In Summary
  • The tamarind tree, known as ‘mkwaju’ in Swahili, on which the café is located, is more than a hundred years old.
  • In Lamu, the tamarind is a revered ingredient in almost all dishes.
  • Tamarind Tree Café is located right next to the Indian Ocean, allowing guests to enjoy the amazing breeze

Lamu Island is home to a number of unique getaway destinations.

But the Tamarind Tree Café located right atop the tamarind tree on Lamu Island could be the most favourite attraction.

This café serves a variety of Swahili cuisines, all of which are accompanied by a cold glass of tamarind juice just like its name suggests.

The café is located along Lamu Old Town's Seafront Street.

Inside Tamarind Tree Café

Inside the Tamarind Tree Café. It has become a favourite stop for tourists visiting Lamu. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

SWAHILI CUISINES

The café gives both visitors and locals a taste of traditional Swahili cuisines and seafood dishes ranging from grilled lobster, grilled jumbo prawns, and fried garlic prawns, pan fried Calamari, octopus stew, grilled tuna fish and monster crab among other foods.

The tamarind tree, known as ‘mkwaju’ in Swahili, on which the café is located, is more than a hundred years old.

In Lamu, the tamarind is a revered ingredient in almost all dishes ranging from the famous tamarind juice, tamarind spices, and tamarind soup.

The tamarind is a must have for hotels, restaurants to households. It is an important aspect of the Swahili cuisine.

Inside Tamarind Tree Café

Inside Lamu's Tamarind Tree Café. The century old tamarind tree is right at the centre of the café. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

ENTREPRENEUR

However, two years ago, Babu Obbo, a young entrepreneur, having saved enough from his ventures and with the help of his brother who works and lives outside the country, decided to give the century-old tamarind tree a new face by setting up a café around it, with the tree itself located smack at the centre of the now exquisite joint.

“Initially when it was just the tamarind tree, people, both locals and tourists loved to just seat in its massive shade and enjoy the cold breeze of the Indian Ocean. Then I asked myself how I could turn this into a permanent fun joint with plenty of Swahili food and most definitely the tamarind juice itself. That is basically the idea that gave birth to the Tamarind Tree Café back in February 2016,” says Mr Obbo.

He says he used about Sh1 million in constructing the entire café using local builders.

Mr Obbo later left the venture under the management of his elder brother, Hassan Obbo, who is currently the proprietor of the joint.

Fatma Walad

Tamarind Tree Café's manager and chef Fatma Walad. PHOTO | KALUME KAZUNGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

INDIAN OCEAN FRONT

Another notable feature of the Tamarind Tree Café is that it is located right next to the Indian Ocean, allowing guests to enjoy the amazing breeze as they savour the sumptuous meals served here.

The café has two floors with the kitchen and reception on the lower part while the restaurant in its entirety seats on top of the tree.

Page 1 of 2