Before arriving in Mauritius, I really didn’t know much about the island, or it’s cuisine. I had made some assumptions (many of them wrong) but I was pleasantly surprised at the varied of foods to eat in Mauritius.
Mauritius is a melting pot, with a unique combination of African, Indian, Chinese, French, and British influence. The Brits probably have the least direct influence on the cuisine, although tea is very popular. This melting pot influence means you can eat curry, dim sum, and a Chateaubriand all in one day. Or, some dishes combine the influence from these varied cuisines into one dish, a Creole inspired dish.
We ate some of these dishes on a great Mauritian food tour, but others we were able to eat at our hotel, the Heritage Le Telfair, as well. It was a perfect mix of what to eat in Mauritius, from street food to luxury.
Mauritian curry is just different enough from Indian curries to make it unique. Most common are fish curries, or chicken and prawn curries, spiced with cumin, coriander seeds, cardamom, ginger, and about a dozen other ingredients.
The curries are sometimes spicy, but they seem to tone it down a bit for the tourists. I always asked for extra chilies and most times they provided me a unique chili paste. The Heritage Le Telfair made their chili paste in house, spiced with chilies, citrus, and vinegar. It was amazing, and white. I am used to seeing red or green chili paste. We learned to cook our own Mauritian Curry during a cooking class at the Heritage Le Telfair, which was tasty!
I am not generally a fan of smoked fish. I can handle smoked meats, but smoked fish is a little different. I didn’t want to say so to the Mauritians we met, though, because I felt my lack of interest in one of their national dishes, smoked marlin, would be seen as rude. It was offered at each breakfast at the Heritage Le Telfair, and graced many of their menus.
That all said, during our Mauritian cooking class, the starter we made was, wait for it . . . smoked marlin. And, well, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The portion was large, and there was no way I could get it all down, but I finished about half. It was actually fairly enjoyable. I assume that for travelers who love smoked fish they would love it. But, even for those who avoid smoked fish, I would recommend smoked marlin as a must eat in Mauritius. You have to try it at least one.
Heart of Palm Salads
This is another seemingly national dish of Mauritius, heart of palm. They serve it as a salad on its own, but it also graces many dishes as a garnish or side item. They would even top a curry with heart of palm.
The heart of palm was different than the ones I ate as a kid, when my mom would find them in jars or cans. In Mauritius, the heart of palm is so fresh, and crisp. We learned to make this as well during our Mauritian cooking class, and it topped the smoked marlin. Fabulous.
Now, we are really getting into my wheel house, the Indian inspired cuisine. A few of the street foods to eat in Mauritius involve dishes that reminded me of street food we ate in India, or even some of the Indian cuisine we’ve eaten in Malaysia.
The first we tried was dholl puri, which we tried during a street food display at Heritage Le Telfair, as well as during our Taste Buddies Mauritius food tour. It’s a thick pancake-like bread, known as puri, and then spread with dholl, which Indian food lovers might recognize as “dahl,” which is generally a lentil. In Mauritius, the dholl is a ground yellow pea spread, that is topped with various chutneys and pickled vegetables. It’s the most common street food in Mauritius, and in particular, in the capital of Port Louis.
Now, even more than the dholl puri, I loved the farata, which reminded me a little of roti canai in Malaysia. It’s influenced by Indian paratha, a thick fried bread. The farata is also a very popular street food, but instead of including a smear of yellow pea paste, it is filled with various curries and chutneys. This made it a little more moist than dholl puri. I could eat Mauritian farata all day long!
There were two things I was hoping to eat in Mauritius, curry and seafood. I had my curries covered, and I was thrilled to have giant grilled prawns at Le Palmier, the beach front restaurant at the Heritage Le Telfair. It was exactly what I hoped for, where each perfectly prepared prawn was like eating my own little lobster. And, with the view over the sea from Le Palmier, it was a meal that just screamed Mauritius!
We learned while traveling in the Maldives that tuna is ubiquitous. It’s in almost ever local Maldivian dish. And, it seemed similar in Mauritius. Although it’s possible to find tuna curries in Mauritius, just like in the Maldives, what I enjoyed was all of was the fresh tuna as it was prepared at Heritage Resorts. At their Asian-fusion restaurant, Gin-Ja, I ate amazing tuna tartare. And, I ate a fresh, citrusy tuna carpaccio (twice) at Le Palmier. Of course, it was topped with heart of palm, making it feel a lot more local.
It should be no surprise that coconuts are freely available on the island of Mauritius. Although not as sweet as the coconuts in Thailand, or even Bali, they make the most of them. I loved that each morning at the buffet breakfast at Annabella’s, they offered a fresh fruit salad covered with shredded coconut meat. I ate a fairly large plate each day. And, at the Coco Bar, right on the beach at Heritage Awali. Heritage Awali is located next door to our resort, and their Coco Bar offered fresh coconut cocktails at sunset. It was the prefect way to end the day.
We ate well during our week in Mauritius. And, there are loads more foods to eat in Mauritius, but these stood out. We also ate a good amount of French inspired cuisine at Heritage Resorts, and more different kinds of street food on our food tour in Port Louis. But, tracking down these must eat Mauritius dishes is a good place to start.
We were hosted by Heritage Resorts during our holiday in Mauritius, but all tasty yummy sounds about what there is to eat in Mauritius are, as always, my own.
Garden View Suites at Heritage Le Telfair start around €115 per person, per night. They also offer half board and all-inclusive style packages.