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  • Just released!

    Our new travel book is now available for download from our homepage. Additionally, guests will find a copy waiting for them in their rooms upon arrival. Explore the wonders of Zanzibar at your fingertips! Our travel guide provides practical tips and recommendations for excursions and activities, shopping or parties ensuring you make the most of your stay. Immerse yourself in authentic Zanzibar and let its beauty captivate you. You can download the travel book from here:

  • Get to know the hardworking helpers behind the scenes - part 1

    In addition to our well-trained service personnel, whom we have already introduced here, many helpers behind the scenes, such as housekeepers, gardeners, maintenance staff, and security guards, contribute significantly to ensuring that our guests feel completely comfortable during their stay with us. I would like to introduce them here. Let's start with the Housekeeper 1. Tatu Juma Ramadhani Tatu was our very first employee. She started working with us even before the hotel's opening in 2012. She helped complete the furnishing of the rooms, learned how to operate a laundry press, and stood by us through all the initial challenges. Tatu is 37 years old, married and has three children (12, 6 and 3 years old). She has a babysitter who looks after the children. Tatu hails from the Mwanza Region in Tanzania and resides with her family in Mwera, a village located east of Stone Town along the road to the west coast of the island. At home, she is a skilled cook and hairdresser. She can also weave beautiful rugs from fabric strips. 2. Shakira Khatib Rajab Shakira is 33 years old, married, and she has two children, aged 9 and 3 years old. A babysitter takes care of them during her working hours. Originally from Tanga-Lushoto on the mainland, she lives now in Taveta, which is a part of Zanzibar Town. In her free time, she is a talented businesswoman. Shakira has been with Matlai since 2015. 3. Maryam Mfaume Omar Maryam is 30 years old, married, and has one child, a 9 months old girl. Her sister in law looks after the baby while she works. At home Maryam enjoys cooking and tailoring clothes. She grew up in Kilwa-Lindi on mainland Tanzania but now lives in Michamvi. She is the head of the department. Maryam works with us since 2018. 4. Yasinta Ferdinandy Sanga Yasinta is 21 years old and single. She originally comes from Mbeya in the south-west region of Tanzania and lives now in Michamvi. She is a very good singer and dancer. Yasinta came to Matlai in 2022. 5. Jenipha Revocatus Mwalika Jenipha is 27 years old and married. She has two kids, 7 and 3 years old, whom a babysitter looks after while she works. She spent her childhood in Mwanza, located on the shores of Lake Victoria in Tanzania and she lives now in Michamvi. She has been completing the team since 2022. All housekeepers enjoy decorating the rooms with flowers and creatively arranging the beds for the guests. Due to their cheerful demeanor and attention to detail, they are highly appreciated by both our guests and us as employers. Let's continue with the Maintenance Department 1. Is-Haak Mansab Moh'd Isaka is 40 years old, married and has two boys, 2 years and 2 ½ months old. His wife, originally from Pemba, diligently tends to the children. Isaka is born in Zanzibar and lives with his family next to Zanzibar Town. Isaka joined us in 2012, shortly after our establishment opened. Initially serving as a barman, he transitioned to the security department before finding his niche in the maintenance division, where he currently serves as the department head. His profound interest in technical matters has enabled him to excel in plumbing, electricity, and construction, showcasing his extensive expertise in these areas. 2. Yussuph Nassibu Haji Yussuph is 33 years old and married. He grew up in Michamwi, where he still resides in his own house. Yussuph has two daughters, aged 6 and 3, who live with their grandmother in Stone Town. He started working as a gardener with us, later transitioning to the Security Department, but his interests lie more in the technical field. Therefore, he now works in the Maintenance Department. Yussuph has been working with us since 2012. Over the years, both Maintenance team members have evolved into proficient all-rounders. Perhaps you may not encounter them as frequently, but they are among the most crucial members of our team. They remain readily available outside of their regular work hours, always ready to address both minor and major technical issues at any time.

  • Happy Valentine's Day

    Welcome to our enchanting hotel garden, where love knows no bounds! Amidst the lush greenery hangs a metal heart, a symbol of enduring romance and timeless love. Each year, our special guests return to adorn this heart with their unique locks. As we celebrate Valentine's Day, we invite all our guests to partake in this tradition of love. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a returning guest, feel free to attach your own lock to our heart and join the tapestry of affection that adorns our garden. May this Valentine's Day be filled with joy, laughter, and boundless love. And may our metal heart continue to beat in harmony with the collective pulse of all those who have shared their love on this ground. Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at the hotel!

  • Indulge in our Exceptional Hospitality

    At Matlai, we believe in going above and beyond to make our guests stay truly extraordinary. We understand that every detail matters when it comes to creating lasting memories, and that's why we've curated a selection of special amenities and experiences to pamper our guests. Welcome Cocktail Upon your arrival, you will be greeted with a delightful welcome cocktail designed to showcase the character of Matlai. This special gesture sets the stage for a wonderful stay, welcoming you with a touch of our hospitality and attention to detail. Indeed, the fresh coconut water is a treat even without alcohol. Yoga Mats and Dumbbells Our tip for a wonderful new morning: Embrace the sunrise. Unroll the yoga mat provided in each room on your balcony or terrace and invigorate your body with the Yoga Sun Salutation, Surya Namaskar. For yoga beginners: In this sequence, we bow to the star (our sun), which gifts us with light and warmth. We also express gratitude for the life energy flowing through us, keeping us alive. The Yoga Sun Salutation involves a series of asanas, perfectly synchronized and excellent as a strengthening warm-up for the entire body. Due to its activating and energizing effects, it's particularly enjoyed in the early morning, ensuring you start your day full of vitality. For additional exercise, our dumbbells are available. Following your workout, allow us to serve breakfast on your terrace as you relish a new day on our beautiful island. Breakfast Sayings Mornings with us are accompanied by more than just delicious meals. Our breakfast service is accompanied by inspiring and uplifting quotes that create an atmosphere of positivity as you start your day. All quotes originate from various African countries and accompany you with their wisdom throughout the day. Preferred Seating & Flexible Meal Times Enjoy the luxury of choosing your preferred seating for all meals. Begin your day with breakfast served on your balcony or one of our terraces, offering a breathtaking ocean view. Whether you have a favorite spot in our restaurant or desire a more private setting, we ensure you get the best seat. Additionally, we understand the importance of flexibility, offering meal times tailored to your schedule for a truly personalized dining experience. Romantic Dinner Places Discover intimate dining experiences in our specially designated romantic spots. A candlelit dinner on your terrace or balcony, at one of the secluded spots in the garden, or by the beach - the choice is yours. Reserve your preferred spot and relish an evening filled with love and delectable cuisine. Of course, you can also dine in our atmospheric restaurant. Bedtime Stories As an imaginative conclusion to your day, immerse yourself in the charm of African bedtime stories. Treat yourself to a unique evening ritual during bedtime. Our room service will place a new tale from the rich tapestry of African stories on your bed every evening. Each story is original and offers a fascinating glimpse into African culture. These stories are as diverse as the continent itself - some whimsical, others infused with humor, but all undeniably intriguing. As you relax and delve into these stories, you'll find yourself transported to a world where tradition, folklore, and imagination seamlessly intertwine. Open-Air Cinema Immerse yourself in the magic of a private cinema under the stars. Our open-air cinema nights provide a unique and cozy setting with blankets and cushions, creating the perfect ambiance for a cinematic experience. Choose your favorite movie from our DVD collection and indulge in a romantic, thrilling, or action-packed evening. Popcorn is, of course, on the house. SUP or Kayak Delight in the serenity of our surroundings by exploring the waters with stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) or kayaking. Whether you're an experienced paddler or a first-timer, these water activities provide a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure against the backdrop of our picturesque locale. Our staff will provide you with safety instructions and assist in launching the paddle board or kayak into the water. Table Games Relax and have fun with our collection of board games. From classic board games to strategic card games, we offer a variety of options to entertain guests of all ages. Explore the extensive game collection in the lounges of your accommodation and in the game cabinet at our bar. Are you interested in the highly popular Bao game in Zanzibar? Our butlers would be delighted to explain the rules. Table Soccer & Dart For those seeking a bit of friendly competition, indulge in lively matches of table soccer or try your hand at darts. These games offer a perfect blend of skill and amusement, creating an engaging environment for guests looking to add a touch of excitement to their stay. Beach & Pool Service Enjoy the sun or take a refreshing dip in your inviting pool with the assurance of our attentive beach and pool service. Our butlers are ready to serve you refreshing drinks, snacks, or full meals wherever you may be, providing everything you need for a day of relaxation. Bicycles Explore the beauty of our surroundings on two wheels with our complimentary bicycle borrowing service! Whether you're seeking a leisurely ride along the beach or an adventurous exploration of the area, our bicycles are the perfect companion for your outdoor excursions. Enjoy the freedom to pedal at your own pace, immerse yourself in nature, and discover hidden gems waiting to be uncovered. Simply inquire with one of the butlers to reserve your bicycle and embark on a journey of discovery. Guests enjoying an extended stay of 7 days or more will be pleasantly surprised with some additional extras. Voucher for Foot or Head Massage in our Bustani Spa Elevate your sense of well-being with a voucher for a soothing foot or head massage at our esteemed Bustani Spa. Let our skilled therapists transport you to a world of tranquility, where stress melts away, and relaxation takes center stage. Matlai Aluminium Drinking Bottles To protect the environment, we refrain from using disposable bottles. Instead, we provide our guests with refillable glass bottles filled from reusable water gallons. For your convenience during excursions, we offer aluminum bottles - stylish and eco-friendly - as a complimentary gift from us, ensuring you have access to fresh and chilled drinking water wherever you go. Gift upon Departure As a token of our gratitude for choosing Matlai for a longer stay or as a returner, we present you with a special departure gift. This memento is a small expression of our appreciation for your time with us and a reminder of the wonderful moments shared during your stay. At Matlai, these special extras are not just amenities – they are expressions of our commitment to providing an unparalleled guest experience. We invite you to savor the moments, create memories, and let us be the architects of your unforgettable stay. Welcome to a world where every detail is designed to make your journey with us truly exceptional.

