For an Island that’s not visible on the global map and a tiny population of 1.2 odd million, Mauritius is full of surprise. The food in Mauritius is inspired by 3 continents and multiple countries within them. To understand all of this well a little bit of history would be essential.
The micro island was discovered by Arabs in the 16th century, the Europeans followed in their footsteps and colonised it one by one in Dutch, French and British colonies. The British finally set it free in 1968 and since that Mauritius has been relying on its own little Sugar, Tourism and recently acquired IT industry. Since they were colonised multiple times by 3 different countries, which means they also bought their culture, food and other habits into this otherwise deserted island where the extinct flightless bird Dodo once lives. Food remains to be a basic necessity and most of these countries had a strong presence in Asia (Majorly India and China) and they bought their own manual labour.
This outgrew the Mauritius food beyond imagination, the modern-day Mauritian food is a brilliant mix of Chinese, African, English, French and Indian (Bihari & Tamil). All of them survive in harmony following their own traditional ways of cooking and their unique dishes that have slightly evolved over time but are still extremely delicious. It turns out to be a pleasant surprise for anyone who visits and likes to try new cuisine.
Here is a list of my top 10 food in Mauritius-
1. Dholl Puri– Inspired By Indian Dal Puri, It’s a soft fluffy pancake filled with Pulses/Lentils (I might get attacked by a Mauritian as both those things are different as per them, but globally they are interchangeable terms) The pancake ie Puri is rolled with pickled vegetable, beans and chutney to give it a nice tangy hit.
2. Farata – Inspired again by Indian Paratha, this is a cousin to Dholl Puri. The stuffing changes from Dal to Pea. The size of pancake is thicker and this is heavily fried. Just like every other India food, the food in Mauritius is carb-heavy.
3. Curry– Inspired by Indian and European Curry, they are generally served as a set meal with rice and salad on the side. The curries are not as spicy and liquid as Indian ones but still very good. The selection of meat could vary from mutton, chicken, fish, prawn or even game meat. This is a well-balanced meal and would keep you going all day long if you are an active kind.
4. Heart of Palm Salad – Uniquely Mauritian/African, If I had to choose only 1 snack that I could gorge on from all the food in Mauritius, this would be an easy choice for me. The salad is made from Heart of Palm ie the inner stem of Palm tree the taste is similar to artichokes. It’s incredibly refreshing and light, a must-try for everyone who plans to visit Mauritius.
5. Smoked Marlin– Uniquely Mauritian/African, Tropical people and their choices can be very different from the rest of the world and here is one such example. Mauritians like to eat Smoked Marlin fish for breakfast with a boiled egg on the side. It is an extremely healthy choice but most of us are not accustomed to consuming Smoked fish for breakfast, to say the least. If you are the adventurous kind and willing to try then certainly give it a try. They also make their own Egg Benedict where the bacon is replaced with smoked marlin and tastes great too.
6. Boulettes– Inspired by Chinese Dim Sums, these are steam boiled dumplings of varied fillings ranging from chicken, fish to vegetable served in a bowl full of clear soup. It’s another healthy option for a snack.
7. Briani– Inspired by Indian Biryani, this is similar to south Indian kacchi Biryani where meat and rice are cooked separately and layered together for a final steam cooking. A nice spicy option for people who have a higher threshold of spices.
8. Alouda– Inspired by Indian Falooda, this is a perfect drink for summer with milk, sugar, some almond shavings and tons of basil seeds for the cooling effect. You can happily sip this all day long in the scorching heat of Mauritius. If you happen to be in Port Louis food market, there is a shop on the corner that supposedly sells the best one in town.
9. Tarte Banane– Inspired by French Tartes, this is a product you will find in every small bakery of the country. With fresh banana filling and lovely golden crust. You will not ask for a better companion for your tea/coffee.
10. Napolitaines– Uniquely Mauritian/African, the shape and look will probably say it is something similar to a French Macaron but it actually isn’t. This is a well-baked cookie sandwich with raspberry jam in between topped with another layer of beautiful pink coloured sugar coating that wraps the whole thing as a sandwich. Although overly sweet this one dish that puts a smile on every Mauritians face even if they are 1000 miles away from home.
All the Mauritian food items I have listed are freely available all across the country on roadsides or small shops barring a curry or Biryani for which I will make particular suggestions. I had great beef Briani at Stardeg and had amazing curry at a retro on my way to Chamarel, it didn’t have a particularly noteworthy name but any retro serving local Mauritian food will have a curry to please you. I would suggest you try the same if you can. Not to mention I had loads of coconut and boiled peanuts which is another great snack.
Since you have come this far, I will also list the food items in Mauritius that can be carried back to your country as a souvenir and hold symbolic value to it. My top pics for the same would be-
- Tarte Banane
- Brown Sugar
- Vanilla Pods
- Vanilla Tea
I had a lot of other food items in Mauritius too, but these were particularly noteworthy that I would suggest everyone try if they can. For all the Mauritians, let me know if there is anything else I missed or should try if I visit your beautiful country again.