Must-try Mauritian Delicacies
March 28 2019
March 28 2019
Mauritius is a sublime and utterly unique destination. Dramatic mountains, shimmering sugar cane fields and thriving tea plantations fade into powder-white beaches and cyan-blue lagoons, remarkable, luxury hotels adorn the picture-perfect coastlines and temples, churches and shrines dot the island. It’s the land of dodos and deers, of wars and colonists, slaves and free men - there’s nowhere else in the world quite as special as this tropical gem.
A melting pot of cultures, religions and histories, Mauritius is simply fascinating. Apart from must-visit natural wonders and enchanting tourist hot spots, this island’s cultural aspects should also be explored. One of the best ways to get a better understanding of the diverse population and a feel for the cultural heritage of the country is to book your trip over one of the vibrant annual festivals and visit the different historical sites. But another exceptional way to better understand the destination’s multi-cultural landscape (you will easily notice the Indian, Asian, European, French and African influences in Mauritius), is to indulge in the various local dishes, each of which is truly delicious.
From Chinese noodles and Indian-inspired curries to tropical temptations and sumptuous Creole variations, the Mauritian food scene is wonderfully thrilling and Port Louis, with its huge variety of local street food stalls, is definitely the place to indulge.
Overwhelmed by the amazing variety? Here are some of the must-try Mauritian delicacies:
A type of Mauritian dim sum, Boulet, special Mauritian steamed dumplings, is definitely worth trying during a trip to Mauritius. These delicious morsels are typically filled with chicken, seafood or vegetables, the most unusual being chayote (a local vegetable in the shape of a pear). A hugely popular dish, Boulet can be enjoyed at many restaurants across the island and a host of food stalls, specifically in Port Louis’ Chinatown (where you are likely to find the best Boulet on the island).
It almost doesn't get more Mauritian than gato piments—fried to perfection and devilishly soft on the inside, these ‘chilli bites’ are absolutely delicious and arguably the must-try delicacy in Mauritius. Created using a mixture of chana dal (or split peas), turmeric, spring onion and chilling, they are then served on freshly baked, warm baguette and finished off with a smattering of hot sauce. Be warned though, they can be highly addictive.
Palm Heart Salad
Unusual yet incredible, the palm heart salad or “millionaire’s salad” is a tasty Mauritian delicacy created using the very centre of the palm tree—the palm heart. This unique ingredient is then delicately sliced and served raw and is often accompanied by smoked marlin and enhanced with a light, yet sensational, dressing. You should be able to find this at one of your hotel restaurants.
It would be a travesty to head to Mauritius and not try at least one of the mouthwatering curries on offer. Inspired by their Indian counterparts (Indian food was introduced to Mauritius by the indentured labourers), the Mauritian curries are all about flavour and are truly out of this world. The joy of eating curry in Mauritius isn’t limited to their aromatic dishes alone, but the dishes accompaniments and trimmings that enhance the experience, which can include everything from rice, lentils and roti, to dumplings and fried noodles (also known as mine frite). For those that enjoy seafood, the octopus curry is a must.
The “upside down bowl” in Mauritius is a wonderful Asian-inspired dish, created with either chicken or prawn, a variety of vegetables that have been stir-fried, delicious Chinese sauces, and rice. These ingredients are then layered in a bowl and turned upside down when served. A fried egg is added to finish the dish off.
The Mauritian version of the Biryani is closely related to the one enjoyed in India. This phenomenal, and hugely popular, dish is masterfully created over three hours and is as delicious as it is complex. Some of the many ingredients used to create Biryani include star anise, ginger, garlic, ghee, a protein (usually chicken, beef, lamb or fish) alongside onions, potatoes, saffron and yoghurt. A delicious amalgamation of flavours, this tasty dish, served with achard, is unmissable.
Another highly regarded Mauritian delicacy is the national dish of Mauritius—dhal puri. This pancake-like snack is made out of yellow split peas, grilled on a Tawan and then filled with a type of Mauritian bean curry and topped off with rougaille (a delicious local sauce). Dahl puri is typically served alongside achard (pickled vegetables) and chutney.
Another favourite among the must-try Mauritian delicacies is definitely the fish vindaye, a traditional seafood dish that packs flavour. Rich and satisfying, the Mauritian fish vindaye centres on pickled fish that is then fried and served in a sumptuous sauce made with mustard seeds, ginger, garlic, turmeric and onions.
Another sensational street food treat, gajak refer to an array of delicious deep-fried Mauritian snacks that are sold everywhere on the island (including from the back of motorbikes or in small stalls at markets). Some of the favourites tend to be; samoosas, gateau patat (potato fritters), gateau aubergine (eggplant fritters) and cassava chips. The deep-fried morsels can be rich, so you can balance it out with a fresh coconut drink.
This may seem like a strange thing to add on a must-try list, but the reality is the tropical fruit in Mauritius is absolutely incredible—both the flavour and variety of fruit in Mauritius. From gorgeous mangoes and guavas, lychees, coconuts and pineapples—there’s a huge array of exceptional, and often times unusual, fruit to try in Mauritius. Enjoy a tropical fruit salad, try a fruit you have never tried before in a local market or grab some sliced Victoria pineapples or mangoes marinated in vinegar, sugar and chilli, simply served with chilli salt as a snack, or buy and enjoy a whole coconut—this is what island living is all about.
It wouldn't’ be a list of must-try Mauritian delicacies without the mention of at least one local sweet treat! Gato coco, or sweet coconut cakes (or cookies), are extremely popular the island over and can be served in different shapes and colours and even come in different flavours.
If these exquisite Mauritian delicacies have your mouth watering, then you definitely need to head to the tropical island nation to try them out for yourself. Sample the different delicacies, try your hand at a Mauritian cooking class, or simply sit back and enjoy the sensational offerings at your hotel, this is bound to be a trip to remember.