  • Discovering Zanzibar: Unique Souvenirs to Bring Home

    Zanzibar is renowned for its magnificent beaches, rich history, and vibrant culture. As you explore the narrow, winding streets of Stone Town or relax on the beaches, you will undoubtedly come across some unique souvenirs. From intricately crafted artefacts to aromatic spices, Zanzibar offers a diverse selection of mementos for travellers who want to take a piece of the island's charm home with them. 1. Handcrafted Wooden Artefacts Local artisans in Zanzibar showcase their incredible talent through the creation of exquisite wooden carvings. Intricately designed masks, statues, and furniture reflect the island's cultural diversity and historical influences. Look for items made from ebony, mahogany, or coconut wood, each telling a unique story of Zanzibar's heritage. The best places to buy handcrafted wooden artefacts: The Zanzibar Curio Shop, Hurumzi Street, Stone Town in small shops in Stone Town from local carpenters on the beach 2. Kangas and Kitenges Colorful, vibrant, and culturally significant, Kangas and Kitenges are traditional fabrics from East Africa that make for lovely souvenirs. These brightly patterned fabrics feature traditional motifs and can be crafted into clothing, accessories, or used as wall hangings, serving as a lasting reminder of your vacation in Zanzibar. Kangas are distinguished by the Swahili proverbs adorning the lower section. Positioned precisely above the fabric's motif, these statements are now predominantly written in Latin script, moving away from the earlier Arabic script. The significance of Kangas lies in the messages they convey. Some women choose their Kangas based solely on the statement, prioritizing it over color and pattern. Kangas serve as a form of communication, allowing women to subtly address situations like gossip or conflicts. Moreover, these phrases can express joyous occasions, such as a wife welcoming her husband home with a Kanga that conveys her excitement and longing for his return. Examples of kanga sayings: „Naogopa simba na meno yake siogopi mtu kwa maneno yake“ - I fear the teeth of a lion, but not the words of a man. "Nitazidi kumpenda mpate kusema sana" - Keep on talking. The more you gossip, the more I will love him. "Wawili wakipendena adui hana nafasi" - In love, two people have no room for enemies. Younger, more modern women prefer different fabrics for their clothes, but ones that are equally vibrant. The best places to buy fabrics: in many small shops in Stone Town Suma Store, Darajani street opposite the Darajani market 3. Zanzibari Spice Blends Zanzibar has long been known as the "Spice Islands" due to its thriving spice trade. Delight your senses with the island's renowned spice blends, featuring a mix of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg. Popular choices include Zanzibar Curry Powder or the exotic Zanzibar Seven Spice blend, each adding a touch of the island's aromatic allure to your culinary adventures back home. If you are interested in more information about the spices please read also our last blog. The best places to buy spices are: Darajani Market, Zanzibar town Memories of Zanzibar, Kenyatta Road, Stone Town Zanzibar Organic Spice Shop, Mkunazini Street, Stown Town 1001 Organic Spicery, Gizenga Street, Stone Town Spice Shop in Paje, behind the roundabout, direction to Jambiani 4. Mkokoteni (Handwoven Baskets) Mkokoteni, or handwoven baskets, are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Crafted from local materials such as palm leaves and banana fibers, these baskets come in various shapes and sizes. Whether you use them for shopping, storage, or as decorative pieces, Mkokoteni embody the skillful craftsmanship of Zanzibar's artisans. The best places to buy baskets: in small shops in Stone Town 5. Tinga Tinga Paintings Originating from Tanzania, Tinga Tinga paintings have become a beloved art form in Zanzibar. These brightly colored, whimsical artworks typically depict scenes from everyday life, wildlife, or local folklore. Bring home a piece of Zanzibar's artistic spirit by selecting a Tinga Tinga painting. The best places to buy paintings: Hellen Art Gallery, Kenyatta Road, Stone Town Hurumzi Henna Art Gallery, 242 Hurumzi Street, Stone Town some souvenir shops offer nice paintings check the local painters on the beach 6. Coffee and Tea Tanzanian coffee, known for its exceptional quality, is a delight for coffee enthusiasts. Grown in the fertile volcanic soils of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Meru region, Tanzanian Arabica coffee beans thrive in the high-altitude climate. The beans are characterized by a unique balance of bright acidity and a full-bodied, wine-like flavor profile. Renowned Tanzanian coffee varieties include Peaberry and AA, both celebrated for their distinct taste. The coffee culture in Tanzania is deeply ingrained, and enjoying a cup of freshly brewed Tanzanian coffee is an experience that every visitor should indulge in. Tanzania is renowned for its tea production, particularly black and green tea varieties. Cultivated at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and in the Usambara Mountains, these teas benefit from the rich volcanic soil and favorable climates, resulting in a diverse range of flavors. The lush landscapes of these regions contribute to the unique characteristics that make Tanzanian tea a distinctive and sought-after choice, both locally and internationally. The best places to buy coffee and tea: Zanzibar Coffee House, Mkunazini Street, Stone Town 1001 Organic Spicery, Gizenga Street, Stone Town Spice Shop, Paje, behind roundabout street to Jambiani 7. Seaweed Products Seaweed souvenirs from coastal destinations like Zanzibar offer a unique and eco-friendly way to capture the essence of the sea. Whether you're drawn to the natural beauty of seaweed or its potential health benefits, these souvenirs make for meaningful reminders of your seaside experience. From decorative items like framed seaweed art to practical products like handmade soap enriched with seaweed extracts, these souvenirs reflect the coastal charm and sustainability of the region. In Paje a group of women, called Mwani Zanzibar Mamas, with a legacy spanning generations, cultivate seaweed in harmony with the natural rhythms of the Indian Ocean. Working daily in the clear waters shaped by the moon and tides, they consider seaweed a precious gift from the ocean. The Mamas blend traditional wisdom and artisanal skills to craft a skincare line. Each handmade batch undergoes meticulous preparation, taking 15 weeks from seedling cultivation to the creation of each skincare product. In our bathrooms, you will find a piece of seaweed soap that you are welcome to take home as a souvenir. The best place to buy seaweed products: Mwani Zanzibar, Paje 8. Tanzanite Balancing between lush blue, vibrant violet, and rich purple, the exotic Tanzanite is exclusive to a single location on Earth, near the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Tiffany & Co bestowed the name upon this blue-violet variety of zoisite, in homage to Tanzania, where it was initially unearthed in 1967. As these crystals exhibit different colors based on the viewing angle, cutters have the ability to create gems with a spectrum of colors ranging from violetish blue to bluish violet, depending on how much weight they wish to preserve from the raw material. It's fascinating to note that the largest Tanzanite ever found is a single colossal crystal weighing an impressive 16,839 carats, well over 3 kilograms. When purchasing Tanzanite, prioritize rich, vibrant color and minimal inclusions for a visually appealing gemstone. Opt for a well-cut stone to maximize its brilliance, and inquire about any heat treatments, ensuring transparency. Choose a reputable jeweller providing certification from recognized gemmological labs. Taking these factors into consideration, you can choose a beautiful and valuable Tanzanite that aligns with your preferences and expectations. Best places to buy Tanzanite jewellery: Elias Jewellery, Kenyatta Road, Stone Town Memories of Zanzibar, Kenyatta Road, Stone Town on Kenyatta Road are many small shops Zanzibar's diverse cultural influences, vibrant history, and natural beauty are brilliantly reflected in the array of souvenirs available on the island. From aromatic spices to handcrafted artifacts, each item tells a unique story of this enchanting destination. As you explore Zanzibar, take the time to immerse yourself in the local markets and workshops, discovering the perfect memento to cherish the memories of your Zanzibari adventure for years to come.

