While I was in Zanzibar, I watched as the tide went out every morning and the local women made their way to the ocean with a pot, each returning with an octopus to sell that day. Because of this, octopus is a staple in the Tanzanian archipelago. It can be cooked many different ways, but in coconut curry is probably the most popular — with good reason! This classic Zanzibari recipe is so tasty and nourishing, and also works with any fish or seafood you have on hand. The octopus needs pre-boiling in order to tenderise it. Simmering it in the curry afterwards allows it absorb the flavours.



  • 200g boiled octopus, chopped (see below)
  • 1 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 4 tbsp fresh tomatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Sauté onion and garlic in a little oil, add spices and let cook together for a short time.
  • Add tomatoes, octopus and coconut milk. Let simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

East by West tip: If you buy fresh whole octopus, you'll need to remove its eyes and insides, then wash it thoroughly under a running tap and slice into 1-1.5 inch pieces.  Place it in 1 litre of boiling water and boil for 20 minutes on high heat.

Jasmine Hemsley