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Location of Mauritius
Location of Mauritius
A food market at Port Louis, Mauritius
A food market at Port Louis, Mauritius

The cuisine of Mauritius is influenced by the tropical location of the island as well as the cultural diversity which characterizes the country.[1] Mauritian cuisine is a blend of African, Chinese, European (mainly French) and Indian influences in the history of Mauritius.[1][2][3][4] Most of the dishes and practices into the culinary traditions are inspired by French culture, former African slaves, and Indian workers and Chinese migrants arriving during the 19th century.[5][4] Over the years, communities found in Mauritius have adapted and mixed each other's cuisine to their liking, resulting in the development of Mauritian cuisine.[6] While some popular dishes and desserts are consumed by Mauritians of all ethnic groups or communities, there are also form of cuisines which remain distinctly ethnic and are unique to a specific ethnic community due to their ancestral cultural and historical connections.[1] Local food which varies depending on ethnic communities therefore reflects the strong traditional, cultural, and historical influences of each community.[1]

Dishes from French cuisine have grown very popular in Mauritius.[citation needed] Sino-Mauritian cuisine is one of the most prevalent in the restaurants throughout the island.[6]

Common ingredients in Mauritius

The most common vegetable ingredients used in Mauritian cuisine are tomatoes, onions, lady's finger (called "lalo"), eggplants (called "brinzel"), chayote (called "chou chou"), garlic and chillies.[2] Rice and seafoods including salted fish, smoked blue marlin, shrimp, octopus, prawns, and crayfish (called "camaron") are also staple ingredients used in Mauritian cuisine.[3][7][1]

Spices such as chilli peppers, cardamon, and cloves are widespread in Mauritian cuisine.[1]

Common Food in Mauritius

Staple food in Mauritius

Rice is a staple food of Mauritius; it is found fried, boiled, or good in spices.[1] It is eaten along with other dishes made of vegetables, meat, and seafood.[1]

Common main and side dishes in Mauritius

Chinese noodles (fried or boiled), fried rice (called "diri frir"), "bol renversé", "boulettes" (i.e. fish balls, vegetables and meat balls in broth), Sino-Mauritian spring rolls, Chop seuy, haleem ("halim"), "bryani" (also written as "briani" and sometimes called "brié"), "dholl puri" and roti served with tomato sauce and pickles; curry, including "sept caris" (Tali), are popular form of dishes for the Mauritians regardless of their ethnicity.[3][8][9][10][6] Another popular dish is "vinnday" (or "vindaye");[11] the spicier version of vinnday is made by using a mixture of vinegar, mustard seeds, and turmeric.[1]

Mauritius is known for its sauces and curries which are typically served with meat, seafood, and vegetables dishes.[1] Other common preparations are chutney, archard, and pickles.[3] The Mauritian curries are unique as they rarely contains coconut milk, typically uses European herbs (e.g. thyme), and uses more variety of meat (e.g. duck) and seafood (e.g. octopus).[2] The rougaille (also written as "rougay") is a tomato sauce cooked with onions, garlic, chillies, ginger and variety of spices, which is popular; it can be eaten with fish, meat and vegetables.[1][2][8][9] The Mauritian versions of curry, chutney, rougaille, and pickles have a local flavour and differ, at times considerably, from the original Indian recipes.[5]

Common snacks in Mauritius

List of common/popular snacks in Mauritius
Name of Food Description Images
Gato Brinzel (lit. "Eggplant cake") It is of Indian origins and is a popular snack.[1]
Gateau Patates (lit. "Sweet potato cake) A small cake in the form of a crescent. The dough is made up of boiled sweet potato (patates), flour and sugar. Once the dough is kneaded, it is flattened and cut down into small circles which are then filled with grated coconut and sugar. The circles are then closed which ultimately gives the form of the crescent. These are then deep fried in oil and can either be served hot or cold.[citation needed]
Gato Piment (lit. "Chilli cake") Mauritian Chilli fritters; cakes made of split-pea combined with chilli. It is a popular snack in Mauritius.[3]
Mauritian Gato piment.jpg
Merveilles A popular street food eaten with "satini" (i.e. a form of chutney) or "mazavarou" (i.e. a form of red chilli sauce).[9]
Samosas Popular snack in Mauritius.[3]

