Interview by Andrew Purvis, The Daily Telegraph, March 17, 2014
Mauritius in five courses
Where Permalloo would enjoy…
A typical brunch
Mauritians are quite French when it comes to breakfast. We are bread and pastries people, though we drink tea rather than coffee because we produce our own. We are also street-food people, so we might have a mid-morning snack at somewhere like Flacq Market, where the food is cooked in advance and served off the backs of mopeds or from a glass cabinet in the food court. My favourite is dholl puri, an unleavened bread like a thin pancake made with gram flour, lentils and crushed cumin seeds. It’s very light, and served with condiments such as red or green sauce, which are essentially chilli.
Central Flacq Market (Flacq, East Mauritius). Best on Wednesday and Sunday when all the stalls are open. Dholl puri about 24p each
My favourite place is on the east coast, the part of the island I love most. It’s called Chez Tino, named after the owner, where you can eat wonderful fish and seafood overlooking a beautiful bay. Crab soup, grilled lobster and prawn curry are house specialities.
Another good find is Le Fangourin at L’Aventure du Sucre, the sugar museum in Port Louis. Start with octopus salad or giant prawns with fresh heart of palm and a confit of papaya and onion, followed by grilled sea bream, grouper or bass with curry leaves, or red snapper curry with coconut milk.
If you take a rum tour at the Chamarel distillery, have lunch at its gourmet restaurant, L’Alchimiste, where the dishes include palm-heart salad, venison and wild boar. It has a good list of fine wines, many of them French.
Chez Tino (Route Royale, Trou d’Eau Douce, East Mauritius; 00230 480 2769; chez-tino.restaurant.mu ). Three courses £20, excluding drinks
Le Fangourin (Beau Plan, Pamplemousses, North Mauritius; 243 7900; aventuredusucre.com ). Three courses £16-£24
L’Alchimiste (Rhumerie de Chamarel, Route Royale, Chamarel, South-west Mauritius; 483 7980; rhumeriedechamarel.com ). Three courses £30
There are no Michelin-starred restaurants on the island, but you can expect Michelin-standard food at many hotels. I went to Safran at Le Touessrok once, which was brilliant. The chef, Ramesh Bundi, does modern interpretations of Indian cuisine: marinated tandoori salmon with green herbs, mustard and pan-seared scallops; lamb cutlet encrusted with curry leaf and red onion, with rose petal and lamb jus and saffron puri (a deep-fried unleavened bread); and coconut cremeux with Granny Smith jelly, cucumber and mint ice cream.
Safran (Le Touessrok Hotel, Trou d’Eau Douce, East Mauritius; 402 7400; safran.restaurant.mu ). Six-course tasting menu £60, with wines £104; three courses à la carte £50 without drinks
Breakers Bar at Maradiva, where I run the cookery school, is right by the beach with a terrace where you can watch the sunset, and live jazz or piano every night. I love Pink Pigeon rum, named after a bird unique to Mauritius. It’s a spiced rum infused with vanilla, used here in eight different cocktails including a martini, a mojito and a daiquiri. They’re shamefully easy drinking.
Breakers Bar (Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa, Wolmar, Flic en Flac, West Mauritius; 403 1500; maradiva.com ). Cocktails £9 plus VAT
The food isn’t spectacular but the experience is beautiful at Domaine Anna, a Chinese-Mauritian restaurant with thatched gazebos lit by candles and tapers. You can sit in small groups and eat surrounded by man-made lakes, gardens and the sugar plantation beyond. It’s quite romantic. Begin with smoked marlin or Chinese soup with chicken and prawns, and go on to steamed fish with shallots and ginger, or sweet-and-sour crab.
I also love Le Château de Bel Ombre, in a colonial building on what used to be a sugar plantation. There are sophisticated takes on game, such as pheasant terrine with tamarind confit, but go on a Saturday for traditional Mauritian food.
Domaine Anna (Médine estate, Flic en Flac, West Mauritius; 453 9650; domaineanna.net ). Three courses £31
Le Château de Bel Ombre (Domaine de Bel Ombre, South-west Mauritius; 623 5522; domainedebelombre.mu ). Three courses £35-£70 most nights, Saturday night Mauritian menu £33
Shelina Permalloo's Mauritius: Gourmet Getaways
Shelina Permalloo, the winner of MasterChef 2012, who created 'sunshine on a plate’, selects her favourite food spots on the island of Mauritius
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