Pweza wa nazi, the mouthwatering Zanzibari seafood dish prepared with octopus and coconut milk

Francis Akhalbey Jul 13, 2018 at 02:00pm

July 13, 2018 at 02:00 pm | Foodie Friday

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

July 13, 2018 at 02:00 pm | Foodie Friday

Pweza wa nazi -- Photo Credit:

The beautiful island of Zanzibar is definitely a tourist’s haven. Known for its historic towns and monuments as well as beaches, you definitely won’t run short of interesting places to check out and activities to indulge in when you visit.

What further makes an experience on the island extra special is their deliciously tasty and unique cuisines. In light of this, Face2Face Africa spotlights one of the special dishes on the island, Pweza wa nazi. Meaning “octopus and coconut” in Swahili, this dish is prepared by boiling octopus in coconut milk, lime juice, curry, cardamom, garlic, cinnamon and other spices.

Check out the recipe courtesy

Ingredients (Serves 4 as a main)

  • 1 medium-sized octopus
  • 8 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • ½ teaspoon of whole peppercorns
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • Small amount of canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 red onion – evenly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 3cm piece of ginger – finely chopped
  • 125g cherry tomatoes – cut into quarters
  • Salt & pepper
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 150ml water
  • 2 limes – juiced
  • Small handful of fresh coriander leaves to garnish.


  • Begin by cleaning the octopus. If you have a very wonderful fishmonger, he or she may have done this for you, if not, make a slit at the base of the head using a large knife, and remove the small hard ball of cartilage that you find inside, along with any other head contents.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove top. Add the octopus, reduce the heat to a low boil, and cook for half an hour.
  • Remove the octopus after this time and drain the cooking water. Allow the octopus to cool to a point where you can handle it, and then cut, starting at the tentacle tips, into 4cm pieces. At the top of the tentacle, where it is thicker, shorten the lengths a little so that they stay bite-sized. At this point, you can refrigerate the octopus for a few hours if you would like to continue to prepare the dish later in the day. Even if you want to continue with the preparation straight away, it is a good idea to refrigerate the octopus briefly while you get on with preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  • To prepare the spices, remove the cardamom seeds from their pods, and place these in a mortar and pestle. Add the cloves to the mortar and pestle, along with the whole peppercorns. Crush to a fine powder, before lightly toasting, together with the turmeric, cinnamon stick, and star anise, in a small dry fry pan over a medium heat for two minutes, or until the spices become fragrant. Then place aside briefly while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  • In a deep saucepan heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook until translucent before adding the chopped ginger and crushed garlic. Cook together for a further 3 minutes, stirring all the while to ensure that the garlic does not stick. Take the pot off the heat at this point, and swap it for a large griddle pan.
  • Brush a griddle pan with oil, and heat until very hot. Take the boiled octopus pieces from the fridge, and, using a pair of tongs, chargrill these until the octopus begins to colour golden all sides and is showing some griddle nice marks.
  • Moving the hot griddle aside, off the heat, swap the pans again. To the pot containing the fried onion, ginger, and garlic, add the toasted spices, and, employing the tongs once again, the chargrilled octopus pieces. Add the quartered cherry tomatoes to the pot, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir everything together before adding the coconut milk and water. Bring to the boil then, once boiling, reduce to a simmer.
  • Cook for 40 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened to a curry consistency. Just prior to serving, stir in the lime juice, and do a quick seasoning test. Add more salt, pepper, or lime juice if you’d like.

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