This month, I was happy to ask a few questions of Anoushka Aodhorah, creator of PeachyTales: A Tale of Passion. A food blog focusing on Mauritian cuisine, this site is one that I find myself returning to again and again. Combining delicious recipes with always-engaging stories and beautiful food photos, it always has something exciting to offer to anyone who loves exotic recipes with a rich history. Anoushka talked with me about Mauritian cuisine, the popularity of Mauritian street food, what and where to eat on a perfect day in Mauritius, and a lot more.
Flavorful World: If you were to describe Mauritian cooking to someone unfamiliar with it, what would you say are the most distinctive attributes/characteristics of the cuisine?
Anoushka Aodhorah: Mauritian cuisine is an amalgam of different ethnicities which has led to a fusion of various cultures into one dish. Taking bits and pieces from the Indian, Chinese, Muslim and Creole original recipes, Mauritian food is a pleasure to the taste buds of everyone. It takes only one bite to sense the different cultures blended into the dishes as it is at the end a marriage of various cultural richness.
The most prominent characteristics of the cuisine is definitely in terms of flavours. To note that Mauritius is an Island located in the Indian Ocean where the sun is always shinning and the sea of an amazing blue really. So it is at the end a great blend of exotic and tropical flavours into one plate. Tropical flavours that will set your taste buds dancing with joy really as the island is always rich in abundance with fresh produce and fruits that contribute in creating wonders in terms of taste.
FW: Several of your posts reference the variety of wonderful street foods to be found in Mauritius. To what do you attribute the popularity of Mauritian street food? In what part(s) of Mauritius do you think the best street foods can be found, and what aspect(s) make that area’s foods the best?
AA: I strongly believe that if you want to find out more about a place, you need to first get down there and look deeper in its soul. Which is of no doubt, right into their street food. As not only will it tell you the rich cultural values about the place but also it will give you a greater view of the love among the locals and perhaps also bits and pieces of their story and how it all evolved with time.
Mauritius is also best known for its street food and it is widely sold everywhere around the island really. However if you want to have it all under the same roof, then a visit to the Central Market at Port Louis is a must. You will be spoilt rotten for a choice and would end up coming back to more really. If you are travelling and happen to be at the Centre of the Island then Quatre Bornes, Rose Hill or Vacoas is a definite must to stop and have some piping hot “Bhajjas”, “Gato Arouille” and “Dal Puri”. They are among the best place to try the locals delicacies and feel the warmth of the island. Because they say love is made visible through food, so no best way really to get deeper into the Mauritian vibe.
FW: What new blogging projects are you most excited about for Peachy Tales in 2016?
AA: Oh a lot of them to be honest! PeachyTales is almost like a baby to me, growing slowly but surely into a fine lady! Oh yes it is a girl haha. I am mostly excited about revealing the new website which will be later in May to celebrate my one year of blogging anniversary. Then to come along with it is my new personalized logo. So make sure you all follow PeachyTales for more exciting and amazing news as well as recipes. For now I can only tell this much!
FW: In your Egg-Free Mauritian Bread Pudding recipe, you put your personal twist on the traditional Mauritian method of making bread pudding. Tell us the next most recent personal spin that you have put on a traditional Mauritian recipe, and how/why your version of the dish was born.
AA: My most recent personal twist that I added to a very fondly classic Mauritian food was that of our Lentil Soup. I slightly modified it by combining Coconut milk which is quite unusual in the traditional way we make our Lentil Soup. Dal/Lentil soup plays a big part in our Mauritian food culture and is one of the most common food staple here. Also traditionally known as “Dal Lentille” or “Lentille Noire”, these kind of simple humble food is what bind us all really. The very idea of adding coconut milk to it was merely to break a little from the norm to make it more comforting and rich in flavours really. Also lately I am more into spicy food than anything. So it was just a moment of pure experimentation from the things I love most. I must reckon that it turned out to be a crowdpleaser and everybody was asking for more at home. So definitely a winner I guess here.
FW: You’ve mentioned that you tend more toward savory dishes than desserts when cooking. What is your favorite dessert (excluding ice cream) that does not require baking, and why? What is your favorite savory dish that does not require cooking, and why?
