables (gleaming chillies, aubergines and tomatoes, okra, lychees, baobabs) and local fish laid out side by side with sandals, brightly woven fabrics and other treasures in the winding alleys. The perfect digestif comes in the form of a coffee degustation at the Zanzibar Coffee House tasting locally grown artisan coffees.
Avid fishermen – or gourmands looking for ‘line to fork’ eating – have the opportunity to head out in a local fishing boat and try their luck with local fishing materials before returning to the resort to grill their catch.
For a truly indulgent voyage of culinary discovery, each Wednesday evening Chef Jussi hosts a private multi course dinner at the Essque Zalu Chef’s Table. Showcasing a contemporary take on Swahili cuisine, seasonal produce is paired with selected wines from the Southern hemisphere to both compliment local ingredients and keep food miles down.