If you’re looking to experience a country seamlessly, there’s no better way than through its food. And Mauritians know too well that the only way to your heart is through your stomach.
Over the years Indian, African, Chinese, European, and French migrants settled on the island of Mauritius and brought the flavours of their homeland with them. Mauritian cuisine harmoniously blends cuisines from across the world and effortlessly adapts it to the personal taste of the islanders. This blend greets you with some familiar and some peculiar dishes, but there’s always something new to discover and try. From flaming hot to steamy to saucy to spicy to tangy and crunchy, they have it all! Your mouth will begin watering the moment you step out of the plane.
For all foodies out there, here’s a list of must-try Mauritius food on your escapade to Dodoland.
Dating back to colonial times, Roti is a staple food of Mauritius. Today, roti is overwhelmingly consumed at any time of the day and it’s available literally at every street corner. What locals do is spread curry- you’ll read more about this soon- on to the roti and then add rougaille, a tangy tomato sauce with garlic, spring onion and ginger. It’s finished with whole or crushed chillies and vegetable pickle.
It’s no secret that Mauritians love their carbs. Most of the staple food of Mauritius is accompanied by servings of bread and rice. While the favourite of islanders is jasmine or basmati rice, there are plenty of other options available including gluten-free rice. Similarly, another staple food of Mauritius is bread which is often a major part of Mauritian breakfasts. Native indulge in a bread roll with cheese or butter paired with a cup of coffee or tea. For lunch, bread rolls are stuffed with a variety of condiments and fillings to make up the Mauritian equivalent of sandwiches.
With such strong influences from India cuisine, great curry is bound to be a part of Mauritian cuisine. However, it’s not the same curry you’re used to in India. The Mauritian version of curry has the same base but different flavours. Also, there are different types of curries - Indian ones with onion, garlic, turmeric and fresh curry leaves to Creole curries with a tomato base. Curries are typically served with bread or rice, lentils and other delicious accompaniments. Although in terms of flavour they are in a league of their own, what makes Mauritian curries exciting and stand out is the throngs of accompaniments and Mauritian side dishes. From the ubiquitous mazavaroo (chilli paste) to mine frite (fried noodles) to rice, farata (roti), lentils, achard (pickled vegetables) to chutneys and dumplings, it’s one dish that’s wholly stands for variety is the spice of life!
A famous curry is the octopus curry and the adventurous can try it, but for those with cautious taste buds can stick to straightforward flavours.
Owing to Chinese influence and Chinese inhabitants, Mauritius has delicious Cantonese food. Mauritians have made their own dim sum, called boulettes. Locked inside these juicy dumplings is chou chou (a pear-shaped vegetable), prawns, fish, shrimp, taro, chicken, tofu or pork. Either dig into it as a snack or as a soup with broth poured over it and topped with spring onions and the staple food of Mauritius, chillies. Simply utter the words “ene bol cinq” and you will be served with a steaming hot plate of dumplings.
It’s not just travellers but locals as well who go gaga over this dish; it’s such a favourite that it can be called Mauritius’ national dish. For Indians, it’s like a dosa or paratha made from yellow split-peas and stuffed with Mauritius’ famous food rougaille and cari gros pois (bean curry). Coriander satini (chutney) and achard (pickled vegetables) are perfect accompaniments. You’ll find this dish served everywhere from street stalls to restaurants.
This iconic street food of Mauritius will be the inescapable food during your stay on the island. Gateaux piments are tiny balls of fried chilli goodness that are crispy and crunchy on the outside and as soft as cotton on the inside. These chilli fritters are an impeccably balanced combination of split peas, turmeric, chilli, cumin, coriander and finely chopped onion. Some prefer it on its own or dipping it in tomato/coriander sauce while others prefer them on a toasted warm, crunchy baguette with a dash of hot sauce. Either way, it will definitely win a few of your taste buds, if not all of them!