AA: I am more into savoury than desserts because we grew up in such a way that sugary things were considered bad for health. So from an early start, my parents were quite strict on sugary/desserts things. I guess that is why I am more inclined to making savory than sweets, however who doesn’t love a good dessert after a tiring day? Desserts are so heartwarming really. I guess my favourite dessert that doesn’t require much effort really is a glorious fruit tart or even chocolate tart topped with some raspberries and served chilled! Oh man, one bite and it’s almost like you are in heaven. Very easy to make and requires only a few ingredients and saves time as well. Plus, you can make it and keep it in the fridge anytime and it’s ready anytime you feel the little sugar rush craving inside you.
On the other hand, my one all the time favourite savoury dish that doesn’t require cooking can be none other than a vibrant Tuna Salad with Mayonnaise, Sweet Corns and lots of other crunchy ingredients toss and turn together into a baguette! Truly Mauritian really! There is so much you can do with a can tuna, which is sadly most of the time considered as an under rated food in the kitchen. It is full of good nutrients really and should be used more often.
FW: January was the first National Sunday Supper Month, with January 10th designated as National Sunday Supper Day. What made you want to join the Sunday Supper movement, and what has been the greatest benefit of your having joined?
AA: I first came across Sunday Supper movement on Twitter once and instantly grew keen on their regular chat sessions. Then one fine day , DB approached me and ask if I am willing to contribute to the movement. It was a YES from me on the spot because I really love what they do. It is like bringing a whole community together as a family and the good thing is that anyone from around the world can participate. The most beneficial part of this movement is that you get to know a lot more other food bloggers and which slowly turns out to be a family instead of a community. Also this helps a lot to expand yourself and also learn from others. It is actually so nice to be able to learn others rich cultural values and also I didn’t know there were different kinds of meals that were so common in different seasons of the year. Here in Mauritius we have only 2 seasons, summer and winter. And we eat anything anytime really! Haha
FW: Take us through what you feel would be the perfect day of restaurant/street food eating, drinking, and strolling throughout Mauritius. Beginning with breakfast and continuing onward to midnight snack, tell us where we would go, what we would do and see, and so on.
AA: Ok, so are you ready to have a magnificent journey with me? Hold on tight because I am about to make your taste buds dance with joy in a bit. I would say the perfect day on the Island ultimately starts at the beach. There is no doubt about this. To experience the typical Mauritian life I would suggest to start breakfast with the famous “Dal Puri” (Fluffy Light Flatbread stuffed with Yellow split peas) along with its best friend, a good glass of chilled Alouda (Milkshake topped with ice cream that comes in all sort of flavours). Then a little walk on the beach during the early hours of the day before the scorching sun gets on you. Obviously you would want to have a good swim because even I can’t resist the magnificent blue water of the sea here. And it sounds like it’s already time for lunch, I would look for doner kebab with some crunchy salad and chips on the side. And to wash all this down, a nice tropical fruit juice. You should really look for the doner kebab here, as the flavours are amazing. A little stroll in the village and a few local shops would really make the day even better. It is good to connect with the surroundings sometimes and get to be in the skin of the people around. If you are lucky enough, you might even get to have fresh coconut water to sip on at tea time. They are very common here and available almost everywhere around the island. Ahhh, now come the best bit, after a good tan and amazing heat, time for diner. I would really love to end this day by having some exotic Creole cuisine – typically Mauritian food. You know some King Prawns in Red Sauce or maybe Red Lobster Curry or even a Crab soup maybe. And to experience all these, I would recommend Flic En Flac, my absolute best place ever to be, though there are so many other places really around our little jewel island to stay and visit.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs, websites, or print/online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits?
AA: To be honest, PeachyTales is my very first blog and culinary journey really. I am still learning and growing a little at a time. And it is all about my passion for cooking, a tale of passion as if. However if I were given the chance to choose another name to all the beautiful experiences and milestones and also moments lived up ’til now with the culinary journey, it would definitely be something very tropical. Something a little more exotic and something a little more close to old times, the history of Mauritian Food and how It evolved with time. So probably something of the sort “Exotic Reminiscence.” I honestly can’t think of something else other than this really.
FW: When you aren’t cooking/eating delicious things, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
AA: Ahh, as ironically as it might sound, if I am not cooking or eating then I am definitely hooked in front of the Tv watching my favourite culinary shows! I love spending my free time watching and also learning more about cooking, food and also spices. It’s like an everlasting love which grows deeper and deeper each and every time. And currently I am so dreaming of a lunch date with Chef James Martin maybe? Haha!
Note to readers: Keep up with Anu’s PeachyTales at her website, or by following her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. There’s always something good to eat on display there, and if ever a food site could be called a love letter to Mauritian cuisine, PeachyTales is it.