The cuisine of Rodrigues is a mixture of cuisines. When dining you can feel the influences of the Créole, European, Chinese and Indian culinary traditions, all whilst being delighted by the vast selection of fresh seafood.
Rodrigues is a delightful little island 560 km east of Mauritius in the middle of the Indian Ocean, measuring only 18 km in length and 8 km wide. The island, named after the Portuguese explorer Diogo Rodrigues, is the smallest of the Mascarene Islands and a dependency of Mauritius. Rodrigues Island is surrounded by coral reefs offering beautiful scenery, world-class diving and snorkeling.
Records report that Dutch settlers came to the island in the 17th century with the intention of setting up a farming colony of Protestant refugees. The people living in Rodrigues started eating local livestock such as birds, fish, seafood, turtles and tortoises for survival. Only in the 18th century the French and their African slaves started organizing agriculture and cattle breeding.
Unique dining experiences
A visit to Rodrigues offers some unique dining experiences. This is definitely one of the highlights of any visit to Rodrigues.
The cuisine of Rodrigues is a mixture of cuisines. When dining you can feel the influences of the Créole, European, Chinese and Indian culinary traditions, all whilst being delighted by the vast selection of fresh seafood. The secret of the Rodriguan cuisine lies in the freshness of the ingredients, the local flavors & aromas, and the expertise of well-preserved culinary traditions, all of which were learnt from past generations.
In Rodrigues, you will find many plants that are unique to the island and add a definite zing and aroma to the food. Aloe Vera, latanier & casuarinas palms, vetiver and lemon are common ingredients used in the local cuisine. Another plant used is the ‘Vielle-Fille’, a small shrub with pink flowers that are infused to make a drink.
Local dishes and "Must Eat" Rodriguan Specialties
A typical Rodrigues buffet usually includes a biryani, Chinese pork, chicken curry, Créole roast beef, free-range fowls, local ham, and French-style vegetables. Common dishes include ‘rougaille’, a Creole dish of tomatoes, garlic & onions with meat or fish. Dishes with octopus are also very common on the island, as octopus fishing is rather common among the locals; octopus stews, rougailles and even salads can easily be found.
The must eat specialties are the octopus curry, chicken curry, honey glazed pork, cono-cono salad, mussel gratin, corn-fed chicken salad with ginger, sautéed crab, steamed fish, and smoked ham. It is also worth trying the delicious soup of fresh shellfish gathered from the beach, seasoned with coriander.
You can also see the strong influence of Indian cuisine over Rodriguan dishes, as boiled rice is eaten with almost all dishes. Meals are also sometimes accompanied by flatbreads made from yellow split-peas, known as dholl puri. There is an extensive use of spices such as cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron as well curry leaves, basil and thyme.
‘Piments limon’, is a very specific condiment to Rodrigues, where small pickled green lemons are ground and mixed with chilies.
As for sweet dishes, these include sweet potato cakes (gateau patate), cassava cakes (gateau manioc), maize pudding and also the renowned Rodriguan Tourte. The tourte is a local pie, flavoured with cinnamon and with a tropical fruit filling of papaya, pineapple or coconut.
The local beverages include a syrupy brew of agar, milk, and flavored syrups, available almost everywhere in Rodrigues. The locally produced beer and rum are potent and cheap. Wines and European spirits are harder to find, and when found, are usually very expensive.