The Seychelles islands are known for a number of things. Right at the top of most peoples’ list would be the beaches, what with their turquoise warm waters, brilliant white sands, palm trees and, well, you’ve got the idea.

Another thing most visitors to these islands fall in love with is the food. And there’s good reason for that. From freshly caught fish, to locally grown fruit, from spicy curries to sweet fried bananas, there is something here for every taste bud and palate.

I am lucky enough to be part Seychellois, and have spent a significant part of my life on these wonderful islands. My granny makes some pretty spectacular traditional Creole dishes. Here, in no particular order, are some dishes you should try out when you hit the islands.

Fresh grilled fish

grilled rainbow runner fish

The Seychelles is home to a countless number of tropical fish species, which local fisherman will sell to you, either from the market in Victoria, or by the side of the road fresh from the boat. Listen out for the sound of a conch shell being blown – the traditional sign that fish has just been brought ashore for sale.

One of the most popular ways to prepare a fish is over the hot coals of a BBQ, often fired by coconut husks to give a wonderful aroma and flavour to the fish. Usually preparation of the fish is minimal – just some slits down the side into which garlic, ginger and chilli is stuffed – and then grilled to perfection. Barracuda in particular are excellent done in this style.

Salted fish Rougay

string of freshly caught fish

Salted fish, or Pwason Sale, as the locals call it, is less common today than it used to be, but it is still available if you know where to look. Again, the lack of refrigeration until well into the late 20th century meant that food preservation was a challenge, so to keep produce edible all sorts of preservation techniques were used, including pickling and salting.

Salted fish is pretty much what you would imagine it to be – fish is liberally covered in salt and then left to dry in the sun. When you want to cook it, you soak it for a while, drain some of the salt out, then use it as you would any other ingredient.

I’m not going to lie to you – this is what could be described as an acquired taste. The taste is both incredibly fishy and incredibly salty at the same time. If you’re into anchovies, you will probably be in heaven. If you hate anchovies.. well.. perhaps go for the curry.

There are a variety of ways that salt fish can be served, but the absolute classic has to be the Rougay. This is basically just a tomato and onion base with plenty of garlic, ginger and chilli, fried up, then served with rice. If you want to try out the Rougay but aren’t into the fishy flavours of Pwason Sale, then a great alternative features coarse ground local sausage.

Curry

coconut husks on the grill

When my Mum moved out to the Seychelles way back in the seventies, she started out her culinary adventures by asking my Dad how they cooked things. She relates that she soon gave up asking the question because the default answer was invariably curry.

And curry really is a dish that your average Seychellois adores. This could be something to do with the history of the islands – electricity arrived late – so spices were used as a preservative. Whatever the reason, curry, often based around masala spices, hot chillies and lots of freshly made coconut cream, is a staple.

The ingredients vary, back in the day bat and goat were key ingredients, although you may struggle to find those today. Instead, chicken and fish curries are likely to be on your plate. Enjoy, but do watch out, because the Seychellois do like their curries hot!

Anything with banana in

food-seychelles-banane la daube

The Seychelles, at last count, is home to at least 23 different banana species. From tiny little sweet bananas, to giant plantains that need to be cooked, there is a banana size for everyone. And once you’ve tried a recently plucked banana you will wonder how you ever coped with the supermarket variety back home.

Bananas are used as a key ingredient in a number of dishes, most notably, desserts. Bananas fried with sugar and butter are a favourite of mine, resulting in a giant, sticky, toffee like mess. Bananas baked with coconut milk and sugar are another classic, the so called Banann ladob. You’ll also find them flambeed with rum or brandy, fried as chips, and of course, just served as they come. Delicious in every way!

Breadfruit

cooking breadfruite in coconut husks woman holding breadfruit and sour sap

Finally, on my list of foods to try out in the Seychelles, is the breadfruit. Breadfruit is a remarkably versatile food ingredient, basically imagine it as a giant potato in terms of cooking flexibility. So you can boil it, bake it, mash it and fry it. It can even be cooked in coconut milk and sugar as a dessert option.