Common desserts and pastries in Mauritius

List of common desserts and pastries in Mauritius
Name of Food Description Image
Biscuit Manioc A popular dessert across the different communities,[1] made of flavoured manioc biscuit cookies emixed with fresh fruits and ice cream.
Glaçon rapé A form of popular ice cream made of shaved ice mixed with varieties of syrup flavour, such as vanilla, strawberry, almonds, and pineapples.[9]
Napolitaine

Made of two sablé biscuits and jam coated with sugar.[9] They originated in Mauritius and are a local pastry despite their French name.[9]

Trip to mother-in-law
"Poudine maïs" (lit. "corn pudding"), also known as polenta pudding A sweet dessert which is well-liked and well known among Mauritians.[12] It is often served as a tea time snack.[12] The Creole community is known for their corn pudding.[1]

Common drinks in Mauritius

Common alcoholic drinks in Mauritius

List of common/ popular alcoholic drinks in Mauritius
Type of drink Name of drink Description
Beer Phoenix The national beer, which has been produced since the 1960s.[7]
Rum Green Island Green Island is a popular alcoholic drink.[1] It is manufactured in Mauritius, and is a variety of rum. People in Mauritius usually drink this beverage with cold Sprite and a piece of lemon.

Common non-alcoholic drinks in Mauritius

List of common/ popular non-alcoholic drinks in Mauritius
Name of Drink Description
Alouda Alouda is a sweet, cold beverage made with milk, basil seeds ("tukmaria") and slices of coloured agar-agar jelly which is especially refreshing on a hot summer day.[9][3] It can be found in different flavours, such as almond or vanilla.[9][3] It is a popular drink.[3]
Coffee Coffee is one of the most common types of beverages.[1][3] Coffee is locally produced in Mauritius.[3]
Mousse Noir It is literally translated as "black jelly"; it is a cold drink of Chinese origins made of grass jelly in water and sugar or syrup water.[13][14]
Panacon Panacon is a cold beverage prepared in religious ceremonies like cavadee. It is made with tamarind, sugar, lemons and cardamon.
Tea Tea is one of the most common types of beverages.[1][3] Tea drinking is well anchored in the Mauritian tradition with an average tea consumption of about one kilo per head.[15] The average Mauritians drinks black tea.[15]Tea is locally produced in Mauritius.[3] Teas produced in Mauritius are often flavoured with vanilla.[3]
  • Bois Chérie tea is a popular local tea brand on the island.[7]
Bubble tea The first bubble tea shop in Mauritius opened in late 2012 and since then, there are bubble tea shops in most shopping malls on the island. The bubble tea shop became a popular place for teenagers to hangout.[16]

History of Mauritian Cuisine: origins and influences

Dutch influences

During the Dutch Period (1598-1710 AD), sugarcane (from Java) was first introduced to the island.[17][18][5] At the time, Sugarcane was mainly cultivated for the production of arrack, a precursor to rum.[18][5] It wasn't until 60 years later that sugar as we know it was produced.[5]

In 1639, deer from Java island were brought to Mauritius by the Dutch governor, Adrian Van Der Stel, for livestock purposes.[19] Following a cyclone, the deer broke free and returned to the wild.[19]

Dishes with dodos

Mauritius was the only known habitat of the now-extinct dodo bird
Mauritius was the only known habitat of the now-extinct dodo bird

When it was discovered, the island of Mauritius was the home of a previously unknown species of bird, the dodo. Dodos were descendants of a type of pigeon which settled in Mauritius over 4 million years ago. With no predators to attack them, they lost their need and ability to fly.

In 1505, the Portuguese became the first humans to set foot on Mauritius. The island quickly became a stopover for ships engaged in the spice trade. Weighing up to 50 pounds (23 kg), the dodo was a welcome source of fresh meat for the sailors. Large numbers of dodos were killed for food.

Later, when the Dutch used the island as a penal colony, new species were introduced to the island. Rats, pigs and monkeys ate dodo eggs in the ground nests. The combination of human exploitation and introduced species significantly reduced the dodo population. Within 100 years of the arrival of humans on Mauritius, the once-abundant dodo became a rare bird.[citation needed] The last one was killed in 1681.[20] The dodo is prominently featured as a supporter of the coat of arms of Mauritius.