  • Zanzibar: The Spice Island Paradise

    Zanzibar is often referred to as the Spice Island due to its rich abundance of spices. While a few spices were imported, such as vanilla from Mexico by the Portuguese, cloves from Indonesia by the Arabs, and nutmeg from India, Zanzibar itself is the origin of significant spices like cinnamon, cardamom, lemongrass, turmeric, and ginger. In 1698, the Arabs from Oman successfully ousted the Portuguese occupiers from Zanzibar, gradually extending their control over the entire East African coast. By 1840, the Sultan of Oman had moved his seat from Muscat to Zanzibar, strategically leveraging the island to further expand the slave trade. Sultan Said bin Sayyed required thousands of slaves, particularly for his 45 newly established date and clove plantations. The prosperity of the spice trade and the opulent wealth of the sultans on this small Indian Ocean island, which resonated in Europe, would have been inconceivable without the utilization of slave labor. The Sultanate of Zanzibar survived under British suzerainty until gaining independence in December 1963. The last Sultan, Jamshid, was allowed to continue his rule, with only 32 days remaining until the revolution. During the fasting month of Ramadan, in the night of January 12, 1964, the pent-up anger of the exploited African islanders erupted against the Arab-Indian elite. A bloody massacre ensued, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Arabs and Indians. The next day saw the proclamation of the "People's Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba," which shortly thereafter joined Tanganyika to form the semi-autonomous state of the United Republic of Tanzania. Arabs and Indians fled, including Sultan Jamshid. After the revolution, the Sultan's plantations and those of the Arab landlords were nationalized. Clove production was intensified, especially on the island of Pemba. Soon, a decision was made to redistribute a significant portion of the plantations in Zanzibar among small-scale farmers. Pemba became the primary cultivation site for cloves, leading to the extensive clearing of the majority of its original forests to make way for vast clove plantations. However, gone are the days when Zanzibar could thrive on the spice trade. The global market price for cloves has plummeted, and the once-largest clove producer now plays a minimal role in the world spice market. Most spice farms in Zanzibar are located approximately 20 km northeast of Stone Town. They no longer cultivate spices primarily for export but rather focus on local sales and catering to the popular spice tours, allowing guests to explore various spice plants and learn about their cultivation, harvesting, and processing methods. Certainly, I'd be happy to introduce you to some of the most popular spices: Clove Cloves are the nail-shaped (thus their name from the French “clou=nail”) flowering buds from the clove tree, an up to 8–12 m tall evergreen. Harvesting is done twice a year by pickers climbing the trees, gathering the small buds by hand in baskets made of coconut leaves. The cloves are then dried for three to four days on mats in the sun, the buds turn a dark brown colour and the spice is ready for use. Cloves are used in the cooking of Asia, Africa, and the Near and Middle East in meats, curries, and marinades, as well as fruit such as apples, pears or rhubarb and hot beverages (German “gluehwine”) . Cloves have also been used in medicine, especially topically against toothache, inflammations of the mouth and throat, the active ingredient Eugenol has been given to lower fever and blood sugar, against stomach upset, diarrhea, hernia, and bad breath, intestinal gas, nausea, and vomiting and premature ejaculation, the evidence of any of these effects being inconclusive. Clove oil can also be used to anesthetize fish. The spice is used in a type of cigarette called kretek in Indonesia, giving it a menthol like flavour. In the 19th century cloves have been -next to slaves- the single most important export product of the rich Omani empire of Zanzibar. A hurricane in 1872 largely destroyed the clove industry on the island, but on nearby Pemba the plantations remained largely intact, and the clove crop from there is still of great export value. Cinnamon Group of spices, derived from the inner bark of different types of trees. Cinnamon is native to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Malabar Coast of India, and Burma. Sri Lanka produces 80–90% of the world's supply of true Cinnamon. Cinnamon tamala and Cinnamon cassia  come from the north of India, China, Arabia, Madagascar and Ethiopia. Cinnamon is used for cooking in sweet and savoury foods, perfumes and medicine and has been known from ancient times like in Egypt as early as 2000 BC and been mentioned extensively in greek and roman literature. It was highly priced and one of the reasons for the Portuguese, Dutch and British to search for trading routes to Asia after the Mediterranean route via Alexandria was blocked by the Ottoman empire and the Mameluke sultans. After the rainy season the smaller shoots of the tree are stripped of their bark. These sheets of bark are then put overlapping to dry in the sun. As the bark dries it will curl up in the form of a cinnamon stick. The sticks are then cut to the right size. The small pieces and flakes that fall off during the process are ground into cinnamon powder. Cinnamon verum sticks can be recognized by the very fine thinness of the bark. The people of Zanzibar use the bark, but also the whole plant can be used for different purposes. The leaves can be used fresh or dried in cooking and tea, the stems can be burnt as incense and insect repellent. While Ceylon Cinnamon contains very little of the anticoagulant Coumarin, Cinnamon cassia has a considerable amount of it which can interfere with blood coagulation, liver and kidney function if ingested in great amounts (like during Christmas time) in susceptible individuals. Vanilla Is world’s second priciest spice. The plant from the orchid family with 25000 species and at least 250 different flavors originated from Mexico, where the Totonac people added it to chocolate, calling it the fruit of the gods. They