Friday, January 15, 2010

Attempting Mauritian Cooking: Part 1

I have a cookbook I bought when we were on our honeymoon in August last year. We went to Mauritius, a teeny, tiny island off the east coast of Africa. My husband's parents are Mauritian, and I wanted to try and recreate some of the yummy food he grew up eating here in Australia, so as soon as we found a bookshop, I purchased a Mauritian cookbook to bring home. Mauritian Delights by Lalita Sookhee seemed to be the best one, with over 300 recipes and a simple, easy to follow style. I took a look at the imprint page and saw that it had been reprinted five times and figured that was a pretty good sign

So, this book had been lingering in our cookbook cupboard for nearly six months and this week I dragged it out, determined to make something. When we were in Bordeaux in 2008, we wandered around a food and wine festival they were having in the city centre and sat down at the Martinique stand to eat dinner. They served a meal called Rougaille Saucisses, which is basically sausages in a tomato sauce. It. Was. Delicious. And the recipe for Rougaille was in my Mauritian cookbook and seemed relatively simple, so I gave it a go.


1/2 kg sausages (any kind will do - I used lamb with tomato and basil for a bit of extra flavour)
Salt and pepper to season
About 3 or 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Thyme and parsley, chopped (although in this instance I had no Thyme, so I just added some basil instead)
400grams of chopped tomatoes (I used a tin instead of fresh ones)
2 green chillies
1 or 2 cups of frozen peas, thawed
Rice, to serve ( I used about 1 1/2 cups)

Total prep and cooking time: about 45 minutes.


Chop up the onion, taking plenty of breaks to wipe the tears that are shooting out of your eyes. Chopping onions is HARD WORK when you can't see them.

Chop up the chillies as thin as you can. DO NOT rub your eyes while you are fiddling with the chillies - trust me on this one.

Chop up the parsley and basil and mix it with the chopped chilli.

Fill a medium to large saucepan with water and boil. When water is bubbling, throw the sausages in and let them boil for about 5 minutes. Drain and season the sausages with salt and pepper.

Heat a large frypan with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. Put the sausages in to fry for a few minutes, until the are slightly browned on the outside and cooked all the way through. Do not pay attention to the dirty stove top.

Once they are cooked, put them on a plate to drain the excess oil and cut them into pieces. Set aside for now.

In the same oil you fried the sausages in (You're thinking ew, recycling oil? No, it adds flavour, trust me), fry the onions until slightly transparent (or until you think they looked cooked enough, which is what I do).

Add the "other" ingredients (no really, this is what the book said. I told you it was simple!) - basically just chuck everything else in, except the sausages.


Now leave it on a medium to low heat to simmer for a while so that it thickens up - I think I left it for about 10 minutes, but stirred it occasionally.

Note that at this point you will need a couple of minutes to clean up frozen peas off the floor and thaw some fresh ones in the microwave. It's a minor setback, yes, but you can totally overcome it.

Add the sausages and about half a glass of water (this is also when I added the peas), and leave it to keep simmering for about another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.


In the meantime, cook up the rice. I use a handy dandy Breville rice cooker because I do not have the genetic make up to cook rice without burning it, and the Breville works a treat.

When the sausages look/taste done, remove it from the heat. Serve on a bed of rice and garnish it if you can be bothered.

Et Voila!

Chef's notes: 

- I think next time I will use at least 700grams of tomatoes. The sauce didn't thicken up as much as I would have liked and seemed to evaporate a bit by the end. I would also consider adding a bit of tomato paste to help it thicken up.
- I only used about 500grams of sausages, which is about 5 or 6 of them because there were only two of us eating. I kept all the other quantities as listed above, but I added a bit more garlic because life can never have too much garlic in it, I say.
- The flavours were not as distinctly Mauritian as I had hoped. Husband says next time to use a teaspoon or two of crushed ginger to see if that helps.

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Anonymous said...

Husband wants to clarify that Mauritius is actually off the EAST coast of Africa and yes is still alive after eating this lovely meal! :)



rajiv said...

There is an Award Winning Mauritius Bar Restaurant in Norbuty London SW16 4DS, or facebook mauritiusbar.
Check it out

Rani said...

Hello, does anyone know where I can buy the cookery book mauritian delight by lalita sookhee.
I live in England and have lost mine.