For this article, we worked together with Fabienne, from the blog A la recherche du pain perdu to present you our top 10 dishes you absolutely have to try in Reunion island.
1 . Samosas
Fabienne – As per their name, you can guess that samosas are actually from India. But they were adopted and customized for the locals. The reunionese samosas are smaller and have so many different kind of stuffing : beef, chicken, cheese, veggies, char siew… and even sweet ones.
One samosas costs between 0.30 € to 0.50 €.
I personnally like the ones from the chinese stall “Je suis ici” in Saint Jacques street in St Denis. That’s also one of Taste Reunion’s favorite places : check here for the full blog post.
You can also find tasteful samosas near the beach at some food trucks.
Fabienne – French people from mainland can get confused by its name. The “bouchon” is actually a steamed snack (like a dim sum) stuffed with pork and veggies. It is one of our local street food. The best one can be found on the seaside, in a small tray, with soya sauce and/or ketchup and/or chili sauce.
One popular meal for the teenagers : “american” bouchon sandwich (bouchons, french fries, cheese and bread)
Audrey and David’s suggestions :
– the CHAN FAT butchery in St-Benoit
– the PICHAN store in St-Benoit
– « Je suis ici » in St-Denis
– Bouchons Ah Moye in St Pierre
3. “Salade palmiste”
Audrey & David – Some years ago, this was a pretty rare dish. Now some particular species of palm-kernel can be ready to be consummed in “only” 5 years. The “salade palmiste” is the heart of a palm-kernel cut in very thin slices, mixed with vinegar sauce (and sometine homemade mayonnaise)
Chain restaurants called Cap Méchant are famous for this dish here. If you are looking for the higher quality red palm-kernel, we suggest you go to family owned restaurants (“tables d’hôtes”) or the Dina Morgabine Hotel in La Saline.
4. Cabri massalé
Fabienne – It’s a traditional dish for the Indian community in Reunion. The “cabri” is the name for goat in creole language. The meat is cooked with onions and spices, including the “massalé”. It’s a mixed powder of coriander, cumin, curry, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and hot chilli. But each family has its own (secret) recipe !
Besides, you can find some massalé in all our local markets and stores and bring home for souvenirs.
5. Bol renversé (upside down bowl)
Audrey & David – It’s a Chinese dish you can find only in Reunion or in Mauritius island (isn’t it ?) Take a big bowl, first put a fried egg, then add meat, shrimps, mushrooms, sautéed veggies, and finish with the rice. Cover the bowl with a plate and turn the whole thing upside down : it’s ready !
Between 8,50 € and 12 €.
We like the bol renversé from Chez Paul, in St-Paul and La Barquette, in St-Denis !
6. Carri volaille
Fabienne – A typical Reunionese meal is always made of : white rice, beans (lentils, beans or big peas) and some meat, which is cooked in a specific way : the carri.
The recipe is simple, it’s always the same sauce : cook some onions, garlic, tomatoes and finish with the spices (tumeric, thyme) and finally the meat.
You can use it with chicken, pork, fish, octopus, lobster, shrimps…
If you are lucky (and wealthy) you can try the carri bichique. Bichique is the creole word for small young fishes. They live near the mouths of the rivers. They are quite rare and hard to catch, hence kind of pricey. We eat them sometimes during Christmas holidays. You can also find cheaper ones in the frozen food department in supermarkets … but they are obiouvsly less tasty.
I personnaly had carri bichiques only once in my life !
7. Ti jacques boucané
Fabienne – This cari is made of a particular asian fruit called jackfruit. It’s like a big ball, with a thick shell and some yellow cloves inside. When it’s mature, it kind of stinks. For the cari, we use it while it’s still green, chop it and cook it with some smoked pork belly. Yummy !
Audrey & David – The macatia is a small, slightly sweet, round shaped bread, sold in every local bakery. It has different flavour : chocolate, banana, or just plain (the best !). You can have it with some butter and/or jam.
For the record, the macatia was invented in St Gilles. Not by the famous Loulou, as we could think, but at the Ti Louis bakery , whose descendants opened another bakery in Cilaos.
Fabienne – I have to make an intervention here ! It is commonly said that Ti Louis was the father of the macatia but rumors in my family, say that it would be my grand mother who inspired this bread to my grand father. My grand father was called “Soucou” and was indeed working regularly with Ti Louis back in the fifities. Had to get the truth about the whole story, but for sure, the macatia from Soucou was famous and delicious !
Audrey & David – In any way, we really like and recommend the macatias from the Manciet bakery in St-Pierre.
9. Gâteau patate (sweet potato cake)
Audrey & David – That’s maybe the most famous typical cake here. You have maybe bought some in the local markets. Get the ones from Mrs Malet at the St Pierre local market on saturday mornings. It is made of smashed sweet potato and vanilla beans and also have different flavours (chocolate, banana…). Our favorite is gateau patate with green papaya jam. We might give you our recipe one day !
10. Rougail saucisse
Fabienne – It is surely the most famous dish and like the culinary emblem for Reunion island. It is worth it because it’s so delicious !
And if you want to know more about it, you are lucky, Audrey and David made a short video of their recipe for the rougail saucisse : here.
Hope this post got you hungry and willing to take a culinary tour in Reunion island !