A foodie journey into Indian Ocean Cuisine

The island nations of the Indian Ocean are united in a cuisine inspired by the rich scents and flavours of the spice route, the influences of their African neighbours and a variety of settlers from across the globe.

Indian Ocean cuisine

Indian Ocean cuisine

The food of Mauritius, Maldives, Madagascar and Seychelles are all infused with culinary traditions which stretch from India and Asia to Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Each of these nations has drawn these rich international influences into their own unique national cuisine to create a heaven of gastronomic discovery for the foodie traveller.

Take our tour of Indian Ocean cuisine.

Mauritius

With its rich culinary history, Mauritian cuisine is inspired by the array of fresh produce which grows on this lush, fertile island as well as the seafood caught in its clear, calm waters.

Settlers from India, Africa and China and its past as a French colony mean that you are likely to enjoy croissants alongside samosas for breakfast and dim sum or fish vindaye (a curry to rival the Indian vindaloo) for lunch.

The favourite flavours in Mauritian cuisine come from the gentle heat of chillies such as the cari chilli, turmeric, garlic, tamarind, ginger and vanilla (most of which are grown on the island). Chilli is so popular in Mauritius that it is even sprinkled on pineapple and sold as a popular street food.

Seychelles

The Creole cuisine of the Seychelles is a blend of African, French, Chinese and Indian influences warm with spices and rich with flavour.

Historically the colonial producer of spices for the British Empire the Seychelles has a tradition of food flavoured by chilli, garlic, ginger and cinnamon.

The Indian Ocean also plays a central role in Creole cuisine with seafood flavoured by Seychellois spices including lemongrass (citonel), chilli (pima) and onions (la ke onyon).

Another key ingredient are the luscious tropical fruits which grow on the islands including mango, pineapple, banana and passion fruit.

Seafood in the Seychelles

Seafood in the Seychelles

Maldives

Ninety-nine per cent of the Maldives is ocean so fishing is at the heart of this nation of small islands which explains why seafood plays such a major role in Maldivian cuisine.

Largely influenced by neighbours in India and Asia, the Maldivians have embraced many traditional Indian and Asian dishes such as curries and laksas and adapted them into uniquely Maldivian dishes.

Tuna plays an important role in Maldivian cuisine with tuna curry proving one of the nation’s favourite dishes. Fresh tuna soup (garudhiya) made with hot chillies and onion is another spicy favourite.

Madagascar

The food, like the wildlife, on Madagascar is vibrant and unique with influences largely from France, Africa and Asia.

Almost every meal in Madagascar is made up of rice (vary) and an accompanying dish (known as laoka) of fresh seafood, zebu (meat from a local cattle) or vegetables.

Madagascan cuisine is flavoured with local spices including cloves, vanilla, black pepper, ginger, nutmeg and curry powder with onion, garlic and tomato added to create rich, warm flavours.

Madagascans like their food hot and often add sakay (a pepper sauce) to what they’re eating to turn up the heat.

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What you need to know for a holiday in Maldives

If you’re planning a trip to the Maldives then you probably already know about the white sand beaches, clear crystal waters and idyllic climate.

Arrive at Constance Moofushi by seaplane

Arrive at Constance Moofushi by seaplane

Here are some other things you need to know for a holiday in Maldives.

1. Arriving by seaplane is one of the highlights of the holiday

Make sure you’ve got your camera to hand as you board the seaplane at Malé Airport because you’re going to want it. Arriving at your resort by seaplane is one of the most stunning introductions to the nation of Maldives you can imagine with views across the Indian Ocean dotted with stunning white sand coral islands.

2. The Maldives is child-friendly

The Maldives may have a reputation as a honeymoon destination but that doesn’t mean that it’s not the perfect place to take kids for a family holiday. For younger kids try a beach or family villa rather than a stilted one over the water and relax beside your own pool while you watch the little ones play on the beach. Constance Halaveli even offers a complimentary Kids Club so the kids will have plenty to do.

3. Swim with some of the ocean’s gentle giants

The waters around the Maldives are home to a wide range of stunning marine life but few get the pulse racing as much as manta rays and whale sharks. These graceful giants pass through our waters from November to April.

Swim with Manta Rays

Swim with Manta Rays

4. Each Maldivian island has its own coral reef encircling a lagoon

The Maldives is made up of 1,190 coral islands spread across 26 atolls covering an area of more than 90,000sq kilometres. Each island has its own coral reef and lagoon which protects it from the wind and wave action of the vast surrounding ocean. It is the islands’ uniquely isolated location that make the Maldives feel like a secluded haven away from the modern world.

5. Maldivian culture is a unique combination of global influences

With influences from the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe the Maldivian culture offers a unique blend of music, tradition and cuisine. Influences can be found in the curries which are a staple in the Maldivian cuisine, music played on the traditional bodu-beru drum which resembles an African drum and the local dhoni boats used by the fishermen which are similar in design to the Arabian dows.

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When to travel to the Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean offers a year-round playground of white sand beaches, sunshine and warm waters so all you need to do is pick the season and location best for you.

