Mauritius is famous for its beautiful beaches. Being an island in the Indian Ocean, you might imagine that its diet would be seafood-heavy. However, 60% of the population in Mauritius is Hindu. So, there is plenty of awareness and availability of vegetarian food on the island. When visiting Mauritius, you can find plenty of Indo-French and Indian food options. However, you should also try the local creole cuisine. With some information beforehand, you will know exactly what to order and where to eat when you are in Mauritius.
Rougaille is a classic Creole dish. The Mauritian version is a fusion of European and Indian flavors. It is a tomato-based sauce with herbs like parsley and thyme and Indian condiments. The dish gets extra depth with the use of ginger, garlic, and coriander. Rougaille in Mauritius normally contains meat. However, you can find a vegetarian version with kidney beans, tofu, and mushrooms. The vegetarian version of Rougaille is similar to the French dish Ratatouille in some ways. It is often served with rice. This dish is a must-try when you are in Mauritius. It is as local as you can get in terms of the food on the island.
You can find Rougaille in many local restaurants that specialize in Creole cooking. You can ask these restaurants to cook you a vegetarian version of the Rougaille. The Chez Tino restaurant in Trou D’Eau Douce has a vegetarian option and a fantastic sea view as well.
Lambic – Lambic in Port Louis is actually a microbrewery. The ambience and the crowd is hip with the charm of a 19th-century colonial house. There are a few vegetarian options available such as vegetarian spring rolls, eggplant cheese gratin, and the local version of kofta. You must surely try the vegetarian kofta with hollandaise sauce here as it is a classic Indo-French dish served with rice. It represents the fusion of the cooking styles of Indian migrants and French colonists. The hollandaise sauce will have eggs in it, so you might want to avoid this dish if you do not eat eggs. If you drink beer, then you will certainly find plenty of local brews to pair with your meal.
Les Copains d’Abord – This restaurant is a local food joint in Mahebourg. It has a few interesting vegetarian items such as gateau piment and the signature wild mushroom pancake topped with herbs and cheese. The delicious local food and the relaxed ambience of Mahebourg make Les Copains d’Abord worth a visit.
Port Louis Market is one of the best places to sample local Mauritian street food. From the bus terminal and the waterfront, it is a 5-minute walk to the market entrance. At the market area, you will find plenty of carts and stalls selling all sorts of street food. You may even spot food cases on a motorbike. People literally sell food through all means possible! Most of it is very similar to traditional Indian dishes but with some modifications. Some street foods are influenced by Chinese cuisines and some by local Creole cooking.
Some street foods worth trying are:
Dhal Puri – Dhal Puri is literally two famous Indian foods Dal and Puri. However, the Mauritian version does not really have puris (which are deep-fried). Rather, the puri is more like roti (Indian bread). The wheat-flour based roti is filled with a couple of spoons of dal and the tomato-based rougaille. The roti is then rolled up and served to you in a butter paper. It is like eating a roti roll. Perfect food for someone on-the-go.
Bhajiya – Bhaijya basically means Fritters. These are vegetables that are covered in a golden-brown batter and deep fried. Deep fried fritters are pretty much a universal snack all over the world and Mauritius is no different. There is a specific type of joy in eating hot and freshly fried fritters which come straight from the frying pan into your plate. Some chutney or hot sauce will go very well with Bhajiya.
Gateau Piment – A variation of Bhajiya, gateau piment is a ball of lentil-based batter that is deep fried till it becomes golden brown. Many people in India consider this dish to be a type of Bhajiya. A serving of gateau piment with some local spicy chutneys on the side is a perfect street food snack.
Aluda – The Mauritian version of the famous Indian falooda, Aluda is a mixture of milk, rose syrup, sweet basil seeds, and vermicelli. It is topped off with some ice cream. It is a dessert that you can eat after sampling all the other street food mentioned above.
Noodles and Dumplings – Sometimes, you might find Chinese food vendors on the street as well. You can try vegetarian noodles (if they have any) or vegetable dumplings.
Samosa – You can get Samosas on the streets of Mauritius and in the restaurants too. Samosa is a well-known Indian snack available in various countries around the world. You can’t go wrong with this snack. Just make sure that your Samosa does not have any meat or seafood in it. The vegetarian Samosas will have a potato filling in them.
