A trip to Mauritius Island would be incomplete without a gap of gluttony with its famous salted appetizers or ‘gajak’. These savories are mainly composed of a large varieties of deep-fried fritters but there are also the samosa and the famous “gato pima.” Always served warm, a gajak have to be tasted dipping in a good hot chili sauce. The gajaks, along with a nice cold local beer, are a must for a successful drink with friends.
The most famous savory is the ‘gato pima’ or chili cake, a croquette of crushed dahl and fresh spices (and fresh chili), which is fry for a few minutes in hot frying oil. Although its shape changes from a shop to another, it remains similar to the oriental falafels. They can be eaten as a snack or can complete a fast meal like stuffed in a local round bread or in a rougaille, both succulent.
For the fritters, you have the choice between ‘gato Bringel’ (eggplant fritter), baja (plain fritter), the ‘du pain fri’ (bread donut), ‘gato pom de ter’ (potato fritters) and others . They all have in common a liquid dough base, made with white flour or chickpea flour and spices, in which are soaked the slices of vegetables and bread before being throw into the frying wok.
The gajaks will also make your tongue travel, thanks to our ancestors who brought in their luggage some delicious recipes. The samosa, which came from India, is a fried wrapped pastry filled with vegetables. The hakien, a fried spring roll with vegetables or meat, is inspired by the Chinese cuisine.
Less commun in the North, but so tasty, the ‘gato arouille’ is our favorite. It’s composed of grated taro bulb, fresh ginger, cornstarch and salt. These taro croquette are deep-fried like the other goodies and accompanied by a delicious chutney of ‘pomme d’amour’ (sauce of fresh local tomatoes).
We, Mauritian, are so fond of these gajak that they are sold all over the island, most often in small caravans and small stalls or in a glass box in the back of some street vendor’s bicycles or motorcycles.
If you stay in one of our beautiful location, these appetizers will be available in many places in the North of the island. Public beaches are hosting a lot of vendors who sell them, at the public beach in Grand Bay where they are delicious and varied. You can also find the gajaks near the bus stations such as Goodlands station or Gare du Nord in Port-Louis, or in the fruits and vegetables markets.
Even though they are delicious, these “gato deluile” or deep-fry goodies are highly caloric and are therefore to be eaten with moderation. The healthiest alternative you can find would undoubtedly be candied fruit (in vinegar) or raw seasonal fruits. They are sold all over the island. You will find green mangoes or half-ripe ones, pineapple, fruit ‘citerre’, Chinese potato, cucumber and many other topped with some tasty tamarind sauce and chili salt.
Just to think about all of these makes our mouth watering! Have a nice and tasty trip.