By far the best way to eat breadfruit is to just put it whole (they are fairly large), with the tough skin on, into the embers of your fire, surrounded by coconut husks, leave it for around 45 minutes, and when the skin is charred, crack it open to reveal the steaming creamy white flesh within.

Traditionally, you would then lather it with pork lard and salt and chow on down, but these days people find butter to be a more than acceptable substitute. And don’t forget the Creole saying – if you’ve eaten breadfruit in Seychelles, you are guaranteed to come back to the islands!

Laurence Norah is the author of Finding the Universe, a website dedicated to sharing travelling experiences, musings on life and photography. Laurence is a passionate traveller, photographer and writer whose journeys thus far have taken him across five continents. Laurence is currently on the road with no fixed abode, his travels can be followed at

 

 

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24 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    Oh man!! It’s only breakfast time here, and you’ve given me a hankering for coconut barracuda now. If I’m smart, I’ll start waiting until lunchtime to come read what The Planet D is saying from now on. :)

  2. Joey Phi

    Those coconut pieces made me gag, I am in the Amazon jungle and the last time I saw some was in a bucket full of huge maggots. Yup, they were making kebabs with them yuck! grossss

      1. Joey Phi

        Yes I am sure it is true, however, I am typically a raw vegan so anything that moves is a big no-no haha. Ate fish during my ayahuasca dieta, but I’m going back to raw veganism now that it’s over, so no maggots for moi!

      2. davendeb

        Good for you for going vegan Joey. It is a beautiful choice to make the decision not to eat a living thing. While we eat meat, we like to only eat it in moderation.

    1. davendeb

      Wow, they must have been some juicy maggots to be able to fit on a kebab. Dare I ask if you tried them?

  3. Sage

    Any cuisine based on the sea and a heavy dose of equatorial spices in a winner in my book. I especially appreciate that all these island cuisines have some sort of fancy-pants, spicy, ultra-flavorful fish stew…
    Yum!
    ~Sage

    1. Laurence

      Ah, fish stew. Where would we be without it. And have to agree, spiced equatorial food of the marine variety is a sure fire winner in my book :)

  4. iamthewitch

    I love anything with bananas too! It’s cheap, delicious and healthy! And the grilled fish looks really delicious.. makes me crave for one right now. LOL!

    1. davendeb

      There is something about bananas in the islands. I hate the taste of them at home in Canada, but when traveling, I can’t get enough of them. They taste so good!

  5. Migrationology

    Awesome post Laurence! It’s been a few years since my last taste of breadfruit, but you summed it up quite well…it’s amazing. I would love to try some Seychelles style curry and fresh seafood!

  6. Laurence

    @Sage – have to agree, I’m a big fan of all Creole type cooking. Loved the Caribbean flavours in Costa Rica when I was there too!

    @iamthewitch – my favourite kind of bananas are the really tiny ones, they are really sweet and tasty :)

    @Migrationology – thanks, breadfruit really is an awesome fruit :) Ah, now I’m hungry for curry and seafood again, tropical fish just can’t be beaten!

  7. ayngelina

    You must stop! I cannot have any more locations on my must-see list! Seychelles wasn’t even on my radar until this post, damn you and my every growing list.

    1. Laurence

      Hey Ayngelina, sorry about that! The world is a pretty big place I am realising – which is part good thing because I’m not going to run out of places to visit, and part bad thing because quite frankly, how the heck am I going to afford to see it all!

    2. davendeb

      I hear you Ayngelina. I love it when we receive posts like this. It gives us another place to explore and add to the list of must see destinations.

    1. davendeb

      Good idea, we should throw in a photograph of the fermented coconut sap that Laurence is talking about. Then the menu would be complete!

  8. Laurence

    @Sarah – fresh seafood is certainly a winner! And you can’t get it much fresher than buying it off the boat as they come ashore :)

    @Rebecca – Well.. I didn’t mention it in the article, but there are a range of locally brewed beverages that may help you on your way. The popular “toddy”, made from fermented coconut sap, is a potent one, although you may wake up with no recollection of drinking it, let alone eating the rougay!

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