were conquered by the Aztecs in 15th century, who taxed the Mayans in vanilla beans, using the beans as currency, followed by the Spanish, who introduced vanilla to Europe as additive to chocolate, considering it as the ultimate aphrodisiac until early 17th century, when an apothecary in the employ of Queen Elizabeth I developed a chocolate free vanilla dessert. The French then used it in ice-cream, and in 1780 the recipe brought to America by the future American president Th. Jefferson, who then lived in Paris as American Minister to France. The demand increased in the 2nd half of 19th century when vanilla was used in soft drinks including Coca Cola after 1886. The propagation was not successful outside Mexico, because the pollinating Melipona bee and humming birds only exist there. In 1841 a 12 year old slave boy in Reunion discovered a pollination technique using a stick and flip of the thumb, after which the plant spread worldwide through the tropics, nowadays being produced mainly in Madagascar and Reunion. The vanilla plant winds around trees up to 100 m and produces once a year 10 cm big green-yellowish flowers, which only open for 24 hrs and have to be pollinated (by hand) during this time or die. 9 months later 15-20 cm long pods emerge containing thousands of small grains. The pods have to be harvested by hand and in a very labor- intensive process with cooking, drying, curing in the sun over several months, matured into the dark brown shrunken pods, the whole development process lasting 1,5 years. Only 2000 tons are produced per year. The remaining 99% of the demand come from synthetic vanillin production by gene technology and from petrochemistry, wood processing and paper industry, from engenol (clove oil) and even from the secretions of anal glands of beavers. Vanilla is used in sweets, also in combination with meat, salads, in coffee, perfume, tea, home products, body lotion. The most popular vanilla species with distinct flavours are from Tahiti, Madagascar and Mexico. Tamarind Tamarind means “Indian date”. It is the only spice derived from Africa that is being used extensively in cuisines around the world, and that is not growing on a palm-like tree. It is cultivated worldwide in tropical and subtropical zones. It produces edible, pod-like fruit which are used for cooking. Other uses include traditional medicines and metal polishes. The wood can be used in carpentry. Mace & Nutmeg Mace and Nutmeg are two distinct spices derived from the same plant, Myristica fragrans. Nutmeg refers to the seed within the yellowish fruits of the plant, while mace is the lacy, reddish covering (arils) surrounding the seed. Once harvested, the mace arils are separated from the nutmeg seeds and spread out to dry, from a few days to a couple of weeks. The dried mace arils are carefully ground or grated, releasing the aromatic oils and intensifiing the spice’s flavor and fragrance. Both spices were highly priced in ancient times, have a fascinating history spanning centuries and are widely used in culinary traditions around the world. Originating exclusively from the tropical regions of Indonesia, particularly the Banda Islands, nowadays nutmeg and mace are cultivated in various countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Grenada. In the 15th century, the spice trade, including mace, became a driving force behind global exploration and trade routes. During the Middle Ages, mace was believed to possess various health benefits, including aiding digestion, relieving pain, and even acting as aphrodisiacs. Mace and it’s sister-spice nutmeg are versatile spices that add a distinct flavor and aroma to a wide range of dishes. Sharing similarities, but also with unique culinary applications setting them apart. Compared to nutmeg, mace has a more delicate, subtly sweet and fragrant scent with hints of citrus and pine. It is often used in lighter dishes such as fish, poultry, and delicate sauces, adding a gentle warmth and complexity without overpowering the other flavors. It can be used in spice blends (e.g. garam masala), marinades, and rubs to enhance the overall flavor profile. Maze offers some nutritional benefit (minerals, vitamins, fibre), which is small due to the small quantities of the spice used. Cardamom Cardamom is a spice belonging to the ginger family, native to the Middle East, North Africa, and Scandinavia, nowadays mainly produced in Guatemala (to where it has been introduced before World War I by a german coffee planter). The word is derived from the Mycenaean Greek  “ka-da-mi-ja”, and in the New Testament was mentioned as "amomon” = spice. It is world's third-most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla. Cardamom can be bought still in the pods (strongest flavor), as seeds or as ground cardamom with less flavor. It has a strong, unique spicy-sweet taste, which is slightly aromatic. In a recipe 10 seeds equal 1 ½ tsp. ground. The two main genera are “green cardamom” (white cardamom when bleached), and ”black cardamom” (Java cardamom, Bengal cardamom), both with a strong, unique taste and being used as flavoring and cooking spices in India, the Middle East and Scandinavia. In South Asia, China and in Ayurvedic medicine Cardamom is used to treat infections, digestive disorders, to break up kidney and gall stones, and as an antidote for both snake and scorpion venoms. Black Pepper Pepper is the most widely traded spice in the world. It has been used in ancient Egypt and is now being cultivated in India and the far east (Vietnam). One of the reasons for the exploring voyages of the Portuguese (including Christoph Columbus) has been to break the monopoly in spice trade of Venice and other Italian cities. Black pepper is the cooked and dried unripe fruit, green pepper the dried unripe fruit and white pepper the ripe fruit seeds. The spiciness of black pepper is due to the chemical piperine, not to be confused with the capsaicin that gives fleshy peppers their spiciness. The taste of green and black peppercorns is different from white pepper since latter lacks flavours concentrated in the shells. Discover the enchanting allure of Zanzibar's spices, where each aroma tells a tale of a vibrant and flavorful history.