Indian Ocean destinations: Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

Indian Ocean destinations: Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

Close to the equator, temperatures rarely fall below 20ºC and seasons tend to be divided into wet and dry with a wet season in which warm tropical rain usually clears to blue skies in a matter of hours.

Choosing the perfect destination and time of year to travel to the Indian Ocean can depend on what you’re looking for from your holiday. Keen divers may want to follow key migration seasons, windsurfers are looking for sea breezes while sunbathers want nothing more than to follow the warm sun.

Mauritius

October-April: summer in Mauritius, 26ºC to 32ºC

  • This is the island’s wettest season but rainfall rarely lasts long and tends to be local, the microclimate on the island means the weather can differ within a few kilometres.
  • The warm waters of the Mauritian summer bring with them a vast array of marine life so this is a great time of year for divers, snorkelers and those interested in big game fishing.

May-October: winter in Mauritius, 20ºC to 26ºC.

  • These cooler, drier months are perfect for excursions, sports, hiking and taking in the sights of this beautiful island.
Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Seychelles

Year-round temperatures approx. 24ºC-32ºC

October-April: Northwest Trade Winds bring warm weather but with it an increased risk of rainfall, although these usually occur in the form of short, sharp showers.

May-September: Southeast Trade Winds bring cooler, drier temperatures but the wind tends to be stronger creating larger waves making this the perfect time of year for surfing, windsurfing and sailing. Those looking for calmer waters at this time of year need to look for one of the many sheltered beaches on each of the islands.

April/May and October/November: the months in which one trade wind gives way to another offering calm bright dry days with no wind, creating the perfect conditions for scuba diving and big game fishing.

Maldives

Average temperatures 27ºC to 30ºC

December-March: North-eastern Monsoon. The nation’s driest season with plenty of warm sunshine. It is also a great time to get out on the water to try some water sports. Divers and snorkelers will also marvel at the migration of the Manta Rays through our waters at this time of year.

May-November: South-western Monsoon. Brings slightly more unsettled weather with a stronger wind making this the ideal time for sailing, surfing and windsurfing. There is still plenty of marine activity to enthral snorkelers and divers at this time of year including the migration of the beautiful whale shark.

April: when one monsoon gives way to another is a dry, calm month making it the ideal time to enjoy clear waters and uninterrupted sunbathing.

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Constance Tsarabanjina, Madagascar

Madagascar

November-April: warm, wet season

May-October: cooler, drier season

Within these general seasons there is a lot of local variation in Madagascar depending on elevation and which side of the island you are on (the west coast is dryer as it is most protected from the trade winds) and the driest of all is the extreme south.

Because there is so much to see in Madagascar many people choose to visit from May to October as this is the perfect time to explore nature trails, take hikes through the national parks and explore its unique wildlife.

September to December: warm and dry

The highest visibility for divers is from October to December and April to May, although many divers and nature lovers prefer to time their visits to coincide with the sperm whales’ arrival in July and August.

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Top 10 beach gadgets for 2014

From e-readers to waterproof cases for phones and tablets, this summer all your tech can be beach-ready. Take a look at our pick of this year’s top beach-friendly gadgets.

Top beach gadgets: ECOXPRO Waterproof Case

Top beach gadgets: ECOXPRO Waterproof Case

1. Waterfi Waterproofed Kindle Paperwhite (2nd Generation)

The clever folk at Waterfi have enhanced the latest Kindle Paperwhite to make it waterproof, sandproof, even suntan lotion proof so now you can enjoy your summer books anywhere and everywhere.

2. Mophie Powerstation

Using your smartphone or tablet on the beach as e-reader, games console, MP3-player and more can be a drain on its battery but pop one of these portable power stations in your beach-bag and you can charge your device twice over.

3. ECOXPRO Waterproof Case

Available on Amazon this cool waterproof case is designed to make any smartphone (including iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android handsets) waterproof. Plug in a standard audio jack and it doubles up as an on-the-go waterproof speaker.

4. Misfit Shine

Want to track your fitness levels as you swim out to sea or do laps in the hotel pool? Then strap on this sleek activity tracker. The device will gather all the data from your swim and then sync to an easy to use app on your smartphone. It can also be used for out of the water activities.

5. Sony Action Cam

Capture all the adventure of a beach holiday in stunning Sony quality with this neat point-of-view camera. Waterproof casing means you can capture waterskiing, sailing or big game fishing moments without worrying about damaging the camera. An ultra-wide lens and low-light sensor allows you to capture stunning images other cameras would miss.

Liquid Image Model 305 Hydra Series HD 720P

Liquid Image Model 305 Hydra Series HD 720P

6. LifeProof Cases

These cool sleek cases in a range of colours (or customise your own) make your beloved digital devices waterproof, dirt-proof, shock-proof and snow proof so you can literally take them anywhere on earth. Available for iPhones, iPads, iPods and Galaxy S3,4,5.

7. Samsung Galaxy S5

The all-singing-all-dancing new Galaxy S5 from Samsung is water, sand and dust resistant. Add to this its 16mp camera and energy saver setting and you have the perfect all-purpose beach smartphone.

