Our Favourite Mauritian Foods
October 25 2017
October 25 2017
Our Favourite Mauritian Foods
The volcanic island of Mauritius rises proudly and dramatically from the warm tropical waters of the Indian Ocean and is a haven for intrepid travellers looking for immersive and authentic experiences. Thanks to a fascinating and rich history, Mauritius is a melting pot of cultures with a unique culinary scene that is a feast for the senses as much as it is for the palate. With exotic influences from China, India, Europe and even Africa itself, the food is as eclectic as the wonderful people that call Mauritius home. This means a wealth of varied dishes that are downright delicious (and satisfying). Here are some of our favourites:
It would be impossible to create a list of superb Mauritian foods without mentioning dhal puri, which is touted as the unofficial national dish of Mauritius. This incredible roti-like flatbread, made with a tasty yellow split pea paste, filled with bean curry (or dhal) and pickles and served two in a portion, is certainly of the most satisfyingly delicious Mauritian foods. You may also find them served with Mauritian Rougaille, which is a delicious, spicy tomato-based sauce made with spring onions, garlic, ginger and pepper. The best part about these delicious morsels? If you find that you can’t get enough of them, you will be able to find them almost anywhere in Mauritius (and they are wonderfully easy to make at home).
Palm Heart Salad
This Mauritian delicacy, nicknamed “Millionaire’s Salad” is as tasty as it is interesting. Made from the hearts of palms—the ‘heart’ being the inner tube of the palm which is extracted once a tree that has been growing for about seven years is felled—which are sliced and served raw in a dish with salad leaves and often the addition of smoked marlin or another type of seafood, and is sometimes served with a sauce rouge (red sauce) as a dressing. The name Millionaire’s Salad comes from the fact that an entire palm has to be cut down in order to extract one ‘heart’ and each one typically only caters for three portions of palm heart salad, making the base ingredients of the salad rather unique and expensive.
Another of the best Mauritian foods, Mauritian boulettes or dumplings are absolutely delicious. Much like their Chinese counterparts, these glorious bites of goodness come in a number of different flavours and combinations, and they often also differ in the way in which they are served (typically in either a soup or a salad). One of the most popular boulettes is called Niouk Yen, which is a simple and unique Mauritian-Chinese invention made with chayote, which is then steamed and served with either soy sauce, chilli or garlic sauce. Typically, Mauritians don’t make boulettes at home, but, much like the tourists, the locals usually buy them at one of their favourite marchand boulette (or dumpling sellers) instead. The types of dumplings you can get in Mauritians are Niouk Yen (also known as boulette chouchou), meatballs, saho mai, wonton, fish balls and smoked tofu. Some of the best boulettes are easily found at any corner shop in Chinatown in Port Louis.
Mauritian foods are very influenced by Indian cuisine, due to the fact that many Indian labourers were brought into the country a few centuries ago to work on the sugar plantations. This is why you will find a host of flavourful and enticing curries on most menus around the island and it’s why a trip to Mauritius couldn’t possibly be complete without sampling one or two of the local variations. These dishes usually come with a huge array of side dishes ranging from rice to rotis and from Chinese fried noodles (mines frites) to dumplings. Unlike many Indian dishes, these curries are typically mild with a chilli paste served on the side instead. Typically, Mauritian curries are made with vegetables, meat or some sort of seafood or fish with base ingredients of tomatoes, garlic, turmeric, curry leaves, curry powder and garlic. Interestingly, Mauritian curries don’t typically include coconut milk or coconut cream like many Southeast Asian dishes. Instead, the use of fresh herbs such as thyme is very common.
Fish Vindaye is another classic Mauritian dish and one of the most popular curries on the island, and it can be enjoyed in many forms and with various accompaniments. The base of the curry is made up of turmeric, garlic, ginger, onion, mustard and fish (which can also be replaced by vegetables). Traditionally, it’s served with rice, lentils, chutney and pickles and is a dish you must try during your holiday in Mauritius.
Another excellent street food delicacy, gateau piment, small chilli cakes or dhal fritters, are served the island over and are very popular options for snacks amongst the locals. Another Indian-inspired dish, they are often served on bread and eaten hot. Made with yellow split peas, coriander, cumin, onion and chilli, these little gems are then moulded into little balls and fried to perfection.
Traditionally a Muslim dish reserved for special occasions such as weddings, religious ceremonies and engagements, biryani is another choice Mauritian food. This rice-based dish, cooked with the best quality long-grain Basmati rice, consists of a combination of fragrant spices (the most famous being saffron), meat and yoghurt (although it’s very easy to make vegetarian variations) and is traditionally made in a special metal pot called a deg which is placed over a fire and the ingredients slow cooked.
The Mauritian version of biryani is different to the Indian version because of the addition of potatoes and the crispy onions added at the final stages of preparation. But one thing is for sure, it’s an absolute must try when in Mauritius but it comes with a word of warning; it will be incredibly difficult to resist heading back for seconds or even thirds.
Being completely surrounded by the ocean, Mauritians have unrivalled access to a selection of delicious fresh seafood which takes centre stage in many of the local dishes—curries, some variations of biryani, palm heart salad and many more. In fact, an incredible culinary experience while on holiday in Mauritius is to indulge in a seafood dinner on the beach. Some of the exclusive resorts on the island offer the immersive and memorable experience of dining on some of the finest Mauritian food, toes in the sand, to the captivating sounds of a traditional Sega extravaganza.
Don’t take our word for it, come and savour the culinary delights for yourself. And if you are looking for the perfect place to stay while you explore the excellent local cuisine, then book a stay at La Pirogue, named after the classic Mauritian fishing boat. At La Pirogue, we pride ourselves on giving our guests an exceptional choice of dining options, from themed buffets and a sophisticated twist on the local street food to our phenomenal seafood barbeque that takes place in a romantic setting on the beach. Join us for a phenomenal stay while we take you on a delightful culinary journey of Mauritius.