  • Exploring Zanzibar's Culinary Traditions: A Journey into Typical Food Habits

    We invite you to embark on a culinary journey exploring the rich food traditions of Zanzibar. Our goal is to immerse you in the local culinary scene, providing insights into traditional meals and the cultural context in which they are enjoyed. Local Delights: Authentic Breakfasts Ugali: The day for many Zanzibaris begins with a staple known as Ugali. This traditional dish is crafted from cornmeal, simmered in boiling water until it transforms into a dense block of cornmeal paste. Ugali is often eaten with coconut sauce or fish soup. What makes this experience unique is the ritual of eating with the right hand, a practice that underscores the importance of hand hygiene as locals cleanse their hands before and after the meal. This tactile engagement is not just a means of consumption but a way to forge a connection with the food, enhancing the sensory experience of its flavors. Such a practice is deeply ingrained in the broader tapestry of African culture. Ugali is also a preferred lunch option among locals, often paired with fried fish or with beans in coconut sauce, known as Ugali na Maharagwe. Cassava: In Swahili cuisine, another common and delicious breakfast option is cassava with coconut sauce. Cassava is a starchy root vegetable widely consumed in East Africa. Typically, cassava is peeled, cooked, and then either fried or boiled until it reaches a tender consistency. The coconut sauce is prepared by mixing coconut milk with a blend of aromatic spices and herbs, such as garlic, ginger, and perhaps a hint of chili. On the coast of Zanzibar, cassava is commonly enjoyed with freshly caught fish. Cassava is also commonly cooked for lunch or dinner. The preferred breakfast beverage is a cup of black tea, enriched with milk, sugar, and a blend of spices. Chapati, Maharagwe, Mandazi, and Vitumbua - Breakfast the Swahili Way Let's delve into the culinary details of the mentioned Swahili breakfast dishes that we offer at our hotel. Chapati: Description: Chapati is a traditional, unleavened flatbread made from a simple mixture of flour, water, and salt. It is typically cooked on a hot griddle or skillet. Culinary Note: Known for its versatility, chapati can be enjoyed on its own or paired with various accompaniments. Maharagwe (Baked Beans in Coconut Milk): Maharagwe is a hearty dish featuring baked beans simmered in coconut milk. This Swahili breakfast option is reminiscent of an English breakfast. Mandazi: Description: Mandazi is a form of fried bread prepared with a mixture of water, sugar, flour, yeast, and milk or coconut milk. The dough is deep-fried to achieve a golden-brown, crispy texture. Culinary Note: Mandazis are a popular choice for breakfast or snacks. Vitumbua (Coconut Rice Pancakes): Description: Vitumbua are coconut-infused rice pancakes often enjoyed both as a street snack and a breakfast dish. These bite-sized treats are cooked in a special mold, giving them their characteristic round shape. Culinary Note: The addition of coconut gives the rice pancakes a sweet and aromatic flavor. This symphony of flavors in Swahili breakfast reflects the diverse and vibrant culinary heritage of the region, offering a delightful array of both savory and sweet options to please the palate. Main Courses Inspired by Swahili Tradition Many locals love to eat at street stalls or local restaurants, which can be found all along the main roads and in the villages. If you'd like to try any of the following dishes, keep in mind the well-known rule for eating in the tropics: Peel it, cook it, or forget it. Urojo Embark on a journey with traditional Swahili cuisine and discover the famous Urojo. Celebrated as Zanzibar's signature dish, Urojo is a hearty soup made with potatoes, rich in vibrant flavors, and complemented with a variety of toppings. Esteemed by local families, Urojo holds a special place alongside staples like rice and beans due to its simple preparation and affordability. Chips Mayai Discover the ubiquitous delight of Tanzania: Chips Mayai, a traditional street food found throughout the country. Originally stemming from the basic elements of potatoes and eggs, this dish transforms into a delicious omelet, often garnished with salad and occasionally with squid or calamari. Mishkaki This grilled meat delicacy is offered at many roadside stalls. Cubes of steak are marinated, skewered, and grilled until tender. The skewers are traditionally grilled over charcoal, imparting a smoky flavor to the dish. Pilau This rice dish, reflecting centuries-old connections to Arabic culture, is characterized by fragrant spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. The addition of meat, often chicken or beef, enhances the flavor diversity of the dish. Biryani As a testament to the fusion of influences on Zanzibar, Biryani has incorporated Indian culinary traditions. Fragrant basmati rice, prepared with an array of spices, tender meat, or aromatic vegetables, is served with a topping of caramelized onions and boiled eggs. Embark on a culinary journey through the diverse cuisine of Zanzibar. Whether you try the local street food or order it in our kitchen, exploring Zanzibar's traditional dishes is definitely worthwhile.

  • Happy New Year 2024

    Dear guests, As the year comes to a close, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude for choosing Boutique Hotel Matlai as your home away from home. May the New Year bring you joy, adventure, and unforgettable moments. Thank you for being a part of our extended family. Wishing you a year filled with peace, luxury, and wonderful experiences. Happy New Year! Warmest regards, The Matlai Team We had a wonderful New Year's Eve party on the beach with our guests after an excellent barbecue in our Restaurant Zatiny by Matlai. Thanks to our talented butler Hashim for the impressive acrobatic performance. Thanks to our amazing staff for once again creating a perfect New Year's Eve evening. The dance around the fire is always a great joy. Visit us and celebrate the next New Year's Eve with us!

  • Christmas in Paradise: Celebrations in Zanzibar

    The question of whether Christmas is celebrated in Zanzibar might seem valid at first, considering that approximately 97% of the population adheres to the Muslim faith. Nevertheless, amidst the numerous mosques, there are two notable Christian churches: the Roman Catholic St. Joseph's Cathedral and the Anglican Christ Church. St. Joseph's Cathedral - one of the city's most significant historical structures This impressive cathedral was constructed between 1893 and 1897 by French missionaries and local converts who had initially established a mission in the area in 1860. The plans were drawn by the French architect Léon Vaudoyer, who also designed the cathedral in Marseille, France. Both, the tiles and stained-glass windows were imported from France, and the murals on the interior walls, painted just after the completion of the cathedral, also display a clear French influence. Unfortunately, some of the murals have recently undergone poorly executed restoration. The cathedral is regularly used by the town's Catholic community, comprising Zanzibaris, mainland Tanzanians, and Europeans. Several masses take place every Sunday, with one or two during weekdays as well. Outside of mass times, the main cathedral doors may be locked, and access is through the back door reached via the courtyard of the adjacent convent. The church is centrally located in Stone Town, in the Baghani area of town along Kenyatta Road, featuring prominent twin spires. Despite its spires being a major landmark from a distance, finding the cathedral in the narrow streets can be surprisingly challenging. To find the church, the easiest route is through Kenyatta Road to Gizenga Street, then taking the first right turn through the maze of narrow streets in Stone Town. Christ Church: A Landmark of Anglican Architecture in Stone Town Christ Church is an Anglican cathedral located in Stone Town, belonging to the Anglican Church of Tanzania. It stands as one of the most prominent examples of early Christian architecture in East Africa. The church was constructed over seven years, with the foundation stone laid on Christmas Day in 1873 and its opening ceremony held on Christmas Day in 1879. The vision for the church came from Edward Steere, the third Anglican Bishop of Zanzibar, who actively participated in its design. Like most buildings in Stone Town, it is primarily constructed of coral stone. The cathedral features a unique concrete roof in the form of an unusual barrel vault, blending vertical Gothic and Islamic details in its overall structure. It was consecrated in 1903 and named after the Canterbury Cathedral. Situated on Mkunazini Road in the heart of the Old Town, Christ Church occupies a significant area that was once the largest slave market in Zanzibar. The cathedral's construction was intended to celebrate the end of slavery. The altar is said to be located precisely where the main "whipping post" of the market once stood. In the square, there is a well-known monument to the slaves (depicting human figures in chains emerging from a pit) and a museum on slavery. Edward Steere passed away from a heart attack when the cathedral was nearly completed and was buried behind the altar. Inside the church, there is a cross made from the wood of the tree that grows at the spot where David Livingstone's heart was buried in Chitambo. Christmas Celebrations The majority of the (Muslim) population does not celebrate Christmas, but some shops are adorned with artificial pine branches and twinkling colorful lights nonetheless. The approximately 2% Christian population observes Christmas in a manner similar to Europe or America, though the celebrations are more lively and exuberant than contemplative. During Advent, believers attend daily church services to prepare for the Christmas festivities. Unlike in Europe, Christmas is not a time for children's gifts, but families traditionally purchase new clothes for the occasion, which are worn during the church service. In preparation for various events in schools and communities, both children and adults rehearse singing and dancing well in advance. The first-ever service at St. Joseph's Cathedral on Christmas was held in 1898, featuring the Sultan's brass band. Nowadays, Christmas mass is celebrated every day in the cathedral. The Christmas service is also celebrated at Christ Church. Following the service, people gather for festive feasts either at home or in one of the city's restaurants. Most hotels, including Matlai, offer a special Christmas menu. However, many guests come to Zanzibar to escape the hustle and bustle of the holiday season back home and the cold weather. They prefer to enjoy their days on the beach and in the sea, basking in the summer temperatures and abundant sunshine. New Year's Eve This also applies to the New Year's Eve celebration. A beachside barbecue for dinner, a bonfire on the beach accompanied by local drum music and dances, all against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean – this is truly a special experience. In this setting, no one misses the fireworks, as they are only organized by a few large hotels in Zanzibar under military supervision due to the potential risk posed by the typical, easily flammable makuti roofs. May this Christmas fill your hearts with joy, your homes with laughter, and your lives with warmth. Wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with prosperity, good health, and endless possibilities. As we reflect on the past year, we look forward to the new opportunities and challenges that the coming year will bring. May it be a time of piece, happiness, and satisfaction. Thank you for being a part of our journey. We are excited about what the future holds and are grateful to have you with us. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  • Zanzibar's Bounty: Exploring the Rich Tapestry of Tropical Fruits

