Spice Island History in Zanzibar

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Though the first cloves were planted in Zanzibar in the 18th century, it was the establishment of widespread clove plantations by Sultan Seyyid Said in the 19th century that helped ignite this tropical archipelago’s flourishing spice trade. Here are a few ways to explore the history of Zanzibar’s spice industry.

  • Observe workers in action during the annual harvest at a local shamba (spice farm).
  • Find out more about spice cultivation during tours of rural farms where cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, chili, saffron, and curry leaves are grown. 
  • Take a walking tour of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and learn about how the spice trade attracted a multitude of different cultures to this port city.
  • Inhale the heady scent of countless spices and experience local haggling culture at Stone Town’s bustling Darajani Market.
  • Try dishes prepared using locally grown spices, such as Zanzibar biryani or pilau (spiced rice dishes served with meat and vegetables) or octopus curry, which is typically made using coconut cream and spice blends.
  • Feast on spiced street-food specialties such as urojo (chili-spiked mango-and-tamarind stew) at the night market at Stone Town’s Forodhani Gardens.
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