Dazzling Creole Recipes03/05/2019
We spoke to Selina Periampillai to learn more about her debut book 'The Island Kitchen Cookbook' and her passion for Creole cuisine. Prepare to embark on a journey around the Indian Ocean islands to try irresistible feel-good recipes from her debut 'The Island Kitchen Cookbook' ...
A home grown passion
Selina a London-based self-taught chef, born to Mauritian parents debut 'The Island Kitchen Cookbook' is out now so make sure you order it here. Offering 80 simple recipes from quick mid-week suppers to large rum-fuelled gatherings, taste the flavours of the colourful markets of Mauritius, the aromatic spice gardens of the Seychelles and the fishing coasts of the Maldives. With dishes such as sticky chicken with garlic and ginger, mustard and turmeric-marinated tuna and pineapple upside-down cake with cardamom cream - this book will take you straight to the warm, welcoming kitchens of these beautiful islands.
It's clear to see Selina's love of cooking and food developed at an early age, she recalls that her mother would often prepare dishes at home including "lentils,dhal, rice, sugar puris, sweet potato cakes and simple dishes from Mauritius." The simple mention of Sugar Puris would fill her with excitement and anticipation as her mother would fill these normal Indian round flatbreads "with sugar, roll them into a circle and drop them in the pan to be fried, they puff up and bounce around." Her first bite into molten hot sugar "would burn but I didn't care. It was divine." Returning to Mauritius at least once a year Selina enjoys learning something new, meeting locals and cooking food from her heritage during every visit.
How the Island Kitchen Cookbook was born
Her passion for eating and testing out new recipes took her travelling around the Indian Ocean. Keen to explore the islands surrounding Mauritius and discover Creole cuisine in each place, Selina wanted to learn how different or similar the dishes were, with the aim to "educate and hopefully encourage people to cook some of these humble dishes in their own home." because "it is such an under-represented part of the world."
Selina travelled alone and embarked on an exciting journey of discovery hearing stories and the history of the islands from those who welcomed her " it was refreshing to meet new people, cook these dishes I had tasted at home and recreate them for the book." Each island offered great local recipes, street food and dishes that she says have just been waiting to be "unleashed on the world!" 'The Island Kitchen Cookbook' was born to spread the "warmth of the islands, the people are so hospitable and this shines through the food - it's cooked with love!"
We asked Selina what her favourite destination is following her travels "well Mauritius of course! I always feel at home here and learn something new each time." Visiting "Takamaka winery (an artisan who makes lychee wine) is amazing, it is the best wine I have tasted." Her favourite Mauritian dish is "dhal and rice with tuna rougaille (a spicy Creole sauce) - something I look forward to when I go to my mum's!" But when it comes to popular Creole cuisine she says "I find people love to have fish vindaye (pickled mustard fish) and the Mauritian street food - Dhal Puri." And as for her time in the Seychelles she tells us " I loved Le Grande Maison in Au Cap in Seychelles, the lovely chef, is doing great things with fresh local produce from the island."
So what is it that makes Creole cuisine so special? Selina explains "It's so unique due to it's colonial history." Mauritius was a significant port of trade in the 18th century, slaves were brought over from Madagascar and India by French and British rule. Also Chinese merchants settled on the island which explains why Mauritius's culture is so diverse and multi-cultural. As Selina says "it shines through the food, you can have Chinese style dumplings alongside Indian rotis and pickles. And fresh herbs like parsley and thyme were attributed by the French into light stews and bourginon style meat dishes."
Sharing Creole Cuisine
Taking inspiration from "other amazing women in the food industry" and her husband who "started a business from scratch - it takes guts and a belief in yourself to do that." Selina also tells us she tries to "to write my goals every morning with a fresh mind (and sometimes coffee!), it's important to get some fresh air, clear the mind, take a break from social media and just read a good book." As these are the times she says "when ideas just pop up."
Selina "loves meeting new people and hearing about their travels to Mauritius." Finding happiness in creativity and cooking she "loves feeding people." and through her private events, cookery classes, food festival demos and cookbook she is sharing her "journey, stories and spread the word about Mauritian cuisine."
To truly embrace island cooking Selina suggests:
- Don't stress out if you have forgotten any ingredients or spice - just find an alternative or leave it out. I mention substitutes in my book where I can but what's the worst that can happen?
- Enjoy cooking - embrace a little island time and slow it down!
- In the 'Island Kitchen Cookbook' there are easy weekday suppers, family feasts and indulgent desserts - something for everyone.
Follow in Selina's footsteps
Try tantalising Mauritian cuisine at our stunning Mauritius hotels. Enjoy delicious Creole dishes at La Ravanne, sample tantalising Indian dishes at Mahiya and tuck into gourmet Creole cuisine prepared by award-winning head chef Michel de Matteis at La Goelette
Order your copy of The Island Kitchen Cookbook here and bring a taste of the Indian Ocean into your own kitchen!
If this blog has got your taste buds tingling why not discover more about the gastronomical delights in Mauritius or give our Reservation team a call to book your Mauritian food adventures including excursions so you can discover the melting pot of flavours for yourself.