8. Liquid Image Model 305 Hydra Series HD 720P

Allow friends and family back home to share in your scuba diving or snorkelling experiences as if they were with you with this high-tech dive mask with HD camcorder built in. The mask’s camera can take stills or video with audio at depths up to 40m.

9. Finis Neptune Underwater MP3 Player

Using revolutionary bone conduction audio transmission this MP3 player allows you to listen to music underwater without ear buds. Instead it transmits audio through your cheekbone directly into your inner ear.

10. Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet 32GB Wifi

This latest tablet from Sony is waterproof and dust proof, with its lightweight design (it’s only 0.25 inches thick and weighs 439.42g) it’s perfect for the beach and won’t weigh down your hand luggage.

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3 summer wines to try from New Zealand

Head sommelier at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Jerome Carlier, suggests three of his favourite New Zealand wines to be enjoyed in the summer sunshine.

Enjoy New Zealand's summer wines at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Enjoy New Zealand’s summer wines at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Escarpment Pinot Gris 2012, Escarpment Winery, New Zealand

Grown on the alluvial gravel soils of the Martinborough Terrace during a cool growing season for the district, a longer summer allowed fruit to ripen wonderfully.

The result was opulent fruit flavours combining beautifully with barrel fermentation to create a Burgundian-inspired Pinot Gris.

The flavours are reminiscent of ripe pears and white stone fruit with delightful soft texture ensuring a long commanding finish.

Its dry style has enhanced the fruit flavours Pinot Gris is renowned for. Partial malolactic fermentation and lees stirring has improved the texture allowing it to match most entrée dishes.

A great alternative to Chardonnay it has been inspired by the classical French approach to the variety. It is an accurate reflection of Martinborough’s unique terroir. Cellar for up to five years or more, successfully.

Pinot Noir Bannockburn 2012, Felton Road, New Zealand

Violets and roses, with a potpourri of spice box elements. A very textural rich palate of vibrant fruit without a hint of heaviness or excess. Intense concentration is coupled with a purity that enables every subtlety to sing through.

This being a combination of the three estate vineyards, the subtleties are manifold, each contributing to the complexity rather than being lost in the blend. The structure is confidently firm but not aggressive.

La Barachois at Constance Le Prince Maurice

La Barachois at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Summer Rosé 2011, Ata Rangi, New Zealand

This very pretty, beautifully balanced dry-style 2013 Summer Rosé is made largely from Merlot, with just a tickle of Pinot Noir and Syrah.

The fruit is crushed and left in the tank overnight before draining the juice from the skins and cool-fermenting in the tank.

A creamy strawberry/raspberry character and succulent watermelon notes run across the bright, crisp palate. In the background, faint hints of cranberry and a touch of aniseed add complexity and interest.

This versatile wine is a perfect drop for long summer afternoons on the veranda, or enjoying year-round with any lighter style, summery food.

Experience fine wine at Le Prince Maurice

Take a tour of our extensive wine cellar with capacity for 15,000 bottles followed by a wine tasting under the guidance of one of our highly trained sommeliers.

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10 top travel apps 2014

Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

Constance Lémuria, Seychelles

Today’s sophisticated travel apps make light work of planning a holiday.

Here’s our selection of ten of the best travel apps that will help you plan your next trip.

1. Packing Pro

Get organised before you leave with this essential packing app. The app allows you to make and keep a variety of lists (ski holiday, beach holiday, city break) and offers a range of template lists which can be customised to suit your personal needs. A must for family holidays.

2. Triposo

A travel guide app based on reviews and comments from 6 million travellers covering 200 countries and more than 25,000 destinations. Handily this app also works offline.

3. TravelSafe

Hopefully you’ll never need to use it but this app connects you to emergency services in countries around the world. Whatever country you’re in the app will connect you to your local services as well as providing local embassy information.

4. WeatherPro

Covering more than 2 million locations worldwide this popular weather app is a perfect choice for travellers wanting to check the weather forecast at their destination.

5. XE Currency

With access to live exchange rates this free app is perfect for calculating currencies on-the-go. Well laid out and simple to use this is better than many paid-for currency converter apps.

6. TripAdvisor

Still the go-to review site for the world’s travellers, TripAdvisor’s app gives reviews, guides and all important traveller ratings while you’re on-the-go.

Constance Moofushi, Maldives

Constance Moofushi, Maldives

7. FlightTrack

The FlightTrack app compiles all your flight information, including delays and cancellation, in one place making this a handy app for those taking more than one flight. Giving details such as which departure gate to head for and terminal maps this is all you’ll need for stress-free flying.

8. Foursquare

A quick way to get to grips with what’s going on in a new destination, the Foursquare app gives travellers the opportunity to add their comments to a global network of reviews including, hotels, sites and restaurants.

9. TripIt

This is an all-in-one travel organiser. Forward your confirmation emails to the TripIt app and it will collate all your travel information so you can access it quickly and easily. Share itineraries with friends, access itineraries from different devices and get maps and weather for your destination, this app really does everything except feed the cat while you’re away.

10. Postagram

For those that miss the days of sending and receiving postcards this is a cool app which allows you to create a postcard on your device using one of your own pictures and then will have the card printed and mailed direct to the recipient’s door.

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