Last time, I took you on a whirlwind tour of Stone Town in an episode dedicated to the late, great Anthony Bourdain. I feasted high above Stone Town’s meandering alleys and dined in some notable restaurants. Today, it’s all about street level cooking: plastic stools, humble one-woman shows, breakfast with locals, cold fruity drinks, and of course, fantastic local street food.
For my first stop, I duck out of a short summer rain into an unnamed locale tucked behind the main market. For breakfast, I pick out an assortment of mysterious deep friend items from a glass display case, and have it all served on top of a thin omelette. Accompanied by some Indian influence such as chai or chapatis, if greasy fare such as bacon, eggs, and hash brown is how you start your mornings, then you will find yourself quite comfortable at this establishment. Plus a little mayo and chutney mix helps it all go down a little easier.
If a mashup of deep fried food in the morning is a harsh way for your start the day, then there’s always Lukmaan’s. Lukmaan’s is damn popular, and more importantly, it’s authentic Tanzanian food, and … friendly to your wallet. If you look past the throngs of tourists and the fanny packs seated throughout the restaurant, you’ll see that it’s equally enjoyed by locals.
Unfortunately, the hard realities of vlogging mean that I have to be constantly seeking food variety. Otherwise, I would be perfectly content eating at Lukmaan every day. It’s reliably good.
With breakfast in my back pocket and the rain subsiding, it’s time to deal with the stifling heat of the day. Stown Town is hot. Ridiculously hot. Icky like Southeast Asia hot. So hot that, as you can see, my phone’s camera often has heat stroke. Because of the heat, one does not go on a food rampage during the day. You spend your day by the water, appetite-free, while continually seeking solace in the form of cold refreshments. Fortunately, you have many options.
To start, you could drink a freshly cut coconut outside the Darajani Market for only 1000 shillings. Once you’re done drinking, don’t throw away the coconut. Give it back to the man. He’ll re-carve it, complete with a coconut shell spoon for digging out the delicious coconut meat.
I drank, a lot of coconuts. So many, in fact, that on my last day, I went back and gave the fine purveyor of these delicious coconuts a magic show in gratitude. Want something cold and not alcoholic? This French speaking fellow tells me he knows where the best sugarcane juice in Stone Town is.
After a somewhat unavoidable visit to his friend’s spice stand, I get to the secret juice shack, and yes, it’s ice cold and fantastic. For those of you who make it here, it’s located right in the dala dala bus area. If I knew about this place earlier, I would have skipped a lot of Stoney Tangiwizis.
You see the colours. You know it’s fresh. Stone Town has an abundance of fruit. And what better way to quench your thirst, than with a tropical mix? The safest bet is once again, Lukmaan. They use bottled water in their smoothies and ice, and for that, you’ll have to pay a (!premium, around 5000 shillings a glass.
If you’ve been in Africa longer as I have, then you can head down the street and chance it a local unnamed eatery. This one woman shop is where you can find ugali served, which is a Tanzanian cornmeal staple. But I’m scorching and only here for her juice today, where I’m able fill a bottle for 3000 shillings. And yes, that large, somewhat dirty looking, but refrigerated jug, is where my juice comes from.
With the evening finally returning, a beautiful sunset, the calm Indian Ocean, and a returning appetite greet me. These are the things that make everything right. You know this is the part you waited for. The food.
My first stop is Ma Shaa Allah cafe, located right beside Lukmaan, and a worthy neighbour. Don’t be fooled by the cafeteria style lunches – there’s fine dining to be had in the evening. Come here for the Indian food, stay for the African influences. Everything is done right. The Tandoori is bright red and cooked to perfection. The vegetables still crispy and bright. The rice, fluffy and not oily.
Next up, I head back to the Darajani market, except I cross the street to where a number of street vendors draw my curiosity. It is here that I find plenty of barbecue meat stalls, and most interestingly, urojo soup or Zanzibar Mix. As the name implies, the soup is a tangy mashup with heavy Indian of influences.
Zanzibar mix is curry based soup, often creamy, and could contain chick peas, bhajias, cubes of mangos, eggs, and potatoes. It’s topped off with fresh vegetables, crunchy casava shavings, lemon juice, and spoonfuls of tangy chutney, with squeeze bottles on the side if you want another hit of that chutney. It is simple in appearance, but complex in flavour, which is to say, a delicious mash-up.
As the night descends, the street vendors begin opening shop and illuminating the street with their lamps. The grilled meat is what you would expect, but burgers? Mango chutney fries? I’ve resisted this vendor for weeks on principal before finally giving in, after seeing only locals dine there. To be fair, the food served here is much safer than the grilled offering at Forodani gardens, which I’ve been advised to avoid. It’s good. If only they served beer.
As for the famed Forodani night market? It is, by all accounts, pretty tame during the day, but explodes at night. The food variety is great, but I decide the crepes a try, as they appear unique to the market. Like barbecue? Who does not like barbecue?
It’s been a fantastic night, and I finish my food adventure with a street magic performance for my friends at the night market!