Learning Mauritian Cuisine.

Mauritian cuisine is a wonderful melting pot of the all the culinary traditions brought here by the people that make Mauritius the ‘rainbow island’. This culinary traditions of the island have become much better known in the UK since Shelina Permalloo won MasterChef in 2012. Check out her excellent recipe book where she has distilled her love of the local cuisine into ‘Shelina, Sunshine on a plate’. It gives you the recipes but also beautiful photos of the dishes, the local ingredients, markets and scenery – so if you can’t make it over for a cooking class, this is the next best thing.

Shelina's Sunshine on a plate
Shelina’s Sunshine on a plate

In the hope of improving her cooking skills, Bordeaux Blonde went to Mauritian cooking school with Chef Govinden at the Awali Hotel in Bel Ombre. Starting with a very classic local dish of chicken and prawn curry (almost every restaurant on the island has a version of this dish), we used local products including garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes, aniseed, fenugreek, turmeric root, curry leaves, coriander and coconut, to create an aromatic rather than spicy curry. I prefer my curry aromatic and it makes the wine choice easier (wine and heat don’t always mix), but locals do like their spice, so there is a side of ‘puree de piments’ on every table here!

Chef Govinden teaches at the Awali Hotel
Chef Govinden teaches at the Awali Hotel

Unsurprisingly, Mauritius is also a favoured destination for international chefs to come and showcase their talents. This week it was the turn of Patrick Dang to visit The Telfair Hotel. Trained in his home town of Sydney, Australia, Patrick has worked all over the world from Asia through to North & Latin America and Europe and is about to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong. He prefers the term ‘globally inspired’ rather than fusion for his style of cuisine – perfect for Mauritius! He tried to impart some of his skills to the locals with a beach cooking class. His take on a Asian BBQ was a rib eye steak in a garlic/soy/ginger sauce accompanied by Asian Coleslaw.

Chef Patrick shows how to BBQ on the beach
Chef Patrick shows how to BBQ on the beach

The coleslaw was not a million miles from the Mauritian coleslaw in Shelina’s book (one of my favourites) and a key ingredient in the rib eye sauce was the lovely dark raw sugar they produce on the island. I can recommend learning to cook Mauritian style with the waves of the Indian ocean  lapping your ankles – quite an experience!


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