How To Prepare Sorpotel – A Zanzibar Cuisine

Zanzibar cuisine is unique of all because it’s enriched by what we can call diversity. It’s a blend of different traditional foods with Portuguese, Arab, Chinese, Indian, Bantu and British influence. Out of Zanzibar cuisine comes Sorpotel recipe which is unarguably one of the most popular dishes that blends in Portuguese and Indian roots.

The delicacy comprises of boiled meat. In Zanzibar, however, the dish is prepared with essential parts of meat like liver, tongue and heart. A blend of spices is then added to the dish to enhance its flavor.

When perfectly prepared, the final dish is savory with an intense aroma to invigorate your taste buds. In this edition, we’ll take you through the entire cooking process for the tasty Sorpotel dish.

But before we jump right into our recipe, get to know more about Zanzibar culture:

Zanzibar Culture

Zanzibar is located 25 to 50km off the East African coast. Along the coast are two popular islands which are Ugunja(the main one which is referred to Zanzibar) and Pemba island. Zanzibar is the name of the Archipelango which was once a state of Zanzibar which united Tanzania and Tanganyika.  The Zanzibar Island is within Ugunja with its capital in Zanzibar city.

The island produces spices which influence the culinary art and a reason why it’s referred to as “Spice Island”. 95% of the populations living in Zanzibar are Muslim.

And just like in many societies, Zanzibar women take part in all the food preparations while men provide for the family.

The people of Zanzibar are very welcoming, and love inviting visitors for feasts. When invited for a meal in any Zanzibar home, you should bring some presents for the hosts. Older men usually appreciate tobacco or cigarette while women prefer any gift that may lower the expenditure. You are not supposed to start eating your food without the presence of the host.

If the food is hot, you are not supposed to blow it with your mouth but instead wait until it cools down.

[bctt tweet=’In Zanzibar, blowing hot food is not allowed’]

Now let’s switch gears and delve into our today’s recipe.

Cuisine: Zanzibar

Serves: 6-8



1 pound of beef (tongue)

1 pound of liver

500g beef (heart)

Palm or olive oil

1tbsp. cumin

1 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tsp. of ground turmeric


1 cup of vinegar

2 cloves

1tsp chilli pepper

2 medium-sized onions

1tsp of ground ginger

3 cloves of fresh garlic (minced)

1 tbsp tamarind paste


  1. Add water in a large saucepan and leave to boil. Put the meat and cook it until tender
  2. When the meat is cooked, remove from heat and drain the remaining broth in a bowl.
  3. Reduce the meat into sizeable pieces.
  4. Add cumin, black pepper, turmeric, cloves, chilli, and cinnamon in a grinder. Grind to obtain a uniform mixture then add tamarind and half of the vinegar.
  5. In another saucepan, sauté your garlic, onions, and ginger.
  6. Once the onions are soft, add them to the paste and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the meat and the remaining vinegar. Simmer it for one hour 20 minutes under low heat. Garnish with coriander and serve with ugali, rice or any dish of your choice.

The preparation of Sorpotel can quite be challenging if you are doing it for the first time. The trick is to be careful about how you prepare the paste.

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