Eating Our Way Through The Seychelles

Ilet Saint-Pierre

Well, well, well. Even the best things come to an end, and here we are, back in Paris! This was a fantastic vacation: a perfect mix of discovering the islands, their breathtaking landscapes and incredible fauna and flora, snorkeling, resting on perfect beaches, and enjoying the delicious local food.

There is definitely something to be said about extremely fresh seafood, prepared with care, eaten in the company of the love of your life, while seated at a shaded terrace with a view on the deep blue sea, a light refreshing breeze brushing your face.

So, what’s Seychelles cuisine like, you ask?

We mostly followed the really good restaurant recommendations of our guidebook, and ate at small family-owned restaurants, with very friendly service. We also took advice from local people we chatted with. We were lucky enough to stay at hotels which, in addition to comfortable clean rooms with terraces overlooking the sea, offered excellent food. Two of the restaurants we tried were so great we went back twice : Oganibar, in the Baie St-Anne on Praslin, owned and operated by a man from the Seychelles and his wife from Switzerland; and Sundown, at Port Glaud on Mahé, where we would gladly have spent the whole afternoon, marveling at the perfect view on the Islette lagoon.

Restaurants do serve meat-based dishes (lamb, chicken, pork), but the meat is not locally bred (apart from some of the chicken: we did have close encounters with flocks of clucking animals on our bike rides through the island of La Digue). But the best of their dishes revolve around fish and shellfish, and as we are big fans of the gifts of the sea, that’s what we went for most of the time.

Seafood can be served grilled — with or without a butter-based sauce — or it can be served in spicy cari preparations (green or red curry). The curry sauce often involves lait de coco (coconut milk) and the ubiquitous citronnelle (lemongrass). We had crab and octopus — of a tenderness I’d never experienced before — and a host of different types of fish: the moistest rabbit fish (cordonnier), parrot fish (poisson perroquet), mullet (rouget), ballan wrasse (vieille)… We liked to think we might have met some of them while scuba diving!

Besides fish, we also tasted a great local specialty: bat meat! They have big bats called roussettes that you can spot, flying from tree to tree, when night falls. Some restaurants have it permanently on the menu, but others require you to order it in advance, as they have to get someone to hunt them for you. We had it twice: once prepared en civet (stewed with vegetables) at Oganibar, and once as a cari at Sundown. We enjoyed it very much. The meat is full of little bones, a bit like frogs’ legs, so you need to fight a little, but we like that. It is tightly knit like duck meat, and has a gamy yet subtle flavor that reminded us of lamb. We also loved the adventurous thrill of eating Batman’s little helpers.

{Edit: One of the two bat species that live in the Seychelles is critically endangered, not because people eat them, but because they’re insectivorous and pesticides that find their way into the insects they eat. The bats served at restaurants are the fruit-eating kind, and their population is stable.}

Dishes are served with long-grain white rice, plain or spiced or saffron-flavored, and soft white bread in square slices, baguette slices, or little loaves — they don’t seem to have any other kind. We were also occasionally served bread slices spread with garlic butter. Garlic bread, Seychelles-style!

Another accompaniment was what they call chatini, a condiment served cold, made with thinly sliced marinated vegetables or fruit, cooked or raw: eggplant, cucumber, cabbage, papaya, mango or giraumon, a local type of pumpkin. The name brings chutney to mind, but chatini is not as sweet as Indian chutney, and is more vinegary too.

Lemongrass is used in food, but also to make infusions, and after dinner you are offered tea, coffee or citronnelle. I am ordinarily not a big fan, as it reminds me of mosquito repellent lotion, but I enjoyed it there.

On the sweet front, we were served a variety of fruit for breakfast or dessert. Our favorites were the very cute mini-bananas, half the size of a regular banana, but the same diameter (contrary to the baby bananas we get in Paris, which are also half the diameter) and incredibly flavorful. We also had mango, pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, paw-paw (papaya) and carambole (starfruit).

They make the best jams with the bananas, papaya and starfruit. The owner of Oganibar explained to me that Seychelles jam recipes have you cook the sugar till almost scorched before you add the fruit in, which accounts for their delicious caramelized taste.

Other desserts include bananas or papaya in caramel and cream sauce, bread pudding with custard, coconut or banana tarts, delicious coconut sorbet, and a mean coconut nougat.

As it was pretty warm, we usually drank still or sparkling water, which they call soda. They also serve very good freshly squeezed fruit juice. We enjoyed the local coconut liquor, called Coco d’amour. The bottle is shaped like a coco-fesse, a coconut shaped exactly like a pair of buttocks that’s unique to the Seychelles and is said to have aphrodisiac virtues.

