There is something unique about ordering and eating traditional Mauritius food. First on the list is chili. Do you know what to do if you swallow a chili? What about indulging in our spicy cuisine without side effects? The information you need to enjoy our cuisine during your island holiday is here.
When you return home you might be hooked on Mauritian eating styles and decide to eat a chili with each meal!
Good question! I think the best description for Mauritius food is a unique feast for your palate. I really mean it. Just imagine ... Indians, Chinese, French and Creoles have contributed their style and spices to our food history and culture. Each community has borrowed, exchanged and mixed their traditional ingredients.
Mauritius food spices
Mauritian Indians with tasty curries, Muslims with biryanis, Chinese with noodles, French with garlic of course and creoles with a bit of everything.
French ‘Herbes de Provence’ like thyme and parsley have even found a new home in our curries. They are sold tied together in small bundles.
The fact is … for us Mauritians a meal has to include at least one chili or piment thrown in for good measure. Don’t stress. You’ll be relieved to learn that chilies are often served on the side. The vendor or waiter will ask you: ‘with or without chili?
Many types of chilies
Some insider information for you.
So if you ask for ‘bread’ with your creole food you might be served our delicious weeds. If you want what is called bread in your country ask for ‘dee pen’ which means bread in creole.
Fish with a Mauritian sauce of coriander, saffron and chili
You'll be offered mouth watering local delicacies at these humble family restaurants. So during your travels through the island ....
It happened when I was manageress of a boutique hotel in Mauritius. The waitress came to the kitchen with a bowl of ketchup and told me the guest wanted the ketchup to be heated. I was puzzled.
What the guest requested was a hot sauce!
So for a hot sauce ask for ‘sauce piment’ or chili sauce. If you want something ‘not hot’ say ‘pah for’ which means ‘not spicy’ in creole. If you say ‘not hot’ you’ll be served lukewarm or cold food.
I hope our cuisine makes sense …
Creole tomato 'rougaille' sauce
PLEASE remember if you are new to spicy dishes go easy at first. Your body needs to adjust itself to spices from our cuisine. Don't start your holiday eating too much spicy food. You might have a runny tummy and blame it on food poisoning or water.
Let your taste buds gently take over with fresh ginger, garlic, a pinch of turmeric, cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon … and maybe the odd chili?
So many tasty flavours!
Savoury Indian Mauritian food
Not all boutiques are fashion shops on the island. Many are small greengrocer shops mostly owned by a Mauritian Chinese family. In case you are wondering why the cook in your rented accommodation says he or she needs to go to ‘la boutique’.
A typical ‘boutique’ offering a colourful range of spices. Some of them are displayed on the pavement. Mauritians make good use of available space.
Typical food shop or boutique in Port Louis
We prefer to buy vegetable and fruits with street vendors down the road or at bazaars. Freshly picked in the morning not like supermarket food. We have kept this habit and support our vendors as much as we can. I hope you will too.
Vegetable market in Port Louis
Keep an eye for fish stalls alongside the beach where the catch of the day is displayed. You should be there at about four in the afternoon. Freshly caught tropical fish is delicious simply grilled with a slice of lemon. A delicacy you should not miss out of all the Mauritian food.
Simply find out where is the nearest stall or market from your accommodation.
Grilled tropical fish - simply delicious
I’ll never forget the milk vendor who came to our home every morning riding his bicycle. Milk was stored in two homemade metal containers attached to the handle bars.
You would sometimes see milk vendors with their bicycle standing in the middle of a stream when you drove past a river. They were adding water to the milk. Business is business … Now long life milk has taken over.
Her name is ‘dholl puri’ or ‘dhal poori’. Imagine a thin soft pancake made with grounded yellow split pea flour filled with all sorts of tasty goodies. Bean curry, wild herbs, sweet tomatoes …
Dholl Puris our famous food and national dish
The history behind our ‘national’ dish is fascinating. When indentured labourers arrived from India in the 18th century they could not find the flour they use back home to make their flat bread. So they used yellow split pea flour and the ‘dhal puri’ was born. Mind you our unique specialty is also ideal for the ‘banting’ diet.
We eat rice or bread for breakfast, lunch and supper. That’s our main food. What makes our cuisine so delicious is the addition of curries, spices, tasty local vegetables, pickles … Plus ‘rougaille’ our famous creole sauce made with tomatoes.
Popular rice dish
You'll find a lot of vegetarian dishes in Mauritian food. Three quarter of our population is of Indian origin and Hindus don't eat beef. Halal certificates are issued to slaughter houses so our Muslim community is taken care of.
Fish has become a little expensive for many locals. The odd fisherman you see fishing from the rocks in shallow water will bring his catch to the family.
Mauritians don’t have a habit of eating out. We might have a meal at a restaurant to celebrate something. Maybe a birthday or anniversary. We don’t eat what we cook at home in restaurants and in any case restaurant prices are high compared to the average salary.
Like elsewhere fast food restaurants are popular with the younger generation.
Our street food is healthy and delicious! It costs a few rupees to sample all types of exotic Mauritian food: finger food, pineapple slices with chili (!) sauce, fried noodles, Indian type snacks...
Your island holiday will not be complete without tasting our traditional dishes. You'll have an amazing choice in Port Louis.
In the meantime take a tour of Mauritius food types and enjoy your food safari.