Spices of the Indian Ocean: Chilli

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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.


Samosas and chilli cake, mint chutney and “love-apple” tomato chutney

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

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