French and British Influences

French influences in Mauritian Cuisine/ Franco-Mauritian cuisine

A fish dish at a restaurant in Mauritius
A fish dish at a restaurant in Mauritius

Mauritius has had strong ties with French culture throughout its history and was deeply influenced by the French people's "savoir vivre".[6] French hunting traditions have also influenced Mauritian cuisine in the use of venison and wild boar, which is typically served on domaines or estates, restaurants and hotels.[3] As years passed by, some have been adapted to the more exotic ingredients of the island to confer some unique flavour.[5] French influences in Mauritian cuisine can be found in the consumption of Rougailles (light stew) scented with thyme, Daube (i.e. chicken or beef stew), croissants, baguette bread, bouillon, tuna salad, civet de lièvre and coq au vin served with good wine.[6][4][3] Many forms of French desserts and cakes were influenced by the Franco-Mauritians and can also be found in France;[1][5] such as tarts.[4] French tarts and milk coffee is well-like by Franco-Mauritians.[1]

Franco-Mauritian dishes and French influenced dishes, drinks and desserts, include:

List of Franco-Mauritian dishes
Types of Food List of food
Savoury dishes Stew
Soup
Salads Fish-based
Bread
Desserts and Pastries
Drinks Non-alcoholic
Alcoholic
  • Wine

British influences in Mauritian Cuisine

Main article: Tea culture

The liking for afternoon tea in Mauritius is an influence from the British who took over the island in 1810.[4]

Chinese influences in Mauritian Cuisine / Sino-Mauritian cuisine

Main article: List of Sino-Mauritian dishes

Sino-Mauritian cuisine includes both Chinese cuisine (transmitted from their ancestors and recently learnt through journeys to China) and localization of Chinese cuisine.[21] Sino-Mauritian cuisine typically consist of fried vegetables, oyster sauce, fried rice, meat, and fish.[1]

The 19th century saw the arrival of Chinese migrants, who came mostly from the south-eastern part of China;[6] these Chinese migrants were mainly Cantonese from Guandong, Hakka from Meixian and Chinese people from Fujian.[22] Chinese migrants mainly lived in harmony in the Chinatown in the capital of Port Louis and shared their culture with other communities.[22] They are largely credited for making noodles, both steamed and fried, and fried rice popular.[1][8] Sino-Mauritians also follow and/or have maintained some Chinese food traditions and customs. For example, the tradition of Chinese red eggs which are shared with family members.[22] It is customary for Sino-Mauritians to eat fried noodles on birthday celebrations.[11]: 104 

Between the 20th and 21st century, some Sino-Mauritian returned to China to learn new culinary dishes and returned to Mauritius introducing new dishes in their restaurant in Mauritius.[23] In the 21st century, Sino-Mauritians, who resided overseas (e.g. in China, Taiwan) for a few years before returning to Mauritius, also introduced new Chinese food and drinks culture in Mauritius. For example, Bubble tea drinking culture was introduced by Fabrice Lee, a Sino-Mauritian, who in lived in Taiwan for 8 years before returning in Mauritius.[24] The first bubble tea shop in Mauritius opened in late 2012; since then, there are bubble tea shops in most shopping malls on the island, becoming a popular place for teenagers to hangout.[16]

Sino-Mauritian cuisine include dishes, soups, appetizers, pastries, snacks and sweets:

