Mauritian cuisine is usually referred to as Creol cuisine, as it’s a mix of all the different cultures on the island - Indo-Mauritians with spicy curries, the Muslim community with biryanis, Sino-Mauritians with noodles & dumplings and French with garlic & herbs.
The island’s food comes from all backgrounds around the world. What makes Mauritian food so special is the mix of all these flavours fusing into a unique feast for your palate. Think about it like this, the best food from India, China, France, Africa- bits and pieces from all these cuisines mixed together to make our very special Mauritian food.
One thing that is present in almost all our recipes are spices. Perhaps because most Mauritians are from Indian backgrounds, that’s why it’s so dominant. It’s not unusual to find herbs like thyme and coriander in every Mauritian household. A savoury condiment made with one of the herbs, coriander chutney, usually serves as accompaniment for fried snacks.
With every meal, chilli is usually served on the side. If you are not used to eating hot and spicy food, you can choose not to have it but it normally adds an extra kick to the taste. It’s difficult to explain, but once you try it you will know. When buying street food, chilli will usually be added but the vendor will ask if you would like your meal with or without chili.
Chilli Tips for the Starters
If you are in Mauritius for a while, you might have noticed this already… Mauritians love eating chili with every meal. It will take some time to adapt to this new taste if you are not used to it but once you do, it’ll be hard to have a meal without chili. It can be eaten in every form; raw, pickled, in a paste, mixed with other spices. In this guide, you will learn how to enjoy Mauritian food without letting chili stop you.
Have you ever eaten something that you felt like your mouth was on fire? This can happen when you eat chilli. When it does, don’t panic. We have a few tips to help you in case of a chilli emergency :
If you accidentally chewed on a chilli and your mouth is on fire (sometimes accompanied with tears coming out of your eyes, that you have no control over), do not drink water, it’ll only make matters worse. Have a piece of bread or sugar or even drink a glass of milk, whichever is readily available.
The hottest part of a chilli is not the skin but the pips. If you can remove the pips before eating, it’ll help reduce the spiciness.
Red chillies are hotter than green ones. If you are not used to chilli and wish to try, better start with green ones. Mauritians in general usually avoid red chilies as they are way too hot but you can still find red chilli pastes around.
The smaller ones are the hottest. These are referred to as ‘piment petard’ by the locals. Petard means firecrackers. It really feels like it’s exploding in your mouth when you eat them.
Getting Used to Spicy Food
You will need to go easy with the spices if you are not used to it. Since you have a variety of Mauritian dishes, you can try them all and see what suits your stomach best. Let’s say you are having Indian food on Monday, you can have Chinese food for the next two days. Chinese food is usually not as hot. It’s either boiled, fried and chilli is only added at will.
Trying out different dishes will give your body time to adapt to the spices. Eating too much spicy food every day can give you an upset tummy that you might associate to food poisoning when it's actually not. Avoid spicy, hot dishes if you are having any tummy issues.
Fresh Food at the Bazaar
If you would like to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, you need to go to the ‘bazaar’. Markets are referred to as bazaar in Mauritius. You will also come across many street vendors selling fresh veggies unlike supermarkets where you will get less variety and mostly processed and imported foods.
Tip: To get the best picks from the bazaar, it is best to go early in the morning.
Fish is very present in Mauritian cuisine as the country is surrounded by the ocean.
Fishermen will sell the catch of the day on fish stalls alongside the beach. You need to keep an eye for fish stalls as they are not present all day long, it’s usually in the afternoons. If you are not too close to the beach, fish is also sold at every market around the island.
Freshly caught fish has a different taste, it’s delicious even if it is just grilled with a slice of lemon. You can also try the local fish vindaye, very easy and full of flavour.
Mauritian Food Habits
White rice is what Mauritian eat the most. We have bread for breakfast (it’s not uncommon for some to have rice) and rice for both lunch & dinner. Dinner is the biggest meal of the day. You might think it should be the other way around, but this is what we are accustomed to. Roti (an Indian flat bread) is also very common among the Mauritians of Indian background but rice still remains the main dish.
A traditional Mauritian plate will be served with more than one curry, along with a pickle or chilli. If you are vegetarian, it won’t be difficult to find food around the island as most of the Hindus are vegetarian. Eating Halal is not a problem either as the country also takes care of the Muslim community.
When you see Mauritians having dinner in a restaurant, it’s probable they are celebrating something, either an anniversary or a birthday. Mauritians don’t really have the habit of eating out. It’s reserved for celebrations as the price of food in restaurants are high compared to the salary earned in average households.
Mauritians like fast food chains like KFC and McDonald’s. You will find these places crowded all week long and very popular with the younger generations.
Street food is very common and delicious. For a few rupees you can try all the different Mauritian street food. A few things you should not miss are:
Deep fried indian type snacks (gato piment, baja, dupain frire)
Fruit salad served with chilli
Food will be the last of your worries for your holiday in Mauritius. You will find delicious food at almost every street corner. And even if you are feeling homesick, you can still find a restaurant specialising in food from your country. Have a look at our restaurant directory and pick where you will have your next food tasting experience.