Introduction to Mauritius & Mauritian Cuisine

Written by Neeraj Shresta


Mauritius Cuisine History

Mauritius, an island of volcanic origin sheltered by barriers of coral reefs forming natural, safe, crystal clear lagoons, has long been a dream destination.

mauritius island

Known to the Arabs as early as the 10th century. Mauritius was officially explored by the Portuguese in the 16th century and subsequently settled by the Dutch in the 17th century. During this time the Dutch introduced to Mauritius the sugar-canes, domestic animals and slavery. Mauritius was later occupied by the French (1715-1810) and in 1810 the British captured the island. In 1835 the British abolished slavery which led to the importation of indentured workers from       India to work on the sugar cane plantations.

This unique history, enriched by variety of cultures, created one of the best fusion cuisines in the world today. The Mauritian cuisine is a unique mix of French, British, Indian, Chinese and Creole culinary and cooking traditions.

Mauritius cuisine today

Mauritius is a paradise for the palate and the senses, where the ethnic diversity of the local people is reflected in its cuisine. It is a splendid place to experience real gourmet food.

The cuisine of Mauritius, with its variety of flavors and aromas is indeed a gastronomic delight. The products used in the Mauritian cuisine are both local and imported. The meats usually come from Australia, the venison is local, and the fish and seafood are usually caught locally, but may also come from the surrounding islands (such as Seychelles).

mauritius foodThe cuisine of Mauritius is a testament to the influences of the culinary traditions of France, Africa, Mughlai, India and China which are the best-known and appreciated cuisines in the world, – the people of Mauritius have incorporated these influences with their local fruits, vegetables, spices and other ingredients and all those sources have been drawn upon to create a fusion style of cooking.

It is said that a typical day in Mauritius starts with a Continental breakfast, continues with a Chinese lunch, and ends with an Indian dinner along with some French wine. It is clear that the Mauritian cuisine today, reflects the cultural richness of the Mauritian society.

The most basic and common ingredients used in Mauritian recipes are the tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and chilies, curries and rougailles (rougailles are made from the blends of crushed spices and are served with a number of "achards" - pickles, dals, rice or lentils from an Indian origin).
Local spices constitute a major part of Mauritian cuisine. The extensive use of spices such as saffron, curry, garam masala, cinnamon, cardamom, chilies and cloves together with local fruits such as papaya, passion fruit, guava, mango, lychee, banana, pineapple and coconut provides a powerful, yet subtle flavor to the dish.

Whether you are traveling on a holiday trip to Mauritius or recently moved to Mauritius, you should try the Mauritian food to the fullest. The variety of cuisines available in Mauritius caters to the taste buds of a wide spectrum of food buffs. I highly recommend to give a try and to taste the local delicacies in restaurants.

The Mauritian dishes are usually served with rice, lentils and beans which are very popular with the Mauritians mauritius marketsand are included in the Mauritian everyday food. The unique mix of spices with vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and sea food gives the unique flavor to the food of Mauritius.

Be worn! Some local dishes are hot spicy. The Mauritians are known to like to spice their food with a lot of chili. The local chili is very hot – so one should first try a dish without chili before adding it!

Two very common local dishes which are found on city centers and offered by many street stalls are Dholl Puri (stuffed flatbread) and the Roti. The Roti descends from the Indian cuisine and consists mainly of a flat cake like a Crêpe filled with lentils curry and chili.

As Mauritius is surrounded by sea, the seafood lovers can celebrate on many different fish and seafood dishes typical to Mauritius. For instance, the famous "Millionaires salad" which is made by oysters, shrimps, crayfish, crabs and prawns and is served with the heart of a palm tree.

Mauritian food possibilities and its cost

Mauritian food is found everywhere in Mauritius - in the streets, in the shopping areas, in the markets and next to the beaches. On the beaches, for example, you will meet people selling pineapple in bags

The selection is vast, from very inexpensive street stands and restaurants to some very up-market restaurants. You can pay as little as 0.25 Euro for a Roti, or a lot more for fresh seafood in a top class tourists restaurant.

The small local places are mostly quite good and their prices are very reasonable and compared to eating out in Europe or the USA the food is very cheap!

Like almost everywhere else in the world today, there were some changes during the last twenty years with the arrival of some worldwide fast food chains where one can find burgers, pizzas etc.

Things to know about dining in Mauritius

  • Tipping in Mauritius - 10% tipping is common in most hotels and high end restaurants, however it is not compulsory.
  • VAT (Value Added Tax) in Mauritius - A value added tax of 15% is usually added to the prices on the menus of restaurants – be sure to check if the prices on the menu already include VAT.
  • Legal drinking age in Mauritius - 18
  • Nightlife in Mauritius - Grand Baie and Pereybere are the center of the island’s nightlife, with bars offering live music, and with many restaurants and nightclubs. Port Louis has mainly restaurants and bars. Rivière Noire is a Creole fishermen’s district where Sega dancing is especially lively on Saturday nights. Gamblers are lavishly catered for; casinos are among the island’s attractions.
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