List of Sino-Mauritian food cuisine/ Chinese-influence cuisine
Type of Food List of food
Appetizers Egg-based Dizef roti" (lit. translated as "roasted eggs")
Fried appetizers[13][5]
  • Chipek,[22] also called "sipek"; also known as "croustillants au tapioca" in French,[25]
  • Crispy chicken (碎炸香子鸡)
  • Crispy squids (椒盐鱿魚球)
  • Fried wantan
  • "Hakien" (local version of the spring roll with a flour batter replacing the traditional rolled wrapping)
Pastries and Snacks Sweet flavour
  • Almond biscuit
  • Fagao, called "Putou chinois" or "Poutou rouge"
  • Jian dui (commonly called "gato zinzli"; sesame balls; they are called jien-yan-e (Chinese: 煎丸欸) by Sino Mauritians[25]
  • Mooncakes; both Hakka and Cantonese version are found on Mauritius
  • Nian gao (called "gato lacire" in Mauritius);[25] niangao can be imported from China while others are locally made by families having passed the tradition from generation to generation,
  • Sachima, called "gâteau macaroni"
  • Tangyuan
  • "Tao Sa"/ Teosa, a flaky pastry filled with sweet bean paste[26]
Savoury flavour
Both sweet and savoury version can be found
  • "gato cravat" (sweet or salty version),[25]
Dimsum-like dishes Chinese dumplings, generally referred as "Boulettes"[7]
Filled Buns
Main dishes Chinese noodles are called "mines". There are varieties of noodles
  • Boiled Noodles,[8]
  • Chao mian; Fried Noodles, known as "mines frites",[3][8]
  • Rice noodles (called "meefoon"), made of rice vermicelli
  • "yee-mine";[9]
Rice
  • White rice (白飯) Plain steam rice - a staple food
  • "Bol renversé" (lit. translated as "inverted bowl" or "upside-down bowl",[4] a local interpretation of a Chinese dish which is composed of rice and vegetables at the base, a layer of meat or shrimp and a fried egg as a dish topping[3]),[9]
  • fried rice (called "diri frir")[8]
  • Munfan (烩饭), called moonfan
  • Zongzi, called "Zong", can be found in sweet or salty version
Side dishes Poultry Chicken in Sichuan sauce (川辣炒鸡片)
Chicken sweet and sour (糖醋鸡)
Duck Pekin duck
Fish Sweet and sour fish (糖醋淋班球)
Beef Sizzling beef with shallot and ginger (鐵板姜葱滑牛片)
Black Pepper Beef[13]
Mixed vegetables and meat based Chop suey[13][22]
  • Chicken Chop suey (炒什絮鸡片)
Soups Dumplings Sui kiow
Moon kiow
Poultry and vegetables Chinese corn soup[22][8]
  •  Chicken and corn soup (粟米鸡粒羹)
Pork and vegetables Hamchoy broth with pork (肉咸菜湯)
Sea-Food based
Drinks Cold drinks
  • Bubble tea (recently introduced in Mauritius in 2012)[16]
  • Mousse noir (lit. "black jelly"); it is made of grass jelly in water and sugar or syrup water.[13][14]
Hot drinks
Sauces and condiments
  • Oyster sauce[1]

Traditional Sino-Mauritian dishes and snacks which are also eaten on important traditional Chinese holidays or festivals are:

List of Sino-Mauritian dishes associated with Traditional Chinese Holidays/Festivals
Name of Festival or Holidays Name of food
Chinese New Year[4]
  • Chipeks; also called "sipek"; also known as "croustillants au tapioca" in French,[25]
  • Fa gao (which is called "putou chinois" or "poutou rouge" in Mauritius)
  • "gato crab",[25]
  • "gato cravat" (sweet or salty version),[25]
  • "gâteau macaroni", almond biscuits,
  • Nian gao ("gato lacire"),[25]
  • sesame balls (called "gato zinzli"),[25]
  • "Tao Sa"/ Teosa (Dousha), a flaky pastry filled with sweet bean paste[26]
Lantern Festival
Dragon Boat Festival
Guan Di Birthday, known as "Fete Mines"
Mid-Autumn Festival

Furthermore, Chinese and other Asian restaurants are present all around the island, and offer a variety of chicken, squid, beef and fish dishes, most typically prepared in black bean sauce or oyster sauce.[5] Mauritian families often consider a dinner at an Asian restaurant as a treat.[5] Delicacies such as shark fin soup and abalone soup can only be found in specialized Chinese restaurants.[6]

Indian influences in Mauritian cuisine / Indo-Mauritian cuisine

Following the abolition of slavery, Indian workers who migrated to Mauritius during the 19th century brought their cuisine with them.[6] Those indentured labourers came from different parts of India, each with their own culinary tradition, depending on the region.[6] Traces of both northern and southern Indian cuisine can be found in Mauritius.[5] As they are the majority population in Mauritius, they are largely contributed for making rice the staple dish.[1] Dholl-puri and roti which are Indian-origins delicacies have become a common popular form of food for all Mauritians regardless of ethnicities.[6]

