Cuisine of Mauritius
The must-eat snacks in Mauritius include baguette fromage, moulkou, caca pigeons, daubes, farata, samosas, gateaux pomme de terre, dholl puri, langouste à la creole, gateaux piment, gateaux bringelles
Mauritius is a paradise for the senses; first for the eyes with its beautiful and breathtaking landscape, and second for the taste with its variety of flavors and aromas inherited from the rich migration history of the island; namely the former slaves, Indian workers and Chinese migrants as well as the different colonies which ruled the country.
Thus Mauritian cuisine is a perfect blend of native African, French, Chinese and Indian cuisines, with many dishes adapted through time with local ingredients, which make them unique to the island now. It is a food lover’s paradise, where you can sample a variety of different and tempting cuisines; Indian curries, breads (naan, farata) and pickles being prepared and served alongside French daubes and Chinese stir-fried noodles, all using locally available ingredients.
The Dutch who settled on the island during the 17th century have brought deer, sugar cane, and fruits such as tamarind. Nowadays ‘Curry cerf’ (deer curry) is one of the Mauritian dish par excellence which you should not miss tasting, while in Mauritius. The French colony has also influenced the Mauritian cuisine with their cooking methods, leaving behind dishes such as the bouillon, tuna salad, the daube, civet de lièvre or coq au vin. Throughout the years some of the dishes have been adapted to the more exotic local ingredients which brings to them a unique flavor.
During the 19th century, after the abolition of slavery, the British colony decided to use Indian workers to work in the sugar cane fields. They came from different parts of India, each with their own culinary tradition, depending on the region where they originated. Those indentured labourers brought their cuisine with them. Thus nowadays on the island you can find dishes from northern as well as southern Indian cuisine such as a variety of flat bread called chapattis or roti, curry, chutney, rougaille (tomato paste that is very popular with fish or meat) and pickles. Through time the dishes have been adapted, and the Mauritian versions now have a local flavour and at times may differ considerably from the original Indian recipes.
Dholl puri (a flatbread spread with a thin layer of yellow split peas, which are then rolled up with a variety of pickles, curries and chutneys) and roti, have become one of the preferred meals of the Mauritians. Biryani from Mughal origins is another favorite not to be missed, it is a dish made with local spices, oil, mixed ingredients, vegetables and meat. The wonderful smell of biryani will surely tempt your taste buds. It is a must taste meal while on the island.
The end of the 19th century saw the migration of the Chinese to the island, mostly from Canton. The Cantonese region bears the best reputation in Chinese cuisine for its variety and sophistication. The arrival of the Chinese in turn enriched the Mauritian cuisine by introducing wok cooking and multiple sauces like soy sauce. Today rice is the staple diet of the island. The Chinese have also helped in making noodles, both steamed and fried, popular. Chinese appetizers such as hakien (local version of the spring roll with a flour batter replacing the traditional rolled wrapping), crispy chicken and crispy squid, chopsuey have become part of the Mauritian folklore. Today what would the Mauritian cuisine be without our traditional fried rice, fried noodles, ‘bol renversé’ and ‘mine bouillie’ which are Chinese legacies. Restaurants serving Chinese cuisine are present all around the island, and offer a variety of chicken, squid, beef and fish dishes, most typically prepared in black bean sauce or oyster sauce. They are among the most popular and preferred restaurants by Mauritian families.
Along the years each community has adapted and mixed each other’s cuisine to their liking, which has resulted in a Mauritian cuisine mostly known as the Creole cuisine, which is a blend of different ingredients and savours. Almost all traditional Mauritian recipes contain tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger. Spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves are a big part of our cuisine. Pierre Poivre who was an administrator intendant during the French colony brought many spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. The usual daily meals in Mauritius includes rougailles, curries (beef, chicken or fresh fish) served with white rice and pulses. Curries also often feature more unusual meats and seafood like octopus, salted fish or duck. A rougaille poisson salé (salted fish) is simply delicious. Mauritians love to eat rice and not surprisingly most dishes are accompanied by rice but if you prefer bread, just ask for it. We love to eat our dishes accompanied by hot chilli paste and pickles. Another common dish is vindaye, it was created before refrigeration existed since it could be easily be stored for many days without becoming rotten. It is a dish of fried fish or octopus that is preserved in a combination of mustard seeds, chilli, garlic, oil and vinegar. It’s still highly popular as an easy and delicious dish that can be served as a gadjack (name given to appetizers in Mauritius) or main dish with plain rice and pulses.
Mauritius is the place where you can start your day with a continental breakfast, satiate your hunger with an Indian lunch, take some rest on the scintillating beaches and end your day with a Chinese dinner. Being on an island, do not miss the opportunity to taste fresh seafood dishes. You can go for millionaire’s salad, which is unique and consists of shrimps, crabs, oysters, crayfish and rosenbergi prawns, served with sauce rouge on the heart of a palm tree, you can also ask for a delicious seafood basket! Delicious salads such as octopus salad and palm heart salad are fresh dishes which you will surely appreciate. Apart from restaurants, you can also find street foods which are very popular on the island, there are small trolleys everywhere on the Island that serve noodles, steam balls (boulettes), Kebab, roti and dholl puri. The must-eat snacks in Mauritius include baguette fromage, moulkou, caca pigeons, daubes, farata, samosas, gateaux pomme de terre, dholl puri, langouste à la creole, gateaux piment, gateaux bringelles.
The last twenty years have seen the arrival of fast foods, thus one can find burgers, pizza and chips easily on the island. You will therefore find a wide range of local but also western dishes without difficulty in Mauritius.
But somehow anyone visiting the island should try a pair of dholl puri with a large glass of Alouda or tamarind juice to have a genuine taste of Mauritius.
Come and enjoy your vacations in Mauritius and sample its wide range of delicious cuisines. Then what are you waiting for? Book your trip now!