Indian food will always have plenty of flavourful vegetarian food. Mauritius has plenty of Hindus and people of Indian descent, so finding Indian food is not difficult. Some of the best known Indian food restaurants in Mauritius are:
Happy Rajah – This restaurant in Grand Baie is considered to be one of the top Indian restaurants in Mauritius. All the staple north Indian items are on the menu. Happy Rajah also has a lunch thali for 240 Mauritian Rupees. Happy Rajah has now opened an outlet in Phoenix Mall as well.
Namaste Restaurant – If you want to eat Indian food at the Caudan Waterfront, then Namaste is the place to go to. It has all the north Indian staples and one south Indian vegetarian curry as well.
Safran – If you want to splurge and experience fine Indian cuisine, then the Shangri-La hotel has a restaurant called Safran. You can a wide variety of Indian food here. The most interesting item is on the dessert menu, called the chocolate samosa. The fried snack Samosa is a savory snack. So, to eat it as a chocolaty dessert is quite unique.
Govinda’s at Iskcon – Iskcon is the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and they have locations all over the world. Almost all of these outlets also have a vegetarian restaurant on-site. These restaurants go by the name Govinda’s or Gokul’s. At Iskcon’s Mauritius outlet, you can get a buffet thali at Govinda’s. The food is Indian and completely vegetarian. In fact, the food won’t even have onion and garlic in it. You can either opt for the buffet or order a-la-carte.
Pizza and Other International Cuisine
La Voglia Matta is a famous pizza joint in Trou aux Biches area of Mauritius. There are vegetarian options to choose from and the chef is from Italy. You can read the reviews here. This restaurant is popular so you might have to book a table in advance by calling them. After 6 p.m., the place gets busy.
La Faya in Pointe Aux Piments has quite a few Italian and Mediterranean options on its menu. You can either go for pasta, lasagne, pizza, or try the tabouleh salad. They have a vegetarian sandwich as well. The dessert menu is pretty good too with chocolate and ice-cream based dishes. An interesting dessert option is the orange-flavoured creme brulee.
Huai De Vegetarian Snack is a great option for vegan Chinese food. In fact, it is the only all-vegan food place in the Port Louis area. The person preparing the meals is a disciple of the Tao temple. Mock meat and tofu are used and the food has no onion and garlic. The place may get crowded during lunch, fasting season, and other religious days. The menu is in English but not very well-written. Another challenge is the fact that no one speaks English at this restaurant. If you have some Chinese translations, then carry them along with you or simply use sign language and finger pointing to order your meal.
Ousa Thai at Quatre Bornes, is a Thai food restaurant with vegetarian options. If European food and Indian food has bored you out, then you can try some Thai Curry or Pad Thai. The menu at this restaurant has clearly marked dishes which you can ask to be prepared as vegetarian friendly. Tofu will be used instead of meat. Make sure you ask the server not to put fish sauce or shrimp paste in your food.
If nothing works out, then visit the following
Coffee Shops/Cafes – A sandwich, a cake, or muffins can often be found in cafes of small shops in Mauritius. You might even be tempted to try out local tea and coffee flavours.
Italian Restaurants/Pizza Places – A simple pasta, a spaghetti, or a cheese/veggie pizza is a safe bet anywhere in the world, and Mauritius is no different. Just make sure the pasta sauce has no meat and the white sauce has no eggs (if you do not eat eggs).
Supermarkets – Do a shopping run at outlets of Spar, SuperU, Winner’s, Dreamprice, Intermart, and other neighbourhood supermarkets, as they would stock local produce and western/imported/packaged foods. Look for items that can be identified easily as vegetarian (e.g. fruits, veggies, bread, pasta, snacks, etc). The supermarkets in Mauritius often have cafes or food areas inside the store where you can get Samosas, bread rolls, cakes, and other vegetarian snacks.
Plan for a few options beforehand
While you cannot always expect to know exactly where and when you will eat, try to keep a list of few vegetarian restaurants in the area that you are going to visit. To create a list, use the following websites:
- Happy Cow Mauritius – This is perhaps the best resource online for finding vegan and vegetarian food
- Restaurants.mu – This website is like the Zomato or Yelp of food places in Mauritius
- A decent guide about Mauritian street food