    In the heart of Zanzibar, a paradise known for its rich cultural tapestry, we delve into the vibrant world of typical fruits that flourish in this exotic East African island. Join us on a journey to discover the unique flavors and significance of Zanzibar's indigenous fruits. Shoki Shoki (Rambutan) The commonly used name for the Shoki Shoki fruit outside of Zanzibar is "Rambutan," derived from the Malay word "rambut," meaning "hair," referring to the densely spaced soft spines of the fruit. Removing the peel reveals the white juicy flesh, which encloses a hard seed. The Swahili name is Njugu Mawe. This tropical delicacy is known for its exceptional sweetness and is particularly favored by chefs for desserts and ice creations. In addition to its delicious taste, Shoki Shoki offers a wealth of health benefits, especially due to its high vitamin C content. Often confused with lychee, both Shoki Shoki and lychee belong to the Sapindaceae family. Originally from Malaysia and Indonesia, these fruits found their way to Zanzibar in the 15th century. In Chinese culture, Rambutan holds significance as a symbol of love and romance. Shoki Shoki fruits are harvested twice a year in Zanzibar, from June to August and December to January. While these fruits are often enjoyed fresh, they also lend themselves well to jams, jellies, smoothies, and a variety of delicious desserts. Mango The mango (embe in swahili), derived from the Indian term "māṅṅa," stands as a luscious stone fruit belonging to the Anacardiaceae flowering plant family. Upon its introduction to the American colonies in the 17th century, mangos were compelled to undergo pickling due to the absence of refrigeration, leading to the transformation of the word "mango" into a verb signifying the act of pickling. Native to South and Southeast Asia, particularly in India, where it is known as the "common mango" or "Indian mango", this delectable fruit varies in size and color when ripe, emitting a distinctive resinous, sweet aroma. Mangos generally exhibit a sweet taste, though the flesh's texture and flavor nuances differ among various species. Mangos find versatile application in cuisine, whether enjoyed on their own, incorporated into chutneys (using the sour, unripe varieties), featured in fruit salads, pressed into juices, or blended into ice cream and sorbets. Beyond their delightful taste, mango fruit is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds. However, it's essential to note that the skin of unripe, pickled, or cooked mango can induce contact dermatitis on the skin, lips, gingiva, or tongue in susceptible individuals. Despite this, mangos hold cultural significance in various societies, with the fruits and leaves serving ritually as floral decorations during private and public celebrations as well as religious ceremonies. As you journey along the road traversing the island from west to east, a captivating avenue of majestic old mango trees unfolds before you. The origins of this enchanting pathway are intertwined with intriguing tales, each weaving a unique narrative. One such tale recounts the legend of a Sultan's daughter, known for her nightly romances and the grim fate that befell her lovers at dawn. According to this story, the severed heads of the unfortunate paramours were interred along the roadside, giving rise to the flourishing mango trees that now grace the avenue. In an alternative version, the genesis of the avenue is attributed to a commemoration of the slaves who once trod this very road across the island. Their sacrifice is said to have nurtured the growth of the magnificent mango trees that line the route. The choice between these tales rests with you, the storyteller of your own journey. Papaya In Zanzibar, papaya holds a prominent place in the local culinary landscape, adding a tropical and flavorful touch to various dishes. The island's tropical climate provides an ideal environment for the cultivation of papaya, and as a result, it features prominently in both sweet and savory Zanzibari cuisine. The swahili name is "papai". Zanzibari cuisine is known for its rich and diverse flavors, influenced by Indian, Arabian, and Persian culinary traditions. Papaya is often incorporated into fresh fruit salads, juices, and smoothies, providing a refreshing and sweet element. The ripe fruit is sometimes enjoyed on its own or paired with other tropical fruits for a delightful dessert. In addition to being a sweet treat, unripe papaya is used in Zanzibari dishes as a vegetable. It can be included in chutneys, salsas, and other savory preparations. The black seeds of the papaya, containing the enzyme papain, may also find their way into certain spice blends or be used in traditional remedies. Beyond the culinary realm, papaya trees with their distinctive large leaves contribute to the lush and vibrant landscape of Zanzibar. The presence of papaya in Zanzibar reflects not only the island's agricultural abundance but also its cultural and culinary fusion, creating a unique and delightful culinary experience for residents and visitors alike. Stafeli Stafeli, also known as Soursop (Annona muricata), is a fruit that can reach up to 40 cm in length and weigh up to 4 kg. Originally from the Caribbean and South America, it is now cultivated in most tropical countries. Due to its susceptibility to pressure, transportation is challenging, making it less available outside its cultivation areas. The flesh has a sour taste and is commonly used in juices, purees, and sweets. The seeds of the fruit contain a neurotoxin called annonacin. There is controversy surrounding the potential connection between the consumption of plants containing annonacin and a neurological degenerative disease found exclusively on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. It's believed that the nervous poison in the seeds might be a contributing factor to this disease. However, research on this topic is ongoing, and the link remains a subject of debate within the scientific community. Despite the controversy, Soursop remains a popular fruit in many tropical regions, valued for its unique flavor and culinary versatility, though care should be taken regarding the consumption of the seeds and their potential effects. Coconut The term "coconut" has its roots in 16th-century Portuguese and Spanish, where "coco" referred to "head" or "skull," inspired by the three indentations or "eyes" on the coconut shell resembling facial features. Widely distributed throughout tropical and subtropical regions, the coconut constitutes a staple in the daily diets of numerous communities. Distinguished from other fruits by its high water content, the coconut can be harvested in its immature stage for refreshing drinking purposes. Even when mature, it retains some water and features the renowned "milk," a versatile ingredient in culinary endeavors. The dehydrated coconut "flesh," known as copra, serves as a valuable source for producing oil, extensively utilized in the manufacturing of soaps and cosmetics. Beyond its culinary applications, various components of the coconut find purpose in different industries. The hard shell, for instance, is employed as charcoal, while husks and leaves contribute to the creation of a diverse range of furnishing and decorating products. Traditional houses in Zanzibar often boast roofs constructed from coconut leaves, referred to as "makuti." It is always fascinating to see how the gardeners of our hotel climb the palm trees without any safety measures to harvest the coconuts. In Swahili, the coconut has different names: the young, still unripe fruit with soft flesh, whose water is often consumed, is called "Dafu," while the mature fruit with harder flesh, used for cooking, is called "Nazi" (pronounced with a soft "s"). Moreover, the coconut holds cultural and religious significance in societies that incorporate it into their practices. The life cycle of coconut palms sees them bearing their first fruit between six to ten years, reaching peak production—yielding up to 75 fruits annually—after 15-20 years. This enduring and versatile palm has become an integral part of both daily life and cultural heritage in regions where it thrives. Jackfruit The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) belongs to the mulberry family and originates from Southeast Asia. It grows on trees and is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, weighing up to 15 kg per fruit. The name is derived from the Malayalam word "chakka," which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word "chakra," meaning "round." The fruits grow near the trunk of the jackfruit tree, reaching lengths of up to one meter and diameters ranging from 15 cm to 50 cm. Jackfruit is rich in fiber and minerals, low in calories, but supplies the body with about 13 mg of vitamin C and many other important vitamins and minerals. Locally known as "Fenesi," jackfruit is one of the most popular fruits among the indigenous