Looking for the best food in Zanzibar? Eat with us! Our hosts welcome you for a traditional Zanzibar lunch or dinner at their homes.
Experience the authentic Swahili foods not often found on restaurant menus. To learn more about what to expect at our Zanzibar meals and to meet some of our hosts, check out our Stories web page.
Ready to eat? Book your meal today using our website “Book Now” page. We are in several locations around the islands. See our maps below. All of our Zanzibar invitations include transportation so that you don’t need to worry about getting lost. Karibu chakula!
Bookings through our website close 48 hours before the meal. Missed your chance? WhatsApp us at +255788664508 to see if we have a last minute seat for you.
Feel at home with our friendly hosts!
Here are phrases you will hear at our Zanzibari homes:
- Habari za jioni? (How is the afternoon/evening?), which is answered “Nzuri” (good) or “Salama” (peaceful)
- “Shikamoo” (a very formal way to greet someone with respect), to which you answer “Marahaba.”
- Karibu chakula. (You are welcome to eat.)
- Chakula kiko kitamu sana. (The food is very good.)
- Nimeshiba. (I’m full.)
- Asante / Shukran. (Thank you.)
Ready to eat? Learn these Zanzibar Culture, Cuisine, & Connection Tips
All the Jiranileo Zanzibar meals come with water and fresh juice that are safe to drink.
Swahili is spoken in all the Jiranileo homes. Our hosts might not speak English, but there will always be someone there who speaks English and can help translate. We also have a translated list of common words at the home.
It is polite to remove your shoes at the doorway to the house (but only if you are comfortable.)
In Zanzibari culture, people eat while sitting on clean mats on the floor. If you feel more comfortable sitting in a chair or at a table, speak up. The hosts are more than happy to accommodate you.
Please ask permission before taking photos of anyone, adults or children. (However, we do encourage you to be food paparazzi!)
Careful with the hot sauce (pilipili). It is HOT, but also delicious.
Follow the host’s lead. If they eat with their fingers, so can you! It is equally fine to ask for a fork or spoon. Culturally the use of the right hand is correct. Try to avoid using your left hand for eating or for passing.
We encourage you to take a bite of any new food. If you are uncertain, we recommend you ask the ingredients because you might feel more comfortable knowing what is in the dish. However, it is equally ok to refuse if you feel uncomfortable with something new.
Women love to cook in bulk, so chances are there will be leftovers, and they will be eaten by someone after you leave. If a host wants to send you with leftovers, you can take them if you want, or you can politely refuse. If they insist you take, and if you do not want to eat them, we suggest you give them to a guard or worker when you arrive back at your hotel.
The Zanzibar Commission for Tourism has additional cultural tips for visitors on their website.