Indo-Mauritian cuisine used common ingredients, such as dals (i.e. yellow-split peas), vegetables, beans, and pickles to accompany the dishes. It also uses extensive amount of spices; common spices include: saffron, cinnamon, cardamon, and cloves.[6]

Indian-Mauritian dishes, condiments, and desserts include:

List of Indo-Mauritian food
Type of Food List of Food
Yellow-split peas based
  • Dholl puri[5] - flat-pancake looking dish which is cooked and stuffed with yellow split peas, which is served with tomato sauce and pickles,[3]
Flour-based
Rice-based
  • Byriani (also known as briani or brié)[9] - a popular street food.[3] It is of Mughal origins and is typically prepared by the Muslims community in Mauritius.[6]
Side dish
  • Curry (called "carri") - The Indian migrants and their descendants had a big influences on Mauritian curries.[2] It also includes the "Sept-caris" (Thali), which is traditionally served during Indian weddings in Mauritius.[9]
  • Salted fish rougaille,[5]
Pickles
  • Vegetables archard- made of shredded cabbage, carrots, beans and cauliflowers which are cooked with garlic and onions.[3]
Snacks
  • Ghantia
  • Gâteau piments (lit. "chilli cakes") - a variant of Indian vadai.[5][4]
  • Gato brinzel - egg plant cakes.[1]
  • Poutou[9] - not to be confused with the Sino-Mauritians "putou chinois" or "poutou rouge" (i.e. fa gao).
  • Samosa - usually stuffed with pea and potato and flavoured with spices,[4]
Sweets
Condiments
  • Chutney (called "satini"), including chilli-coconut chutney,[3][5]

Mauritian Creole cuisine

The creole cuisine is eaten by every Mauritian and has its influences from African, Indian, and French cuisine.[11] Mauritian Creole dishes typically involves the consumption of seafood, fresh vegetables, pulses, beans, and corn.[1]

Creole cuisine in Mauritian include dishes and condiments such as:

List of Mauritian Creole cuisine
Type of Food Name of Food Description
Rougaille Creole rougaille It is a spicy tomato sauce with meat or fish, which shows African heritage of the dish.[3]
Plain rougaille It is a plain tomato rougaille which can be served as side dish.[11]
Vindaye Vindaye A deep fried fish coated with ground mixture of turmeric, mustard seeds, ginger and chillies.[11] Octopus can also be used instead of fish; the octopus is blanched instead of fried.[11]
Dessert Poudine Mais (lit. "Corn pudding") It is a well-known dessert of the Mauritian Creole community.[1]

Development of food and drink industry

Development of Rum Industry

Rum from Mauritius
Rum from Mauritius

During the French and English administration, sugar production was fully exploited, considerably contributing to the economic development of the island.[citation needed]

François Mahé de Labourdonnais was the first person to support the development of rum industry in Mauritius.[17] When Mauritius became a British colony, the plantation economy was mainly sugar cane.[17] It was Dr. Pierre Charles François Harel who in 1850s initially proposed the concept of local distillation of rum in Mauritius.[17] Mauritius today houses four distilleries (Grays, Medine, Chamarel and St Aubin) and is in the process of opening an additional three.[citation needed]

Development of tea industry

Tea plant was introduced in Mauritius in 1760 by a French priest, Father Galloys. In 1770, Pierre Poivre planted tea plants on large scale. However, it was only in the 19th century under British rule that commercial tea cultivation was encouraged by Robert Farquhar, the Governor of Mauritius. Robert Farquhar had a tea garden at Le Reduit; however when he left Mauritius, no one was interested in his project. Sir John Pope Hennessy, the 15th Governor of Mauritius, later revived local interest in tea cultivation and a tea plantation at Nouvelle France and at Chamarel.[15]

List of prominent Mauritian Cuisine chefs

Gallery

See also

References

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  18. ^ a b "Mauritius History of Rum | Aramerx". Retrieved 2021-04-18.
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