population of Zanzibar. The fruit is characterized by a delicious combination of sweetness and acidity, accompanied by a unique texture. During the ripening process, jackfruit emits a beautiful fragrance, signaling that it is ready to be enjoyed. The taste is somewhat reminiscent of pineapple. Apart from being consumed as a snack when ripe, jackfruit plays a versatile role in Zanzibari cuisine. It is featured in a variety of traditional dishes, with curries being a particularly popular choice. The subtle sweetness and characteristic texture of jackfruit complement the savory profiles of curries, and it is also appreciated as a meat substitute. Durian Revered as the "king of fruits" in Southeast Asia, Durian is a unique and iconic spiky fruit that holds a special place in Zanzibar's seasonal offerings. Recognizable for its distinctive features, including a pungent odor and a creamy, custard-like flesh, Durian is an exotic delicacy that beckons adventurous taste buds. Travelers visiting Zanzibar and fortunate enough to be there during the Durian season are encouraged to embark on this unique culinary adventure. The fruit's distinct aroma and rich flavor create an experience that is both memorable and emblematic of the region's diverse fruit landscape. Beyond its sensory allure, Durian is a nutritional powerhouse. Packed with dietary fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals such as potassium and vitamin C, it contributes to a well-rounded and healthful diet. The fruit's richness in antioxidants and sulfur compounds not only adds to its nutritional value but also defines its unique taste and aroma. Starfruit The starfruit (in swahili "matunda ya nyota"), scientifically known as Averrhoa carambola, grows on an evergreen, slow-growing tree with a short trunk, typically reaching heights of 5–10 m. It is originally from Java, Sulawesi, and the Moluccas, but is now found in many tropical countries. It is rich in Vitamin A and C, as well as calcium and iron. The exotic fruit gets its name from the star-shaped pattern that is revealed when it is cut open, exposing its juicy, translucent flesh beneath the yellow-green skin. In Chinese medicine, the crushed fruit is considered a good remedy for wounds, and the juice is believed to have fever-reducing and thirst-quenching properties. Its taste is a delightful fusion of sweetness and acidity. The star fruit is versatile in culinary applications; whether used as an ingredient in juices and smoothies, in salads, or simply as a decoration, it adds an exotic touch to dishes. Tangerine The term "Tangerine" (Citrus tangerina) refers to both a citrus plant and the orange-colored fruit it produces. The word "tangerine" is used synonymously for both this fruit and the mandarin (Citrus reticulata). While these fruits are closely related, they are not identical, although the scientific distinction is not yet conclusively settled. The name "tangerine" can be traced back to their origin in the Moroccan city of Tangier. These petite, sweet fruits are well-known for their easy peelability, making them a preferred choice for a quick on-the-go snack. During the peak season in Zanzibar, they abundantly flourish in villages such as Bambi, Uzini, Machui, and beyond, adding a touch of freshness to every corner. Beyond their delightful taste, tangerines offer nutritional benefits. They are rich in fiber, as well as a variety of essential vitamins, such as Vitamin C, and minerals. Additionally, their low calorie and low-fat profile makes them an ideal complement to daily nutrition. Passion Fruit The passionflower family (Passifloraceae) is a plant family that includes various species. The edible variety is called Passiflora edulis, of which there are purple and yellow types, referred to as passion fruit or maracuja. The passionflower is originally from South America but is now cultivated worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions. The swahili  name is "matunda ya mateso". Passiflora edulis is an evergreen, woody climbing plant with vines that can grow up to 10 meters long. In Zanzibar, it often climbs on many house walls or fences. The fruit is a berry with an inedible rind; inside, there are numerous seeds surrounded by a liquid-jelly-like yellow-orange-colored pulp. In Zanzibar, the cold-sensitive yellow variety is common, and it is larger and more acidic than the purple one, which also grows at higher altitudes. Passion fruits are often used to make sweet and sour juices, incorporated into desserts and cakes, and processed into delicious jams in our hotel kitchen. Banana Zanzibar is home to a variety of bananas, both small and long, each with its unique flavor and culinary uses. The small banana, referred to as "ndizi" in Swahili, is a delightful snack. With its petite size and sweet taste, these bananas are perfect for a quick energy boost on a warm day in Zanzibar. They are commonly found in markets, street stalls, and even in the backyard gardens of many Zanzibari households. On the other hand, the long banana, known as "Matoke," holds a special place in Zanzibar's culinary tradition. These larger bananas are often used in savory dishes, adding a unique and slightly starchy flavor to the island's diverse cuisine. Matoke are frequently incorporated into stews, curries, and other local dishes, showcasing the versatility of this elongated fruit. Both the small and long bananas in Zanzibar benefit from the island's tropical climate, where the combination of ample sunshine and regular rainfall creates ideal conditions for their cultivation. The volcanic soils of the archipelago contribute to the bananas' rich taste and nutritional profile, making them not only a culinary delight but also a valuable source of vitamins and energy for the local population. As you stroll through the vibrant markets of Stone Town or traverse the rural landscapes dotted with banana plantations, the scent of ripening bananas fills the air, creating an olfactory symphony that is distinctly Zanzibari. Whether you savor the sweetness of the small banana on its own or indulge in a savory Matoke-infused dish, the bananas of Zanzibar are a testament to the island's bounty and the harmonious coexistence of nature and culture in this tropical haven. Pineapple The pineapple belongs to the Bromeliaceae family and is originally from South America. It was presented to Christopher Columbus as a welcome gift during his second voyage in 1493 on Guadeloupe, making its way to Europe. Since the 16th century, it has been cultivated worldwide in tropical regions. The name "pineapple" is derived from the Guaraní language, spoken in some areas of South America, where it was called naná, meaning "fruit." In Swahili, it is known as "Nanasi." Pineapple is rich in vitamins (especially vitamin C), minerals, and enzymes. Zanzibar, with its tropical climate and fertile soil, is a paradise for growing sweet and juicy pineapples. The island's pineapple plantations yield an abundance of this tropical fruit, known for its refreshing taste and vibrant aroma. As you explore Zanzibar, you'll come across freshly harvested pineapples at roadside stands and markets, often peeled and sliced into rings for immediate consumption. Pineapple is frequently used as juice, in tropical fruit salads, or in curries. Watermelon The wild form of watermelon originally comes from South Africa, and cultivated varieties are now grown worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions. They are drought-resistant and prefer hot and sunny locations. Watermelon vines grow along the ground, with tendrils reaching up to 10 meters long. Since the flesh of wild varieties is bitter and not suitable for consumption, it is likely that only the seeds were used in ancient times. The first cultivated forms are known from around 2000 BCE in Egypt and West Asia, from where it quickly spread. In the arid regions of Africa, watermelon has been a crucial source of water for people for centuries. The rind of the watermelon can be up to 4 cm thick and is green on the outside, sometimes striped or marbled. The flesh is typically red but can also be yellow or orange. In some countries, the seeds are ground and used to make bread, eaten roasted, or fermented into alcoholic beverages. In medieval times, they were used as a laxative. New plants can easily be grown from watermelon seeds. Most commonly, the fruits are eaten raw, while in some African countries, they are occasionally cooked. The sweet, juicy flesh is a refreshing thirst quencher and also works well in fruit salads and other dishes. The Swahili name of watermelon is "tikiti maji". In our kitchen, we incorporate tropical fruits into our daily culinary creations, crafting a diverse array of meals and beverages. From refreshing juices and delectable desserts to flavorful jams, vibrant salads, savory soups, and even main dishes, these tropical treasures add a burst of exotic flavors to every aspect of our culinary experience.

