What are typical Mauritian dishes?
Summer in Europe looms in expectation of cold, dull winter days giving way to long, dusky evenings that encourage the wearing of short-sleeved shirts and sitting in the local drinking establishment’s beer garden quaffing chilled wine or ice-cold cider.
For many others the prospect of summer invites the planning of holidays; and after a bitterly cold few months battling inclement weather and fending off sniffles and coughs, the idea of a fortnight in the sunny climes of a foreign land seems justly deserved!
At Mauritius Foods we also understand there are many with constraints, such as family, finances or time, and the dream of a break to simply soak up the sun and devour local delicacies has to remain just that . . . a dream. Sadly, we can’t influence the weather, but what we can do — with a few recipes we’ve included below — is offer up a taste of Mauritius cuisine and hope that all your hard work and sacrifice will, one day, allow you to visit the island and experience these dishes cooked in their homeland.
In a recent Telegraph article, Shelina Permalloo — whose family hail from Mauritius and who won UK MasterChef 2012 — was asked to sum up Mauritius cuisine in a dish, but rather than give one she presented three. While interesting and informative, the article did not supply actual recipes for the three dishes mentioned, so as a follow on to the piece we have provided recipes for you to enjoy based on the wonderful Ms Permalloo’s suggestions.
Chicken Birani — Mauritius recipe
Serves 7 – 8 persons
7 or 8 chicken thighs and legs separated
1 cup plain yoghurt
Birani spice – 3 tblsps
1 large tomato
2 green chilies
Cumin powder – 1 tblsp
1 onion chopped and fried
2 red onions
6 salted potatoes – cut in half
Ghee – 2 tblsps
Garlic paste – 2 tblsps
Ginger paste – 2 tblsps
2 cups of water
Cumin seeds – 3 tblsps
Cinnamon – 2
Cardamom – 4
Cloves – 4
Hot water – 5 tblsps
1/3 teaspoon powdered yellow food coloring
1 tablespoon saffron threads
1 can of green peas drained (or 1 cup of frozen peas will work fine)
Pinch of salt x 2
4 cups uncooked Basmati rice (soaked for 1 hr)
While cooking the salted potatoes until half done, add the Saffron to the hot water and after 3 minutes add the yellow food colouring. Blend the garlic, ginger, mint, coriander, tomato, fresh onions and chillies before combining the mixture in a pot with the yoghurt, 2 tablespoons of cumin seeds, 1 cinnamon, half of the fried onions, 3 cardamoms, 2 cloves, biryani spices and cumin.
Give the mixture a good stir and then add the chicken, ghee and water with saffron. Again, stir to coat the chicken and mix in the peas, onions, salt and pepper. To this, pour in an amount of water that does not cover the ingredients, usually 1 cup is enough.
Cook the basmati rice for half the recommended time and then add half the quantity to the meat inside the pot with a few peas and onions. Top the rice with the remaining rice, onions and peas in addition to the coloured water and any ghee that is left. Cover the pot and cook over a medium heat for half an hour or until the water has evaporated. Your Mauritian birani is ready to serve.
I will be at the Chester Food and Drink Festival this weekend at Chester racecourse if you would like to come and sample some of our Dodo Chilli Sauce?
Adding a touch of spice can turn ordinary into extraordinary
Our lives are utterly dependant on food, and while we are encouraged to be more health conscious or even adventurous in our food choices, it’s difficult to escape the desire for a meal that’s both simple and comforting — our ‘go to recipes,’ for want of a better expression.
Possibly, these desires for certain recipes are throwbacks to meals our parents provided for us and ones that generally bring back fond memories of sitting around the table devouring decent, home-cooked deliciousness!
These are also some of the first dishes that most of us would have learned to prepare by ourselves, adding another generation to time honoured traditions handed down from mother to daughter and father to son. Call me nostalgic, but a wonderful feeling of pride washed over me the first time my child took an interest in a dish I was preparing and I had the opportunity to say, “Your grandmother would always tell me to add Spring onions to rice, noodle or mashed potatoes.” Other pearls of wisdom would follow ensuring our family’s simple kitchen craft will continue.
The type of family-favourites, of course, depends on where you are in the world. Pull up a chair at a dinner table in the UK during the week and you could well be delving into a serving of pork sausages, mixed vegetables and mash topped with gravy. Anywhere in Asia, a plate of steamed fish with rice and vegetables may be on offer, while in the US your hosts might present you with a healthy portion of meatloaf. Granted, the dishes mentioned above are plain heaven to the kids returning home after a day at school or after six-months in a new job away from home, but you’d have to agree they also can become bland.
Here at Mauritius Foods, we considered the dilemma of health consciousness and adventure versus time management and comfort eating. Fortunately, for all concerned the answer is in a jar of Dodo Chilli Sauce, we reckon!
After exhaustive research and hours of experimenting — euphemisms for time spent test-tasting yummy food — we came up with a few ideas to boost the bland and maybe even add to your family’s cooking customs!
Delicious Dodo Salmon
Divine Dodo Chicken Burgers
I will be at the Chester Food and Drink Festival next weekend at Chester racecourse if you would like to come and sample some Dodo Chilli Sauce for yourself?