Mauritius, known officially as the Republic of Mauritius, is an island nation located off the southeast coast of the African continent in the Indian Ocean. It is a volcanic island of lagoons and palm-fringed beaches with coral reefs surrounding most of the coastline.
The island is situated approximately 2400 kilometers off the South East Coast of Africa. The island covers an area of 1,865 square kilometers or 720 square miles, with 330 kilometers of coastline. Mauritius is 45km in width and 65km in length.
Mauritius is a densely populated island of around 1.2 million people. It has a reputation for stability and racial harmony among its mixed population. Mauritius is known as a plural society where all the ethnic groups present: Hindus, Muslims, Creoles, Chinese and Europeans live in peace and where all the ancestral cultures have been preserved. These features make the island a unique place in the world, and the Mauritians known for their tolerance and kindness towards all people.
Most Mauritians are bilingual being equally fluent in French and English. English is the official language, but French and Creole are widely spoken. Oriental languages also form part of the linguistic mosaic.
Mauritius has preserved its image as one of Africa's few social and economic success stories, being a sugar and clothing exporter and a center for up market tourism.
The island of Mauritius itself is divided into nine districts:
Mauritius was first discovered by the Arabs as early as in the 10th century, but officially explored by the Portuguese in the 16th century and subsequently settled by the Dutch in the 17th century. The Dutch were the ones who named the island in honor of Prince Maurits van NASSAU.
Mauritius was occupied successively by the Dutch (1598-1712) and later by the French (1715-1810).
The French assumed control in 1715, developing the island into an important naval base overseeing the Indian Ocean trade, and establishing a plantation economy of sugar cane.
The British captured the island in 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars through the Treaty of Paris. Mauritius remained a strategically important British naval base, and later on, an air station playing an important role during World War II for anti-submarine and convoy operations, as well as the collection of signals intelligence. On 12 March 1968, Mauritius became Independent.
Mauritius cuisine has a 300 years history, with a multitude of influences brought by the people who settled there over time .
Deer, sugar cane , fruits such as tamarind, were brought by the Dutch, settled during the 17th century. French settlers left their cooking methods , “daube” and “civet” (stew), rehabilitated by local since. Also, the intendant Pierre Poivre brought many spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves .
Around 1830, English settlers decided to use Indian workers to plow the fields of sugar cane. They brought their culinary methods, the famous curry, now called “cari”, and the Briani, a traditional dish of the Muslim community.
Chinese immigration, mostly from Canton in turn enriched the Mauritian cuisine by introducing wok cooking and multiple sauces like soy sauce. Besides, what would be the Mauritian cuisine without our traditional fried rice, fried noodles, inverted bowl and boiled noodle.
All these influences have given rise to a rich, varied and above all exceptional cuisine.
The cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Chinese, European and Indian influences in the history of Mauritius. Dishes from French cuisine have grown very popular in Mauritius. Most of the dishes and practices into the culinary traditions are inspired from former slaves, Indian workers and Chinese migrant during the 19th century
During the nineteenth century, after the abolition of slavery, Indian workers who migrated to Mauritius brought their cuisine with them. Those indentured labourers came from different parts of India, each with their own culinary tradition, depending on the region. Traces of both northern and southern Indian cuisine can be found in Mauritius. Some common preparations are curry, chutney, rougaille (tomato paste that is very popular with fish) and pickles, most of which use local ingredients. The Mauritian versions of those dishes have a local flavour and differ, at times considerably, from the original Indian recipes.
The end of the 19th century saw the arrival of Chinese migrants, who came mostly from the south-eastern part of China. They are largely credited with making rice the staple diet of the island, and making noodles, both steamed and fried, popular. Chinese appetizers such as hakien (local version of the spring roll with a flour batter replacing the traditional rolled wrapping), crispy chicken and crispy squid have become part of the Mauritian folklore.
Furthermore, Chinese and other Asian restaurants are present all around the island, and offer a variety of chicken, squid, beef and fish dishes, most typically prepared in black bean sauce or oyster sauce. Mauritian families often consider a dinner at an Asian restaurant as a treat.