Friday, 30 December 2016

Mauritian Tadka!!!

As my stomach growled, I dipped my finger into the green chutney kept on the table while mentally praying that the kebabs would come soon. The next moment my tongue was on fire, my mouth was a furnace and my eyes were a couple of leaky taps! That's what chili does to me. This was the work of the Devil! This was not mint chutney this was chilly paste. My sister saw my face and laughed out loud while announcing to the whole family how the baccha of the family, the food snob, the chili avoider had just rubbed a glob full very gleefully onto her sensitive taste-buds.

 This was the infamous Pima paste, a Mauritian green chili. My brother in law is a Chef in Mauritius and runs a much loved Indian restaurant in Curepipe and Quatre Bornes in Mauritius. The Istwals had just landed in his town that evening and he was hosting us in his restaurant. My introduction to Mauritius may have been fiery but by the time I left the white beaches and blue green sea, I carried with me only sweet memories.
Two weeks were spent trying out every water sport, lounging on every beach possible and checking out every highlight of the island.

While I was busy doing all that I also made it a point to try out the local delicacies to experience the local flavours. On top of my list is the Tarte Banana or the Banana pie; A buttery pie crust and caramelized banana filling.

I also enjoyed the Napolitaine.
These are shortbread biscuits with jam in between and a pink sugary glaze. Very girly and very pretty, perfect for a table spread for tea or a child birthday party. The only thing is that these dainty looking things are heavyyyyyy! Two bites and you are done. So I was partial towards the mini bite sized ones and bought some as souvenirs though they didn't survive the journey.

When you say Mauritian food most people will say Dholpuri. Maybe a corruption of the DhalPuri.

Anyway since I was constantly talking about eating it, my sister's friend and neighbour bought it one morning from the local bazaar and dropped it off for breakfast. It was super heavy as it basically is two layers of maida (refined flour) rotis stuffed with dry cooked chana dal (split gram).

Compared to the Dholpuri I found the Roti Curry a more satisfying a meal. Again a maida roti but this time rolled up and stuffed with veggies or meat of your choice with a generous dose of curry slapped over it and a Pima chili according to your tolerance level (mine as I already mentioned is extremely low).

While I am on the topic of rotis and curries, I must mention the most amazing out of the world mutton Haleem I had from a food stall in the popular Grand Baie beach side area. My chef bro-in-law saw the man cooking it and couldn't help himself. He got us two small tubs brimming with creamy Haleem.

It was so good that we gobbled it up standing in a car parking near the pier while waiting to get on to the yacht that had been booked for a fancy barbecue party for my niece's 13th birthday.

Then there was the usual shrimps in a million ways, red snapper, occasional octopus, calamari, sword fish and all sorts of sea food. But then as usual it was all the same with some local flavours and twists.

But then came the day I was supposed to leave for Delhi. My bro-in-law got me some local snacks to try while I was packing for my journey back! My favourite were Gateau Piment or Gato Pima. A Gateau may mean cake for most of us but these are dal fritters with the famous Mauritian chilli Pima! Yes the same one that I ate on my first night there thinking its green chutney. Anyway I avoided Pima after that but here it was just perfect! Not overwhelming the taste but complimenting it. The crispy fritters were soft inside with the crispy outer skin having a bit of achari taste!

He also got Mauritian version of samosa, a filo pastry triangle stuffed with boiled potatoes and peas. I have seen this in India too and it is actually a lazy cook's samosa.

Anyway while Mauritian food is not something you can write couplets about, it definitely adds the right spice to your trip there. The island has taken flavours from India, China, France, Africa and added their own Tadka to it. I will end this piece with a few photos of the food that I enjoyed there.