Mauritian Cuisine

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Cuisines of Mauritius

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Map of Mauritius- Click to enlarge

Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean, about 560 miles / 900 kilometres east of Madagascar. Mauritian cuisine is delightful, and has been described as “a paradise for the senses”. Since the first permanent settlement of the island by the French in the eighteenth century, food on Mauritius has been greatly influenced by the many ethnic groups that now call the island their home. People from Africa, China, Europe, and the Indian Sub-Continent brought ingredients and recipes, and all those sources have been drawn upon to create a truly "fusion" style of cooking. It has been said that a typical day in Mauritius starts with a Continental breakfast, continues with an Indian lunch, and ends with a Chinese dinner. First came the French in the 18th century, then people from the Indian Sub-Continent and from China followed in the 18th century, after the abolition of slavery throughout the British empire.

Preparation Methods for Mauritian Cooking

Mauritian cuisine uses elements from various cooking traditions. There are no specific or unique preparation methods for Mauritius cooking; however, we should point out that attention to detail is as important in Mauritian cuisine as in any other. For example, using the right amount of spices is essential – either to enhance flavours, or to add colour to a dish. The diversity of vegetables and cereals found in Mauritius plays a great rôle in the offerings of even the humblest Mauritian kitchen. The visual appeal of a dish is also important, as is a balance between colour and proportion.

Special Equipment for Mauritian Cooking

Ranging from cake pans, can openers, colanders, egg rings, poachers and holders, food dishers & portioners, food pans & food containers to other kitchen utensils, such as food scales, food scoops, frying baskets, & accessories, the equipment used for Mauritian cooking is diverse, and is used to great effect in order to produce the most sophisticated Mauritius dishes. You should consider insulated food carriers if you are transporting food, as well as a full set of kitchen linen and uniforms if you wish to look like a pro. Here are a few other items that will come handy when cooking Mauritian food: juicers, kitchen knives, kitchen slicers, kitchen thermometers, measuring cups & measuring spoons, miscellaneous utensils, mixing bowls, skimmers, and strainers. Essential utensils like serving spoons, spatulas, forks, turners, scrapers and tongs should also be part of your cooking "arsenal".

Mauritian Food Traditions and Festivals

Due to a high degree of ethnic diversity drawn from three continents, Mauritian food traditions are used to great effect at times of celebration. Being religious people, Mauritians celebrate their festivals with much devotion and fervour. Most of the festivals in Mauritius have religious origins, and some of them are marked as national public holidays. There are Hindu celebrations like Divali, Holi, Kavadi, and Maha Shivaratri. Divali is "the festival of light"; during it, fruit cakes are baked and shared with family, friends, and neighbours. Père Laval Day is a holiday celebrated by all Mauritians, Christians and non-Christians alike. Chinese communities celebrate the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) every February or March. During this festival, traditional Chinese dishes such as congee, Hunan chow mein, siao mai, stir-fried broccoli, and Chinese mushrooms are served. 'Aidu 'l Fitr is an Islamic holiday to mark the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

People in Mauritian Food

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Many chefs make creative use of basic ingredients and cooking methods for traditional Mauritian dishes, to create original and delicious food variations. Mauritian chefs are passionate about their traditional dishes, and enjoy presenting them to people unfamiliar with the cuisine, Whether cooking dishes that go back in time for generations or conjuring up modern offerings, Mauritian chefs take pride in what they do, and this is readily noticeable in the unforgettable taste of their cooking.

Madeleine Philippe, a Mauritian-born chef now resident in Melbourne (Australia), is passionate about Mauritian cuisine and is a pioneer in the promotion of Mauritian cuisine on the internet through the very popular "Recipes from Mauritius" web site at

Together with her husband Clancy, Madeleine has contributed to the food and drinks section of the Lonely Planet Guide to Mauritius, La Réunion, and the Seychelles. Madeleine is constantly sought for advice on Mauritian Cuisine, and regularly contributes recipes to magazines and other media.