The Reunion Island, with its French heritage and culinary cues from mainland Africa, Madagascar, India and China, have created gastronomical pleasures that have visitors from all over the world coming back for more.
The Réunionese love to cook. Take French culture as a base, add a pinch of Malagasy customs, a zest of Chinese know-how, a bit of Indian savour, and you'll get a unique exotic recipe. For travelers who love to eat their way through a place, this tiny territory has no shortage of interesting dishes to explore. Here are a few highlights worth seeking out.
The traditional dish is curry, a little ritual is that the rice is placed at the bottom of the plate, the grains are added on top and lastly the curry. Chutneys and relishes are then served in a separate dish.
Samoosas are yummy golden triangles that crunch between your teeth as you bite into them, and the exotic savour of the stuffing teases your taste buds and are divine. Originally from India, samoosas are ideal to accompany a tropical punch. Dumplings are Chinese meatballs enveloped in rice-based dough. Bonbons piments, made from broad beans, have their own place among Creole appetizers. They are sold in all the markets, and by many food sellers.
More delicious dishes, the main course, always accompanied by rice, is “carris”, the local version of the Indian curry, “rougail” and stews. Dishes can also optionally be flavored with ginger and zest of Makrut lime leaves lime is generally appreciated. Chop suey and other Asian dishes such as pork with pineapple are also very common.
Then, of course, there is meat. The traditional way of preserving meat is the “boucanage” or, smoking the meat, and the cooking is done in cast iron pots. Traditionally, the main course was also prepared in the courtyard in the campfire or in a small outbuilding out of the house called the “cuisine”. They were then consumed on a banana leaf and often eaten with hands.
The Réunionese are also known for rougails, pickles, leafy greens, spices and the most delicious desserts. The most commonly served desserts are seasonal fruit of mango, pineapples, litchis and longan in summer and guavas in winter. The rest of the treats can be enjoyed at any time in small amounts including the “bonbon la rouroute”, “bonbon cravat” or “bonbon miel”, the latter two being fried. There are also different cakes such as potato cake, “gato ti’son”, pies seasonal fruits, banana fritters.
No matter what you choose to tantalize your taste buds with in Reunion, it will be irresistibly delicious.