Mauritian cuisine, or what to eat on a paradise beach?

Mauritian cuisine, or what to eat on a paradise beach?

"Oh guacamole," I was happy to see the green paste. I scooped up a full spoonful and popped it in my mouth. The next ten minutes were one of the worst of my life. In Mauritius, the ubiquitous green paste is not shredded avocado. Its composition is green chili peppers blended whole - mixed with garlic, vegetable oil, seasoned with salt and lemon "to taste". Fire.

Mauritian national cuisine was undoubtedly influenced by the colonizers. First on this African island near Madagascar came the Dutch, and then the Portuguese. They made history by eating all the dodo birds and melting all the turtles into oil. Then the French and the British ruled the area. The combination of African, Indian and French cuisine gave rise to Creole flavors. And to the British, the island owes the importation of workers from India, who brought their food customs with them. For the average tourist, local flavors are most similar to Indian cuisine.

We began our adventure with local food with pancakes purchased from a portable cart. Returning from a visit to La Vanilla Nature Park, where the turtle population is being restored, we felt hungry. Right on cue, a battered white cart appeared on the left side of the car (traffic in Mauritius is like in Britain). Under a large umbrella protecting it from the sun, and that day more from the heavy rain, was a petite Indian woman. Communicating in broken French we managed to buy a Dholl Puri. As I read later, these pancakes are prepared with the addition of ground yellow peas. Various sauces (including red bean curry) are put inside. The dish is vegetarian. And at the end, the vendor asked the question "pimente? That is, spicy? If you opt for the spicy option, it is topped with red chili paste before wrapping the edges of the pancake. It is eaten with paper and the cost is 2 zł.

Dholl Puri is the most popular street food in the country

We bought two more pieces of Gateaux Piments from the same cart. These falafel-like balls are made from long-soaked yellow peas (the seeds are soaked for a minimum of 12, and preferably 24 hours). They are then blended to a smooth paste and chives, coriander, salt and the ubiquitous chili are added. The whole thing is mixed and formed into small balls, which are then dropped into hot oil. Gateaux Piments is a popular breakfast dish. Local people eat it in a baguette greased with butter and drink tea.

Experimenting further we also purchased one Chana Puri. These are small yeast balls, deep-fried with a chickpea filling. The vendor tears the ball open a bit and pours hot sauce inside. Yummy.

After tasting all the snacks from the first cart, we headed across the street to see what the competition was selling. An identical cart and identical, at first glance, older Indian woman offered us fried chicken and soup.

Here a more exclusive version with a place to sit. On the table a bowl with "pimente", which you can help yourself. Coca-Cola was drunk just in case. Chicken turned out to be an invention very similar to American fast-food. The worst choice of that day was undoubtedly the soup. It was made of lentils, but had a strange sticky consistency.

Playing on the beach several times we came across food trucks selling "noodles", which are fried rice noodles also popular in Poland. This is undoubtedly the Asian influence on the island's cuisine. For about 10 PLN you can buy a plate of noodles with chicken, shrimp, meat, egg and vegetables. Note, as most of the island are followers of Hinduism and Islam, the meat is usually mutton. We did not once come across beef or pork.

Beer is very popular in tourist destinations. You can drink it on the beach, but the limit for the driver is zero per mille.

Mauritius is famous for its sugar cane cultivation and this is where the famous Dark Muscovado, or dark cane sugar, comes from. Another export of the island is tea. Visiting a plantation like Bois Cheri, combined with tasting local tea, is a good idea for a cloudy day. In the company's store you can buy tea (prices are higher than in a regular supermarket though) and local rum.

In the beautiful, hot weather you will want to drink. Be sure to replenish your body with water. At every traffic jam you can buy fresh juice, coconuts with a straw, or sugar cane juice. At the market there are also stalls selling cold water with lemon, pomegranate juice, or vanilla. The cost of a plastic cup is about 1zł. As we are already at the market, in the capital of the country - Port Louis, but also in any other city, you can buy fresh fruit. The following deserve attention: mangoes, pineapples (much sweeter than those available in our country), passion fruit and lychees. And those less known: longan - similar to lychee, with a stone inside, before eating it you have to peel the skin; graviola, whose taste is comparable to lychee and mango combined, is famous for its healing properties; Samarangi capetka in appearance resembling a pear, in taste a little crispy apple.

In addition to fruit, it is also worth stocking up on spices and burning peppers. You can buy such already dried and packed or fresh by weight. All of them burn mercilessly. And immediately the winter in Poland takes on a life of its own.

Teresa Grzywocz

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