A mix of inspirations and phenomenal local produce has created an innovative culinary scene that’s uniquely Mauritian
Mauritius has a few special ingredients that help it offer some of the finest food experiences in the southern hemisphere
Mauritius has a few special ingredients that help it offer some of the finest food experiences in the southern hemisphere. The seafood from its surrounding ocean, the glorious home-grown fruits and vegetables ripened in the golden sun, and a population made up of an exotic mix of cultures, all bringing their traditions - and recipes - with them.
Combine that with the ambitious and passionate chefs, working to show off their local produce in the most interesting and exciting ways, and you’re onto a winner.
Mauritian food is a mix of French, Indian, Chinese and Creole styles, but it’s largely the produce on the island that makes it feel so fresh and exciting.
Locally caught fish is eaten with rougaille, a thick mildly spicy tomato sauce made from sweet tomatoes ripened in the Mauritian sunshine, cooked with indigenous onions, garlic, thyme and coconut chutney, made from local coconut palms.
Seafood is predictably popular, with restaurants, hotels and local stall-owners heading to the fish markets at the crack of dawn to buy the catch of the day, focussed on a rapid journey from sea to plate.
Tropical fruits including pineapples, paw paw, grapefruit and sweet dwarf bananas are eaten both with sweet and savoury dishes.
And thanks to the French influence, pastries and buttery breads are abundant too, for when you need a carby European fix.
Haute Cuisine and fine dining
For visitors, eating out in Mauritius can be very affordable - even at the higher end. But for the top level dining experience, you usually have to look to the hotels and resorts.
Despite its small size, the island has coaxed a number of celebrity and Michelin-starred chefs to spend a season or two getting to grips with the foodie scene so you can be sure of a quality meal to match any international standards.
Some of the best include Stars at Shanti Maurice and Safran at Le Tousserok, which both offer guests a culinary journey, and are available for those not staying in the hotels.
For other classic dining experiences, Le Château de Bel Ombre and La Case du Pecheur are all worth booking a table at.
Cuisine as culture
Food is an important cultural connector in Mauritius so to enjoy a really authentic experience on your visit, you need to get involved in everything from the fishing trips and fresh produce markets to the street food and fine restaurant dining.
Fortunately, eating your way around the island is pretty easy.
In Port Louis, try roti chaud, an Indian flatbread. Or Chinese dim sum - Mauritians have their own version of the Chinese dumpling classic, called boulet and eaten in a spicy fish broth.
In any of the towns, give yourself an authentic street food experience by finding one of the stalls selling dholl puris. They are all over the island, but if you happen to be in Rose Hill, ask the locals for their favourite and you’ll be directed to Dewa. Look out too for the gateaux piment, a savoury, fried split pea patty that tastes a little like falafel.
For more of a sit-down experience, head out for the popular Indian-inspired dish with a Mauritian twist - biryani (or briani). This rice-based curry is often made with some of the other protein on the island - meat and poultry in the form of beef, chicken, lamb and ‘goat’ (usually mutton), though you can find other options such as octopus, duck, wild boar and salt fish.
Looking to the sweet side of things, when you’re on the beach look out for roaming vendors selling freshly-sliced native pineapples, which are smaller and sweeter than other varieties, sold in bags shaken with fiery chilli. Wash it down with water sipped straight from a coconut.
Sugar was Mauritius’ economic mainstay before it became a tourist destination, and the islanders still have a decidedly sweet tooth. To try a variety of different sugars, head to L’Aventure du Sucre, the museum dedicated to the white stuff.
Speaking of sugar… Because of its abundance of sugar cane, rum-making is a growing pastime in Mauritius, and while it’s not quite at Caribbean levels yet, it’s still pretty tasty and becoming increasingly adventurous, with the three distilleries competing to make the most interesting flavours mixing local vanilla with various spices.
But if that’s all just too much sweet for you, fear not, Mauritius’ local beer is the award winning Phoenix lager, which just so happens to go down perfectly with a beach sunset.
The exotic island of Mauritius, the Indian Ocean’s tourism jewel offering an abundance of scenic beauty, hidden treasures and adventure. With its wealth of luxury, beauty and culture, and a variety of adventure experiences, Mauritius has something for everyone. This beautiful Indian Ocean Island is truly yours to explore and experience. “Mauritius, beautiful, welcoming, generous, surprising, colourful, sunny… and, hopefully, unforgettable!”