Gallery: Zanzibar: See How Spices Are Grown

Crushed Pepper Leaves
Crushed Pepper Leaves

These spicy leaves are crushed to reveal their smoky undertones. The pepper plant offers a subtle difference in smell and flavor between the vine, root, berries, and leaves.

Fresh Cloves
Fresh Cloves

Zanzibar's cloves used to dominate the market (though today, Indonesia produces much more). The clove flower has a distinct scent compared to the dried version. The fresh flower has many more floral notes and is far less intense.

Red Curry with Lobster
Red Curry with Lobster

Beachside restaurants all offer their own versions of curry. This one, from Baraka Beach Bungalows in Nungwi, was my favorite by far. The cook himself brings the cinnamon bark from his own tree. The mix of spices is what makes this dish shine: the cardamom flower playing second fiddle to cinnamon and black pepper in the tangy, spicy curry.

Cardamom
Cardamom

Multiple types of cardamom are grown on this island. This type comes in the form of little white buds at the base of a tall stalk.

Turmeric Root
Turmeric Root

Used simply as coloring, this root leaves a bright yellow color on anything it touches. Despite its powers of dying fingers, clothing, and curries, it's not used here to impart flavor to a dish.

Curry Leaves
Curry Leaves

These leaves impart both flavor and color, giving the green hue to most green curries.

Bixa Orellana
Bixa Orellana

More commonly known as the lipstick fruit, these tiny colorful beads leave a trail of bright red, paintlike color in their wake. Almost completely flavorless, it's a popular additive in red curries.

Lipstick Fruit in Use
Lipstick Fruit in Use

As demonstrated by our enthusiastic guide, the lipstick fruit has more than just culinary uses.

Mexican Vanilla
Mexican Vanilla

Not native to the island of Zanzibar, this pricy pod is a tough one to produce. Instead of bees, the flowers are hand-pollinated with the tips of palm fronds carrying other flowers' pollen.

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20120831-220851-spice-island-zanzibar-space-tour-nutmeg.jpg