Mauritius, the paradise island- a land of a diverse cultures and a perfect blend of various cuisines, offers you a unique culinary experience along with its warm Creole hospitality. Credit goes to the fact that the island saw a massive influx of indentured labourers in the 19th century from Asia, and with the existing inhabitants of the island notably the European colonists and slaves from Africa, this resulted in an amazing melting pot nation.
The Mauritian demographic can be classified by different ethnic groups which consist of Indo-Mauritians, Creoles, Sino-Mauritians and the Franco-Mauritians. The Indo-Mauritians make up about 68% of the entire population. They came from different parts of India including Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and many other parts. This is why you can always find traces of both Northern and Southern Indian cuisine in Mauritius.
The population consumes mostly Indian based dishes such as curry, chutney, rougaille (tomato paste cooked in a Creole style) and pickles which are made with locally grown ingredients. The Mauritian versions of these dishes have a local flavour and differ, at times considerably, from the original Indian recipes.
Besides, the Indian influence there are Chinese based dishes that have not failed in fusing with the Creole cuisine. It is good to know that at the end of the 19th century, Mauritius saw the arrival of the Chinese migrants from the south-eastern part of China. Today they form part of 2% of the entire population.
They came up initially with their traditional Chinese cuisine but eventually adapted with the other cuisines.
You can find a number of Chinese restaurants in Mauritius offering some really delicious fried and steamed food such as noodles and boulettes (dumplings).
Additionally, European flavours have influenced Mauritian cuisine but most predominantly French cuisine which has blended with other existing cuisines on the island over the centuries.
French based dishes have become more popular in the island especially with menus like bouillon, tuna salad, the daube, civet de lièvre or coq du vin served with good wine.
You can definitely see more of its influence in the Mauritian pastries such as petit fours, puffs (deliciously light, flaky pastry made from dozens of layers of specially prepared pastry dough), turnovers (a turnover is made by placing a filling on a piece of dough, folding the dough over, and sealing it), pockets, popovers (a popover is a light, hollow roll made from an egg batter), éclairs (a kind of long custard-filled French doughnut), and shells.
Being among the reputed countries that produce their own rum, Mauritius’ rum production dates back to the colonial period. It was in 1638 that sugarcane from Java was first introduced in Mauritius by the Dutch. Even then, the propensity of making rum out of sugarcane was strongly recognized. Sugarcane was mainly cultivated for the production of ‘arrack’, a precursor to rum. Today both industrial and agricultural rum are produced in Mauritius. The agricultural rum is a high quality rum known and appreciated for its specific aroma and flavour. Another locally produced beverage is Phoenix Beer which has a light taste and mostly preferred by the locals and tourists visiting Mauritius.
Below is a list of some tantalising Mauritian delicacies and drinks:
Local Mauritian Food
Get your hands on the tasty and yummy Indian pancake-style flatbread stuffed with all sorts of Indian curries made with spices. The roti or dhol puri has its origin from Bihar in the northern part of India.
You will usually find curries seasoned with turmeric, cumin and coriander hence giving it a tasty aroma.
You can choose your curry with vegetables, fish, or chicken while ordering.
If you do not like chillies make sure you ask for none. You can easily find the roti or dhol puri vendors in every street food corner or snack shop.
Samosa is another Mauritian treat brought from India.
It is very much appreciated by the locals and foreigners.
It can be served for breakfast or an afternoon snack; simply dip this triangular shaped savoury into a mint or coriander chutney and appease your taste buds.
The samosa is filled with boiled potatoes, tuna or mince, spices, herbs and curry powder in a small triangular shaped ‘pastry’ which is then deep fried until light brown.
Definitely one of the signature Indian dishes brought to Mauritius, the Mauritian briyani (know in India as Biryani) is a very tasty meal made with basmati rice, lots of herbs and spices for the flavour, potatoes and beef, chicken or seafood.
The flavourful briyani is very well known to the Muslim community in Mauritius who specializes in it. You will always see this delicious menu on table especially when there are festivals like Eid Ul Fitr in Mauritius.
This typical Mauritian snack is made up of yellow split peas and seasoned with chilies and coriander.
The name means ‘Chili Cake’ or alternatively called ‘Gateau Dhal’ but rest assured it is far from being hot and spicy.
This snack is very popular in Mauritius and is easily found in almost all food corners.
The Mauritian version of dumplings, boulettes are steamed balls made out of meat, chicken, tofu, shrimps, or vegetables which are served in a clear stock garnished with fresh chives.
They originate from the Chinese cuisine and are sometimes eaten with fried or boiled noodles. You can find them everywhere in Mauritius but certainly those from ‘Ti couloirs’ or the ‘Fabrice’ eatery in Grand Bay have the best taste!
Locally known as ‘Mine Frites’, this dish comprises of fried noodles cooked in a Mauritian style, usually accompanied with chicken, vegetables, beef and/or shrimps.
This dish also comes from the Chinese cuisine and is easily available. If you would like it to be spicy and hot then you can add the accompanying garlic sauce and chilli paste.
This typical Mauritian dish is made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices and herbs like thyme and coriander.
It is often cooked with ‘poisson salé’ (salted fish) and is served as a side dish with other curries.
You can add other food in it such as peas, soya, fish, meat, or even gateau piment.
You can find it while ordering your roti or dhol puri.
Fruit Salad with Chilies
This peculiar fruit salad comes with sliced fruits like pineapples, mangos, red guavas, olives and cucumber which is served with chilies and tamarind sauce. This type of salad is very much a favorite of the locals, and can be found at popular street corners. You can always order it without the chilli.
Local Drinks of Mauritius
One of the popular drinks in Mauritius is the Alouda drink which is similar to the Cape Malay drink falooda. Alouda is a pink sweet milky beverage with tapioca balls, flavoured with syrup and sometimes you can find ice cream in it. The best place to have it is at the Central Market of Port Louis.
Mauritius is full of coconut trees, and obviously you can’t leave the island without drinking the refreshing coconut water which you can find on most beaches. After drinking it you can ask your vendor to cut it into half so that you can eat the white flesh.
This beer is locally produced with a nice light taste. A chilled Phoenix Beer can always be had while chatting with friends.
You can always enjoy some chilled rum, flavoured with fruits such lychee, mango, passionfruit, and pineapple. Surely a delicious cocktail you can never miss.