Eating in Zanzibar: Lukmaan for Biriyani, Stone Town

Lukmaan is a small restaurant hidden in the inner streets of ‘Stone Town’, Zanzibar. Traditionally furnished with a buffet styled service it is a gem to discover.  Although many of the locals know where it is,  as a tourist getting there could involve a bit of  great intuition, a local guide or really good google map reading skills. My encounter with Lukmaan was quite coincidental. We had arrived at the island in time for lunch. Having cleared immigration we walked out of the ferry and down the road (Mizingani) towards Forodhani garden. The street has a number of cafes serving western style cuisine; pizzas, burgers, pastas and coffees but we were in the mood for a local culinary experience.

At Forodhani garden we stopped by a cafe opposite ‘Bayt al Ajaib’ where we were welcomed by a young waiter offering us a selection of very fast-foodie items. We exchanged a few pleasantries and then inquired of a place that we could have ‘Biryani’ (a popular rice dish with Indian origin).

‘Lukmaan,’ he replied doubtlessly.

‘How do we get there?’

‘Are you familiar with the town?’

‘Not really, we are just visiting for a few days’

‘Walk to the back of the forte. You’ll find a wide road. Walk down that road past a hotel and you will find a junction. Turn left and keep walking. At the end of that road turn right then walk to a round-about where you’ll find people playing cards. That is Joe’s corner. Turn left and walk straight down to a mosque. Lukmaan is a few steps from the mosque.’

Getting spoken directions and then hoping to get to your destination is a classic mistake that you should not get caught into.  As straight forward as it may seem, stone town is not that easy to navigate. The tall flats surrounding every street and the odd alley add an unexpected twist. It was quite a relief when we eventually got a volunteer guide.

The first thing my sister did when we got to Lukmaan was favourite the spot on Google maps. Bless her!

What to Try Out

  • Chicken biryani –  comes in a good portion, the curry is well spiced and has great consistency. The chicken is seasoned with tandoori masala and lemon and it was a great accompaniment to the dish. All this for TSH 4500 (less than $3).
  • Rosella/Karkade  juice – made of Hibiscus. Is red coloured and usually a bit sour. The cafe’s recipe was aromatic but too sweet. It costs TSH 1500 which is less than a dollar.
  • Tamarind juice – a traditional brown and sour juice served in the coastal regions of Tanzania. It was well balanced and did not taste too sour as it usually does. Comes at the same price as the Rosella juice.

My Culinary Recommendation while at Lukmaan

If you are looking to try out the local cuisine then Lukmaan should not be missed. Overall the restaurant had a good selection of Swahili food that all looked delectable, the service was good, the venue quiet relaxed and the prices very reasonable. Situated at the heart of the city you will not have to worry about where to eat (at least for the first few days).

Don’t forget to check-in; FourSquare, Facebook, Google Maps!

lukmaan entrance

traditional swahili roof

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pay counter

buffet lunch

wooden mirror

biryani

lukmaan google map

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