Evenings at Forodhani Gardens


This was something Astrid and I quickly discovered the first night and just kept returning. Overlooking the ocean, around 5 pm, guys would start setting up booths and tables in the gardens area where there was plenty of open space for the crowds this daily evening event attracts plus grass and tree areas with many benches tables and chairs. As the sun began to set food was being prepared, so that come sundown the lanterns were lit and everything in full swing.

Each table was decorated with something different: fresh fruits, kebabs, octopus and squid, fresh naan, grilled bananas. Some men turned cranks to make sugar cane juice, handing you the frothy drink after squeezing lemon and ginger into it. Zanzibar pizza was a wonderful discovery- chapati dough rolled out and topped with tomatoes, onions, peppers, ground beef, cheese, mayonnaise, and then cracking an egg on the top and scrambling. This was then set on a griddle- flipped like a pancake until golden.


Once you picked your food it was prepared, or roasted in front of you and then you could go find a seat looking out over the water to enjoy a cheap, fresh meal. The funnest thing for me was to pick one thing at a time- get one food, sit down, try it, then go back for something else. It was like having courses of samples!




Zanzibar Pizza
Adapted from A Taste of Zanzibar: Chakula Kizuri
Serves 6

  1. 2 cups flour
  2. ½ teaspoon salt
  3. ½ cup water (plus more, if needed)
  4. Vegetable oil, for coating dough and frying
  5. 1 medium onion, minced
  6.  small tomatoes, chopped
  7. 1 cup cabbage, finely shredded
  8. 3 fresh chilies, deseeded and minced
  9.  1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
  10. 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  11. 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  12. 6 eggs
  13. Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Tomato chutney and/or hot sauce, for serving
1. Sift the flour into a medium bowl and add the salt. Pour in the water, adding more, if necessary, to create a smooth dough.

2. Knead the dough for three minutes, and then divide it into six equally-sized balls. Place the dough balls in a shallow dish, rub plenty of vegetable oil over them, and cover the dish. Let the dough sit for two hours.

3. Stretch the dough into a very thin 10-inch / 25-centimeter circles, making sure that the edges are thinner than the centers. Place 1/6 of each topping (onion, tomato, cabbage, chili, garlic, ginger and cilantro) in the center of each circle.

4. Fry the eggs separately until they are just set, and then adding one to each pizza. Grind salt and pepper over everything, to taste. Then, fold the top and bottom sides of the dough to the center, and close the dough package by folding in the left and right sides. Make sure there are no holes in the dough or any cracks where egg or filling could escape.

5. Cook the pizza packages, using as little vegetable oil as possible, in a fry pan over medium-low heat. You want to cook the pizzas until the dough is toasty-brown on both sides and the fillings are warmed through, all while making sure that runny egg doesn’t escape during the process of flipping the pizza. About eight minutes of cooking on one side, and three on the other.

Serve hot, with a spoonful of tomato chutney or hot sauce on top and, if you desire, a garnish of extra cilantro and minced chilies.



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