All in all, it was a fantastic gastronomical experience, and I will definitely try to reproduce some of the dishes we had. Bats may be a little hard to come by around here, but I’ll ask around.

Coming up next: a post about the food market in Victoria, the capital city!

  • sylvie

    C’est chouette de retrouver ta chronique !
    Les poissons, fruits de mer, fruits tout court, tout cela devait être délicieux ! Et tu pourras te vanter pendant longtemps d’avoir mangé des chauve-souris !(tu en as pris en photo ?)
    Bisous

  • Céline

    Coucou soeurette !

    bien contente que vous soyez rentrés, toi et ton blog! Vous m’avez manqué! :-)

    Et tout cela met l’eau (de mer) à la bouche… (hi hi…)

    Gros bisous
    Céline.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Maman – oui, on s’est régalé! Par contre, je n’ai pas pris de photos des chauve-souris!

    Céline – c’est gentil, moi aussi j’ai bien pensé à toi!

    Bisous à toutes les deux…

  • Nassim

    Si un jour ton blog s’implante aux Seychelles je te suggère le nom suivant:
    http://www.coco-fesses&chauve-souris.com

    Il faut vite déposer le nom car si la ligue de protection des oiseaux reçoit des nouvelles de ce Batmanicide ca risque de barder!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Nass – excellente suggestion! :) Sérieusement, je suis surprise que cocofesse.com soit encore libre, ça sonne trop bien, non?

  • http://www.frog-gras.org Blue

    Clotilde,

    It sounds like you had a wonderful vacation. I did not have bat meat anywhere, nor anything anyone had to hunt for, but it sounds like something I would try, too.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Blue – Most of the people we told about the bat had but one reaction : wrinkled nose, puckered mouth, “yuck”. Apparently most people think of bats as no better than flying rats. It’s funny, because Maxence and I seem completely immune to that! And in any case, I’m all for trying anything that comes my way. I would eat bugs and snakes given half the opportunity!

  • http://www.twohotchefs.blogspot.com mystie

    Hey this sounds like an amazing trip thanks for sharing your experience you rule ;) MySTiE

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Mystie – *sigh* yes, that was a really fantastic vacation. In passing, I’m really happy I documented all this, otherwise I’d have long forgotten about the details!

  • kirsteen

    Hi I absolutely love what you said about Seychelles cuisine! I am a student/resident there myself and enjoy the local food immensely. Most seychellois youngsters dont appreciate the beauty of the creole cuisine and spend their time eating fastfood. I hope you come back to our petite islands soon.

    cheers,
    kirsteen.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Kirsteen – Thanks a lot for your comment, I just love the idea that someone in the Seychelles is reading my website! And boy, count on us to be back one of these days, we just had the grandest time on your “petite islands”! (Love the expression!)

  • herve

    hi,

    I’m a lover of these seychelles Island ( been 6 time on holidays).

    There is a dessert who is magic
    ” Coconuts nougat”.
    If you have the recette,
    I’ll be very happy to receive it.

    Thank
    ( Hervé from France)

  • patsy

    I am so happy that you guys enjoyed the beautiful blend of creole cuisine in the Seychelles. i am a young lady from Seychelles who enjoys preparing creole food and uploading creole recipes on the internet…

    i have uploaded a few recipes on a site called Group recipe….my user name is Goutcreole!!!

    i will try to upload the nougat banane recipe later!!!

    merci

    bisous et soleil des Seychelles

  • alison

    Hi!
    I can’t wait to go to Seychelles! I’ve been doing a French assignment on the islands and it sounds like a truly amazing place! (As I’m still at school, it will be a little while until I can go! But, still, I’m excited!)

  • http://blog.sabrinagiacometti.com/ Orchidea

    Hi,
    We came back 3 weeks ago from our honeymoon in Seychelles…fantastic time we had there and the food was good.
    We staied in Praslin all the time and visited some neighbour islands.
    Have you tested banana and coconut nougat? This was one of my favorite dessert there but I cannot find any recipe… do you have any idea how to make it?
    Thanks.

    Ciao,
    Orchidea

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      That sounds lovely indeed. I’ve never had anything like it and can’t help with the recipe, but best of luck in your search!

Planning a trip to Paris?
Eat Your Books Recipe Index

Instagrams

Get the newsletter

Receive a free monthly email with a digest of recent entries, plus exclusive inspiration and special announcements. You can also choose to be notified of every new post.