  • 🌿 Discover Bliss at Bustani Tropical Spa!

    🌸 Bath Treatments - Experience Nature's Healing Power 🌸 🌿 Unwind in the embrace of the tropics as you immerse yourself in our bath treatments. Indulge your senses with the aromatic symphony of fresh herbs and botanicals, carefully curated to harmonize your mind, body, and soul. 🌿 Our dedicated spa therapists have crafted a unique selection of herbal blends, each designed to address your specific needs. Whether it's stress relief, detoxification, skin rejuvenation, or simply seeking an escape from the daily hustle, our herb baths will transport you to a state of bliss. ✨ Why Choose Bustani Tropical Spa? ✨ 🌴 Enveloped in Nature: Our spa is situated in a tropical garden paradise, allowing you to reconnect with the soothing power of nature while enjoying your treatment. 🌺 Skilled Therapists: Our experienced therapists are dedicated to tailoring your herb bath treatment to your unique needs, ensuring the highest level of relaxation and rejuvenation. 🍃 Natural Healing: We harness the power of nature's herbs and botanicals to provide a holistic and soothing spa experience. 🌟 A World of Pampering: In addition to our bath treatments, we offer a wide range of massages, facials, and wellness services to make your spa visit unforgettable. 🌊 Immerse yourself in the rejuvenating embrace of nature at Bustani Tropical Spa, where your journey to relaxation and revitalization begins. Indulge in the luxury of choice with our exclusive bath offers. Elevate your bathing experience—select the perfect blend to suit your mood and pamper yourself today. 1. Swahili Herbal Bath Experience Lemongrass: Benefits: A stress buster during bath time, lemongrass addresses a range of issues such as stomach ache, high blood pressure, convulsions, pain, vomiting, cough, and achy joints. Mwarubaini (Neem): Traditional Healing: Named "Mwarubaini" in Swahili, meaning forty, it reflects its reputed ability to cure over 40 diseases. Neem offers antifungal and antibacterial properties, providing relief from fever and wounds. (MBONO) Jatropha: Traditional Use: Boiled leaves and fruit act as a febrifuge, relieving pain, fever, inflammatory skin conditions, and potentially addressing tumors. Contains "Jatrophine," believed to have anti-cancer properties. Basil Leaves: Antiseptic Properties: Keeping skin soft and infection-free, basil leaves or oil added to your bath provide effective results. Mint Leaves: Aromatherapy Essential: Mint's strong and refreshing aroma aids in stress relief and mind rejuvenation. Inhale the aroma or add to your bath for immediate stress and depression relief. Lemon: Anxiety Relief: Lemon's scent helps relieve anxiety, promoting relaxation. A lemon bath warms and relaxes sore muscles, refreshing and cleansing the skin for increased energy. Ferula Assa-Foetida (Bunge): Versatile Healing: Used to cure various conditions, including asthma, cough, common cold, and menstrual pain. Known as the "Food of the Gods," it provides diverse health benefits. 2. Floral Spice Fusion Luxuriate in a bath infused with the harmonious mix of dry hibiscus, sea salt, dry lemon skin, rose flowers, dry rosemary, clove, cinnamon, and dry butterfly flowers. Elevate your self-care routine with this invigorating and aromatic experience. 3. Cleopatra Bath Embark on a journey of decadence reminiscent of Cleopatra's legendary beauty rituals. Our luxurious bath treatment combines the timeless allure of milk and honey. Cleopatra, renowned for her radiant complexion, was said to indulge in baths infused with these exquisite ingredients. Immerse yourself in opulence as the milk nourishes your skin with its natural proteins and lactic acid, leaving it feeling silky and hydrated. The honey, a symbol of sweetness and luxury, provides a gentle exfoliation and locks in moisture, leaving your skin with a radiant glow. Allow the aromas to transport you to a realm of relaxation and rejuvenation. Step into the footsteps of a queen and experience the indulgence of a Cleopatra-inspired bath with our sublime blend of milk and honey—fit for royalty, crafted for you. Book your Herb Bath Treatment now and embark on a sensory voyage like no other. The paradise you've been yearning for is closer than you think!

  • Exploring Matlai's Kitchen Department

    Prepare to awaken your taste buds and embark on a voyage of flavors at Boutique Hotel Matlai. Our Kitchen Department is where the magic happens, and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the talented individuals behind the scenes. What sets us apart is not just our dedication to exquisite cuisine but our commitment to weaving together global culinary influences with the rich tapestry of Zanzibari traditions. Our kitchen boasts an array of delectable options, whether you’re enticed by our daily changing 3-course menu, our carefully curated specialties, or our extensive selection of dishes available for lunch or dinner. It’s a journey that spans continents and cultures, offering an experience that’s as diverse as it is delightful. And for our vegetarian guests, we’ve prepared a special menu that’s sure to delight. Head Chef Saleh took his first step into Matlai on February 29, 2012, when the hotel first opened. Though born on Pemba Island, he grew up on Ugunja Island, where traditions of dancing and Taryn songs shaped his upbringing. Chef Saleh’s journey into the kitchen started with training at Serena Hotel Zanzibar. As the head chef, he finds the kitchen’s most challenging aspect to be the need for extensive knowledge of various dishes and efficient department organisation. His expertise lies in the hot kitchen and pastry department, where he enjoys crafting a wide range of delectable dishes and transforming creative ideas into culinary delights. Chef Ibrahim has been a part of Boutique Hotel Matlai since 2013. Born and raised in Zanzibar, he cherishes the tradition of Mwaka Kogwa, a celebrated Swahili festival. Chef Ibrah’s culinary journey included two years at Maruhubi College and field study at Living Stone Restaurant. The kitchen’s most challenging aspect, according to him, is mastering the details, having extensive food knowledge, and being creative to exceed guest expectations. He relishes working in Matlai’s kitchen, particularly the hot kitchen, where his experience thrives. Chef Herson has been a part of the Boutique Hotel Matlai since 2018. Hailing from Tanzania mainland, specifically Kaminufa village in the Simbo district of the Kathari region, he brings with him the rich traditions of his homeland. His journey into the kitchen began with his enrollment at the Machui Community College in 2012, where he studied hotel management in the kitchen department. This educational pursuit continued until 2013, setting the foundation for his culinary career. One of the most demanding aspects of his role is the need for extensive knowledge across various culinary domains. Chef Herson excels in crafting pastries and working in the hot kitchen. He also really appreciates the environment at Matlai, were he is able to try always new things and work with a great team. Breakfast Chef Zuhura who joined Boutique Hotel Matlai in February 2021, began as a trainee, and after six months, she became our dedicated Breakfast Chef. Hailing from Jusha Rejima village, her background involves mining activities, which adds a unique touch to her culinary skills. Zuhura pursued a 3-month course at Awana Vijano Centre college before joining our kitchen department. The most challenging aspect for her is to continually create new dishes and combinations while ensuring her cooking knowledge is top-notch. She excels in the hot kitchen and pastry department and loves working with the team, crafting delightful dishes for our guests. Junior Chef Yussuph joined Boutique Hotel Matlai in October 2022 as a trainee and completed his 6-month training. He’s now our Junior Chef, bringing a blend of tradition from Mwanza Regim village, known for fishing and cattle keeping. Yussuph’s culinary journey started at Bitech College in Mwanza, Tanzania, and furthered with field study in Zanzibar. For him, the most challenging aspect of being a chef is maintaining unwavering focus and paying attention to the smallest details. His heart lies in the hot kitchen, where he enjoys crafting exquisite dishes that delight our guests. As you explore the culinary world within Boutique Hotel Matlai, you’ll discover the passion and artistry that our chefs bring to each plate. Our daily 3-course menu, à la carte options, and the fusion of international and local flavours are a testament to our dedication to making every meal memorable. In our kitchen, we celebrate the vibrant, the diverse, and the delicious. Join us in savouring the essence of Sansibar kitchens, where tradition and innovation come together in every dish. At Boutique Hotel Matlai, we’re not just cooking; we’re crafting experiences, one exquisite meal at a time. Your culinary adventure begins here.

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