Mauritian food is simply delicious! This unique cuisine offers true diversity thanks to the influence of Chinese, African, Indian and European styles and flavours, and it is a reflection of its multi-cultural population and history. Foodies can find almost anything on offer from fine dining and Michelin-star chefs to roadside snack outlets and the ubiquitous street food vendor. There are almost too many menu items to choose from, including: the delicate ‘heart of palm’ salad; smoked marlin; fresh grilled prawns; mouth-watering curries; tasty rougailles; stir fried vegetables; and a plethora of street snacks, from dholl puris to gateau piments (fried chilli cakes) and samosas! With so much on offer, it is no wonder that eating is almost considered a national pass time!

Mauritius cuisine is a blend of Chinese, African, Indian and European influences, a reflection of its multi-cultural population and history. A great many dishes and culinary traditions were inspired through the ages by former slaves, Indian labourers and Chinese migrants as well as European colonists, including tomato based rougailles, curries, daubes (stews), and fried rice or noodles to name just a few. Most ingredients can be locally sourced with a great selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, including of the exotic variety, available from local markets and supermarkets, as well as locally grown meat, chicken and fresh fish from the surrounding sea. With the superb gastronomic range available in Mauritius there is sure to be a dish to delight even the most demanding of gourmets!

Indian cuisine in Mauritius is influenced by the mountainous north of India with its Persian roots providing the aromatic Basmati rice popular throughout the island, to the subtropical south, where Portuguese influences are evident, giving rise to the no meal passes without freshly baked bread, usually flattened and in plate size form. Chinese cuisine whose exclusive aim is to accentuate the specific flavours of the dishes and by ingenious spicing to delicately underline them.

One of the earliest sources of meat on the island was a previously unknown species of bird, the dodo. Dodos were descended from a type of pigeon which had settled in Mauritius over 4 million years ago. Weighing up to 50 pounds and with no natural predators to attack them, they lost their need and ability to fly and when the Portuguese began to use Mauritius as a stopover for ships engaged in the spice trade from 1505, the dodos proved to be a convenient source of fresh meat for the sailors. Unfortunately the dodo population was decimated and further reduced when the Dutch later brought rats, monkeys and pigs to the island which ate dodo eggs from ground nests. Less than 100 years following the arrival of humans on the island, the once abundant dodo became endangered and later extinct.

In 1639, the Dutch governor Adrian Van der Stel brought deer from their colony of Batavia (now, Indonesia), hoping that they would multiply and eventually become a food source for their young colony of Mauritius. They were released at the feet of Lion Mountain in Vieux Grand Port and from there spread all over the island, although they damaged the flora, they nevertheless did feed the local population.
When the Dutch decided to leave the island in 1709, they sent their dog packs after the deer in the hope of destroying the food source that could potentially benefit other visitors to the island. Some deer however, escaped to Port North Quest (Port Louis) and this is where the French settlers landing in 1715, found that they had congregated. The domestic pigs that were also introduced to Mauritius in a similar fashion by the Dutch eventually became wild and to this day are hunted, along with deer in forested reserve areas (domains) today.

As with most sugarcane producing countries, distilled cane rum is a national pride. Perhaps even more popular are the locally produced beers, in particular Phoenix (lager), Blue Marlin (Pale ale). Wine has also grown in popularity and made huge progress with imports from all over the world. Of course all the international alcoholic beverages are also available in supermarkets.
Soft drinks and fresh fruit juices are widely available, both imported and locally produced, but the national non-alcoholic beverage that stands out is Alouda, a milk based drink with basil seeds. As far as hot drinks go, tea drinking is a national pastime, locally produced from plantations, including from the Bois Cheri estate, and it is often flavoured with vanilla. Coffee is also on the ascendency with more and more cafés found in the shopping malls of Mauritius.

Sweets 3

Mauritius produces sugarcane and has many types of fruits such as tamarind (both brought by the Dutch during the 17th century), mangoes, pineapples and others. Then French intendant Pierre Poivre brought many spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, so you get the feeling that the island is sweet!
As Mauritius has an incredibly rich and diverse food culture, infused with influences from its mixture of European, Creole, Chinese and Indian people; there is an abundance of beloved local sweet delicacies from traditional Mauritian desserts like sticky banana tart or sweet potato cakes filled with freshly grated coconut – great with a mug of warm chai. You will naturally also find the desserts and sweets from the countries of the population’s origins, including ‘barfi’ from India and ‘gateau la cire’ from China.

© 2015 MYP Online Marketing Ltd. All rights reserved.