A large part of Mauritian cuisine constitutes of seafood. You can have it in any way you like - sautéed, fried, grilled or baked. The seafood here is fresh, which is why whether you choose stews, curries, Indian or Chinese dishes, you’ll enjoy your meal.
Now the economy of the island has diversified, but for several hundreds of years, the currency of Mauritius was sugar. The vast sugar cane fields which dot the island vouch for the fact that sugar is still one of the main items of export. Some of the world’s best sugar is produced in Mauritius, and you may not even realise this as you’re happily munching on your fourth serving of caramelised dessert. Apart from the desserts, you can try the different delicious sugars of Mauritius at the fascinating sugar museum L’Aventure du Sucre. There are nearly 9 different types of sugars that you can taste at the museum.
It may sound typical to a tropical island but do not leave Mauritius without drinking water from a coconut. Not only is the water extremely refreshing in the heat but it’s also very tasty. There are loads of coconut vendors on the beach. Buy a coconut, sip on it and take a picture of yourself. After all, nothing says I’m on a tropical getaway like being on the beach and sipping on a coconut! The inside of the coconut has succulent flesh - you can take it back to the vendor, ask him to cut it up and eat it.
Similarly, Mauritian Pineapples are much sweeter than pineapples found anywhere else. Most Mauritian dishes come with pineapples, which adds a sweet and tangy twist.
Yes, you have more than one reason to get excited and biryani is one of them. Not only is it the favourite dish of our nation but Mauritius too! This Mauritius famous food takes inspiration from the Persian and Indian version but it’s closer to the Indian one. Biryani takes over three hours to prepare. The process begins by alerting the entire neighbourhood with the aromas of throwing in garlic, chillies, ginger, and spices into a skillet with hot oil and ghee. Next, inside a cooking pot, various layers of meat, potatoes, onions, yoghurt, and saffron are put in to work their magic. The result after three hours is tender meat, fluffy rice, creamy potatoes and crispy caramelized onions. It’s akin to heaven on a spoon.
A traditional and very popular dish in Mauritian cuisine, essentially, it’s a tomato-based sauce with a combination of spices that lends it an incredibly rich flavour. As it’s a recipe which is handed down from generation to generation, it comes with a set of variations with spices like garlic, onion, ginger, cilantro, curry leaves, spring onions, chillies, thyme, etc. With the same base sauce, people add their own variations to it with eggs, meat, seafood, tofu, and whatnot - the choices are endless!
When it comes to Mauritian dishes, they have their own twists and so does this fruit salad. Forget your typical fruit salad and in place of it, picture bits of jew plum, guava, mango, love apple, cucumber, and pineapple mixed together and topped with a tangy thick tamarind sauce. For a dash of zing, Mauritians add white vinegar and chillies. You can now stop visualizing this sumptuous Mauritian dish and rush to the beach or market and buy one for yourself. If you cannot tolerate spice, coconut water is great to wash it all down and calm your fiery palate.
Phoenix beer is an award-winning, local beer of Mauritius. It’s a lager that’s crisp and refreshing and pairs well with nearly all dishes that you get in Mauritius. You can also sit by the beach, sip on it and watch the sunset.
While you cannot compare the rum on this island to that of Caribbean or Reunion Island, it still ranks pretty high and tastes good. Agricole rum is famous; instead of molasses it’s made from sugarcane juice. The other rum that is famous is one which is double-distilled and aged in oak. The distilleries on the island produce rum which is infused with a variety of flavours like citrus fruit, spices, kumquat, coffee, and vanilla. Since they’re sweetened with sugar, these rums are easier to drink for those who aren’t huge rum fans as well.
Mauritian cuisine like its culture is a conflation of African and European influences and punchy Asian flavours. Their cuisine echos the soul of the island while embracing modern trends. If you’d like to experience these robust flavours, it’s time to book your trip to Mauritius with Holxo.
We promise you an unforgettable trip filled with peachy memories for a lifetime.
by Holxo Travel Specialist
by Holxo Travel Specialist
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