News from Marafiki

The evening market in Forodhani

In the tropics important things happen after dusk. This is the nicest time – the setting sun gives way to stars, the heat cools down. One can rest, move, start to act.

Every day just after dusk, there is an aromatic smell of food hanging over Stone Town – the capital of Zanzibar. It effectively stimulates the appetite of inhabitants and tourists. This is a sign that the evening market starts in Forodhani Gardens. Salesmen display portable stands in the lanes. In the lights of gas lanterns they prepare kachumbari salad: chopping onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh chilli; they light up provisional barbecues where they lay prawns, octopus and squids as well as shashliks made of fresh catch of fish. They also grill samosas (dumplings filled with meat or vegetables), sesame bread, chapati flatbread and kachori (spicy potato balls). Sour urojo soup simmers in the smoke dimmed pots. It is served with a hard-boiled egg, kasawa crisps, mini beef shashliks and coriander leaves. In a few places the specialists of the Zanzibar pizza, which is a delicious but incredibly distant version of the Italian original,  make small balls from dough and turn them in fingers skilfully until they change into thin, small flatbread. Then they put meat or vegetable filling on it, add an egg, spice it up with mayonaise, fold like an envelope and put on a hot pan which is shiny with melted ghee butter. After a while, the intriguing in taste omelette or pancake-like thing proudly named pizza is ready.

For supper and a date

In the evening Forodhani becomes a place of family meetings, clandestine get-togethers, first dates. Under the cover of night, between stands walk the lovers, men flock around the tables, on the benches and lawns sit dressed-up women, children play and cats await yummy morsels. In the still warm air the subtle scent of paczula, nutmeg and ylangi-ylangi flowers that female bodies release, mixes with the smell of smoke, hot oil and ocean breeze.

The visit at this market is one of the most interesting culinary experiences in Zanzibar. It is worth succumbing to the adventure, tasting baked fish and local specialities as well as quenching the thirst with sugar cane juice with ginger and lemon squeezed from long stalks on the special press.

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