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 Seychelles food, and there is 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.
1. Fresh grilled 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.
2. Coconut Curry
Curry 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, curry leaves, 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, with Octopus Curry a local Seychelles speciality you should definitely try at least once.
An often overlooked dish, but a critical side component of a traditional Seychelles curry feast is the humble lentil. In Seychelles, red lentils are a popular staple, served as a side dish with many dishes. These are often cooked for a long time with garlic, onion and ginger, with the result being a fairly yellow paste.
4. Sausage Rougay
One of the all time favourite dishes is “sosis rougay”, or sausage rougay. This is a sausage based dish in a rich tomato and onion sauce, which usually also features garlic, ginger and chilli. The secret to a fabulous sausage rougay though is the type of sausage. Ideally, this dish will be made with local coarse cut salted sausage. This is a little bit like a Tuscan sausage in texture, but a lot saltier, and gives the dish it’s signature flavour. Rougay can also have other ingredients, a salted fish rougay is another favourite Seychelles food!
5. Anything with banana in
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 have 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, resulting in a giant, sticky, toffee like mess. Bananas baked with coconut milk and sugar are another classic, the so called Banann ladob. You will also find them flambeed with rum or brandy, fried as chips, and of course, just served as they come. Delicious in every way!
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, and breadfruit “ladobe” is a classic Seychelles dessert.
7. Smoked Fish Salad
As you would imagine, the Seychelles has a lot of fish! One popular and traditional way of preserving fish, particularly before the advent of refrigeration, was to smoke it. Smoked fish has a wonderful flavour, and it works particularly well in a cold salad. This can be served with a variety of vegetables with a dressing, and the fish is usually a larger fish with darker meat, like swordfish, sailfish or tuna. It is also popular to use unripe fruits such as mango or papaya in the salad, which adds a tangy zest to the dish.
8. Traditional “Satini”
In the Seychelles a “Satini” is a sort of salad, which consists of finely grated ingredients. This is commonly made with either unripe fruits, such as papaya or golden apple, and mixed with spices and onions. It can also have quite a lot of chilli in, so do beware. Satini can also be made with fish, most commonly shark, and it will usually be yellowed with turmeric spices and look like finely ground meat. Ground coconut is another popular ingredient.
9. Fresh Fruit
Being a tropical paradise, you would think that Seychelles would be blessed with oodles of fresh fruit. And you would be right! There is all sorts of fresh fruit on offer, including mango, papaya, avocado, banana, starfruit, coconut, limes, grapefruit – the list goes on!
10. Traditional Seychelles Snacks
Speaking of snacking, if you find yourself getting hungry, there are a number of traditional Seychelles snack foods that you should try. These can be bought at most corner stores or supermarkets quite easily and cheaply.
Three of the more popular snacks are banana chips, breadfruit chips and “molouk”. The former are deep fried and salted snacks, much like potato chips. The latter is basically deep fried bread dough. Sure, none of those snack options are exactly healthy, but they sure are tasty! If you want a slightly healthier, not deep fried option, coconut is a popular snack option too!