Whether as an accompaniment or part of the main dish, the warm heat of chillies permeate through much of the cuisine in the Indian Ocean.
Introduced to the region by settlers from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, chilli has become a central flavour for the region’s national dishes of curries, pickles, stews and the delicious marinades used to flavour fresh seafood.
Uses across the islands
Thanks to its history as a producer of spices for the British Empire, the Seychelles has a strong tradition of chilli production and today more than 10 different varieties of chillies are grown and used in Creole cooking across the country.
In Mauritius chilli, particularly the local cari chilli, plays an important role in both savoury and sweet dishes with chilli and sugar sprinkled over fruit as a tasty sweet treat. The Indian influence on the island’s cuisine sees spicy chillies used in curries and pickles while the African influence can be detected in the picante Creole sauces and the local chilli paste mazavaroo.
In traditional Madagascan cooking chillies are usually eaten as an accompaniment to the main dish rather than cooked with it. A rich condiment of chilli, garlic, ginger, lemon, onion and carrots steeped in vinegar is a traditional ‘hot sauce’ added to many dishes at the table.
Recipes to try at home
- Create your own authentic Mauritian samosas and chilli cakes with mint chutney and love-apple tomato chutney
- Make a traditional Maldivian chilli tomato preserver with our recipe for grilled squid and Moofushi chilli preserve
- Create a genuine Indian Ocean Creole favourite with our recipe for red snapper with Creole Sauce
- Try the Mauritian favourite cari chilli in our recipe for roasted aubergine chatini with peanuts and fritters of cari chilli
- Find out the role cinnamon plays in the cuisine of the Indian Ocean
- Check out our insider’s guide to Mauritian cuisine
- Discover why vegetarian food in the Indian Ocean is worth writing home about.