Alongside other famous Sino-Mauritian dishes is the Bol Renversé. In English this translates to ‘Upside Down Bowl’, though it is also known as Magic Bowl and easily found in most local restaurants & eateries.
Bol Renversé is a rice-based dish, served with a stir-fry sauce, similar to chop suey. The thick sauce is made with soy sauce, oyster sauce and sautéed with a variety of vegetables, usually Bok Choi (Chinese cabbage), mushrooms and carrots. Chicken, shrimp, or thin strips of meat is then added to the chop suey, though chicken is the standard choice and finally an egg over easy tops the dish.
What makes this dish so noteworthy is the plating, where the ingredients are layered into a bowl, the egg first, followed by the chop suey base and the cooked rice. The bowl is then flipped over onto a plate and presented as an ‘upside down bowl’.
Boulettes, also known as the Mauritian Dim Sum originates from the Cantonese inhabitants of Mauritius.
The Mauritian variation of dumplings include "saw mai", "niuk yan" (meat balls), "en pow niuk" (steamed fish fingers) and "teo kon" (tofu). These steamed dumplings are usually made from fish, minced meat, prawns, calamari and chayote, depending on the variety.
The dumplings can be served on its own with chilli or in a clear broth seasoned with stock and garnished with chives. Though boulette can be found in most places around the island, Grand Bay is probably the best place to have it. Boulette makes for a perfect dish on rainy days or during the Mauritian winters where it can really help warm you up.
Biryani is a favorite of nearly every Mauritian and is one of the most famous dishes on the island. Though originally from the Indo-Islamic community in Mauritius, this dish has been modified to suit the Mauritian taste buds, with a flavoursome blend of spices.
Mauritian Briyani is made with basmati rice, lots of herbs and spices for the flavour including cloves, crushed cardamom pods, cinnamon, star anise, saffron and cumin. Potatoes and beef, chicken or seafood is then added in and it is slow cooked, usually in a steel pot called a ‘deg’.
You will always see this delicious menu served especially when there are festivals like Eid Ul Fitr in Mauritius or during special occasions such as weddings and religious festivals. Otherwise, Port Louis and almost every major town in Mauritius has Briyani vendors, where you can grab a plateful.
Dholl Puri and Roti are definitely the favourite street foods of Mauritians. Both are Indian styled flatbreads, which can be found anywhere at street stalls and even some restaurants. A long line up of people on the street usually indicates a vendor, where you will be able to pick your fillings and enjoy a very cheap, filling meal.
These were introduced by the indentured labourers from Bihar, over a century ago. The ingredients used, especially for the dholl puri is what makes it uniquely Mauritian.
Dholl Puri is a flatbread stuffed with yellow split peas whereas Roti is simply a pancake-like flatbread. Both are toasted on a griddle, and are universal recipes that can be accompanied with anything. In Mauritius they are usually filled with butter bean curry (Gros Pois), a tomato based sauce (Rougaille), sautéed spinach and accompanied with a spicy coriander chutney or pickles.
Aside from Mauritian meals, no other snack pays tribute to Mauritius than the Gateau Piment. Found at almost every food stall, this snack is immensely popular among the locals.
Alternatively called Gateau Dhal, the name Gateau Piment translated directly from French is Chilli Cake, though it often not as spicy as it sounds. The snack is made from yellow split peas (dhal) and seasoned with spring onion and sliced green chillies. The chillies can be omitted for a milder flavour.
The mixture then shaped into small balls and deep friend until golden brown. Most Mauritians start their morning with a hot handful of these snacks, accompanied with bread and butter, though it can also be enjoyed for lunch or as an afternoon snack.
Fried Noodles are not just a common dish throughout oriental Asia, but in Mauritius as well. The name Mine Frite is a combination of the Cantonese/Hakka word for noodles- Mein and the French word for fried- Frite. Locally known as Mine Frite, this dish is basically fried noodles cooked in a Mauritian style.
Fresh noodles or egg noodles are tossed in a heated wok with cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables along with chicken, shrimp and sometimes thin strips of meat. The ingredients are seasoned with dark soy sauce, fish sauce, salt and pepper. It is topped off with strips of fried egg and accompanied with garlic sauce and chilli paste for those who like it spicy.
It is a relatively easy and quick dish to make, but for those who don’t want the hassle, this dish is readily available everywhere on the island, from hotels, restaurants and street stalls.
Try out the Mine Frite (Fried Noodles) recipe here: Fried Noodles
7. Riz Frite
Fried rice is a popular street food around the world, with Mauritius being no exception. This dish is prepared in a similar style to the Mauritian Mine Frite and needs no introduction to Mauritians since it is so common.
Unlike traditional Cantonese styled fried rice, Mauritian fried rice is cooked in a creole style without a thick gravy or sauce poured in. Ingredients are simply tossed into a wok and mixed together with soy sauce, fish sauce, chicken, shrimp and egg. This too is served with garlic sauce and chilli paste for an added kick of flavour.
This is a popular meal within households, especially when there is leftover rice, since it is quick and easy to make. Riz Frite can also be found at almost all restaurants and eateries nationwide.
Though Sept Cari (7 curries) is culturally linked to specific events and occasions, it doesn’t stop it from being a popular dish amongst all ethnicities on the island. This vegetarian meal is usually served at Hindu weddings or events, though you can find it offered at restaurants.
Seven or more vegetable curries are accompanied with “ti puri”, a fried flatbread on a banana leaf. The traditional seven curries usually consist of butter bean curry, spinach, rougaille, mashed pumpkin, chouchou (sautéed chayote) and banana curry, though you may also find other specialities such as jackfruit curry and ‘gato piment’ curry.
Depending on the specific community, you may have different condiments and dishes served, for example in the Tamil community, rice is served instead of fried flatbreads, along with a different variety of curries including a spicy soup, rasson and a sweet serving of sago pudding with papadum.
Nothing can be more Mauritian, then the classic Rougaille dish. This typically Creole dish, is so versatile it can accompany almost anything.
Rougaille is essentially a tomato-based sauce- tomatoes, onions, garlic and chillies are braised into a rich sauce with herbs like thyme and coriander. This sauce can be served plain or other fresh produce can be added to it, such as meat, chicken, seafood including and the popular Mauritian favourite, salted fish (poisson salé). Vegetables and other unique ingredients can be added in as well, such as canned sardines, sausages and corned beef/mutton.
You will often find rougaille used as one of the fillings for roti or as an accompaniment with rice or topping.
Originating from India, the Mauritian Vindaye is a somewhat modified version of the Indian Vindaloo. Though it does not use the exact mix of spices, it remains true to the Indian version by being rather spicy. It is a “dry-curry” often cooked with thick fish chunks or octopus, though meat, chicken and vegetables can be substituted instead.
Thick slices of fish are deep-fried before being coated with a ground mixture of turmeric, mustard seeds, ginger and chillies. Whole shallots and cloves of garlic are also added together with some vinegar. It is best paired with bread, roti or dhal puri, though it can also be enjoyed with rice or as a “gajak”- an appetizer or snack.
Spices used to be crushed manually on a “roche cari” but nowadays are readily available in packs.