Mauritian Street Food


Mauritius is a crazy, beautiful, diverse, amazing place before you even get to the food - Which just happens to be fantastic too.

It's a former French Colony (the first language is a colloquial French referred to as Creole locally) that has a completely unique cuisine which is an unusual mix of Indian, Chinese and French - there's hints of New Orleans style Creole but with Indian and Chinese elements too. Fish curries and stews, fantastic Indian and Chinese derived street food and main dishes, spicy Mauritian tomato and ginger sauces, and 'piment' (chilli) served with every meal.

People have got this image of Mauritius as a honeymoon destination, and I can see why, it's stunning - Great beaches and a wonderful tropical climate. But those that stay in their hotel and don't explore the island are missing a trick. There's so much good stuff out there to find - live a little for Gods sake! Rent a car (about £15-£20 a day) and get into the less touristy places to find some great food. The Port Louis indoor market is also well worth a visit, and has a specific hall dedicated to local street food. Just look for the busiest stalls, and order what everyone else is having, and you won't go far wrong.

I ate some great food in restaurants and at family meals (my girlfriend has family out there) - things such as sizzling black bean beef with ginger and seaweed, tender, spicy Cari Ourite (Octopus curry), and Poisson Vindaye (a slightly pickled tasting spicy fish dish with mustard seeds) were amongst my favorites and are pretty typical of Mauritian Cuisine. But it's the street food that I want to talk about most because some of it is really unusual and unique, and all of it is exciting, tasty, and consistently great. It's also readily available all over the island and really cheap - I'm talking under a pound for a filling and tasty lunch in some cases.

Here are some of my favourites:

Gateaux Piment

These are my favorite street snack, and are something you'd have between meals rather than as a lunch - although they're nice crammed into a bread roll with a little extra piment sauce (pronounced pee'maa) as well if you want something a little more substantial.

The name translates literally as ‘Chilli Cake’ but theseare actually really mild, with only a hint of fresh chilli. They're essentially deep fried balls of ground up lentil with spring onion, fresh coriander, spices and a little chilli. They come out crisp and golden on the outside but with a rough, open texture on the inside which reminds me a little bit of onion Bhaji batter, but rougher and with a wholesome lentil flavour.

They're available on pretty much every street corner or market place in Mauritius and are cheaper than chips. A bag of 10 will set you back about 20 Mauritian Rupees (about 50p).

Mine Frit Poulet Oeuf

Mine Frit (pronounced Min Free) is essentially fried noodles, which usually come with vegetables or meat. My favorite is with chicken and egg, alongside the obligatory spring onions, carrot, spices and other such lovely stuff. It doesn't taste quite like the fried noodles you'd get from a Chinese, or Japanese restaurant, it's something different. How it's different I can't quite put my finger on, all I know is it's delicious.

As with nearly everything in Mauritius, even sliced Pineapple, you'll be asked whether you want this with piment or not - Generally it'll be in the form of a thick green homemade chilli sauce served on the side, so my advice would be to get it 'avec piment' and give it a try, if you don't like it then just don't dip into it.

Expect to pay between 50 and 90 rupees (£1-£2), the portions are always generous and this will make a filling lunch or cheap evening meal.

Alouda

Ok so this a drink not a food, but it's so unusual and tasty it deserves a quick mention. It’s a sort of milkshake made with really cold iced milk, crushed ice, and vanilla and almond essence, plus...

What makes Alouda so unique though are the tiny jelly balls floating around in the milk, they taste great but look a little like frogspawn! Don’t worry though, these strange looking little blobs are actually Basil Seeds (from Thai or Sweet Basil) which expand and become soft and jellylike when soaked in water.

They taste sweet and soft and are the quintessential ingredient in Alouda. It’s creamy, cold, refreshing and sweet with vanilla and almond – delicious.

Port Louis market is your best bet for finding Alouda.

Dholl Puri
Lentils, tomato based chilli salsa and some other bits and pieces I couldn't work out are deftly spooned into super thin, slightly powdery pancakes (the pile on the left) that have a really nice savoury corn flavour. This is rolled up and wrapped in paper then passed over. Again you can request these 'avec piment' or 'sans piment' depending on if you're a chilli fan or not but even the spicy ones won’t blow you’re head off.

Two will set you back a whopping 10 rupees (about 25p) and they are actually quite filling, and utterly delicious. If you're visiting the Port Louis market then head for the busiest stall selling these and you can't go wrong.

Roti Chaud

These are are a more substantial flat bread style pancake thats closer to a chapatti than the thinner type Dholl Puri is served in. They're on the right in the picture above and rolled up in the picture to the left.

Unlike Dholl Puri, Roti Chaud can come with meat, fish or vegetable fillings along with some other tasty sauces and dhall thrown in for good measure. I like the fish Roti's, and have grabbed a couple from the most run down shacks up and down the country and lived to tell the tale. Its all good, so get out there and try it.


Boulette

Boulette is probably my favorite thing to eat in Mauritius. It's definitely on the Chinese side of the Mauritian culinary scale but like all Mauritian dishes has a Creole name. Boulette are a kind of steamed dumpling made with fish, pork, prawn, or beef, a bit like Dim Sum but served in a flavorsome broth (bouillon) usually made with proper chicken or fish stock and a flourish of accompaniments usually including spring onions, a sweet, spicy finishing sauce, and (if you want it) even more piment!

Each type of boulette has a very distinct
flavour, my reccomendation being the dark brown beef and ginger variety, but they're all worth a try. The picture below shows a few of the different varieties.

A
bowl of 10 in a bath of tasty broth is a really filling meal, and along with a bottle of coke will set you back under £2.












If you want to read more about Mauritian Cuisine and Street Food then this website is pretty good, although the photos aren’t great.
http://ile-maurice.tripod.com/index.html

9 comments:

  1. That's just made me seriously hungry! I love street food.

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  2. I lived in Mauritius for two years as a child, didn't get to try much street food other than lychees though. Would love to go back.

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  3. Very interesting cuisine. Mauritius must have been a well travelled stop off in the Indian Ocean between Africa and India. A melting pot of gastronomic influences it sounds! And cheap to boot!

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  4. It's definately a mix of other cuisines but they've merged and developed over hundreds of years, and dishes like the boulette above are unique to the Island.

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  5. very good, easy to make and fast! I just felt it lacked a hint of sweetness so I added a tsp of brown suger. an i wanna sharing with u my Mauritian Fish Curry

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  6. Born in Mauritius. Have to say that it is the food I miss the most. Trying to replicate these street food here in Australia is simply not the same. I would go back not to see relatives but to PIG OUT!! xMO

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  7. Maybe, since you know people there you ended up paying less. Me and wife (Indian and Chinese living in Dubai) both found the food to be over-priced, over-hyped and tasteless. Understand it is an Island and a tourist destination so over-pricing is fair. Guess, we were just unlucky to find the wrong places to eat.

    Would highly recommed a trip to Mumbai and Beijing to try out the original versions of these delicacies. Ask for Bhajia, Faluda and Paratha in Mumbai and ask for Niu rou La mian in Beijing.

    All the best.

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  8. In response to the last comment: How ironic someone living in dubai complaining about food that cost £3-4. If you want original versions of your food, simply don't travel because it goes against understanding culinary diversity and evolution across different cultures around the world.

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  9. stay in Dubai idiot. Let the Arabs take your a....

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