The Island Kitchen: Recipes from Mauritius and the Indian Ocean, written by Selina Periampillai, is filled with 80 recipes, beautiful photography, and stories highlighting the incredible cuisine of Mauritius and surrounding islands in the Indian Ocean. A few notable dishes include Bol Renversé (Sunny-Side-Up Egg, Chicken & Pak Choi Rice Bowl from Mauritius), Pork Loin Glazed with Honey & Lime from Rodrigues, Ginger & Herb Grilled Red Snapper from Seychelles, Gratin de Chou Chou (Pumpkin & Chou Chou Gratin from Réunion), and Salady Voankazo (Tropical Fruit Salad with Vanilla Syrup from Madagascar). I will also be sharing her recipe for Mkatra Foutra (Sesame Coconut Flatbreads) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a PDF copy of this book from Bloomsbury in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Selina Periampillai is a London-based self taught chef “inspired by her Mauritian heritage and the moreish home cooking of her parents and family.” She developed her brand Taste Mauritius in 2012, has hosted supper clubs, holds a variety of pop-up events, caters for corporate events, and teaches cooking classes. Her work has also been featured in Air Mauritius, Jamie Oliver.Com, BBC Good Food magazine, and more. This is her first cookbook.
The Island Kitchen
The chapters are divided according to the following: Meat, Fish and Seafood, Vegetables and Sides, Snacks and Street Food, Chutneys and Pickles, Desserts, and Drinks. Each chapter has a list of the included recipes and a short introduction.
Selina begins with how her memories have inspired her love for the islands of Mauritius, Madagascar, Réunion, Rodrigues, Seychelles, the Maldives, Comoros and Mayotte and their accompanying flavors. Many recipes in this book come from her family or are inspired by her travels. For those unfamiliar with the cuisine, she has included a helpful guide to the Indian Ocean kitchen with descriptions and uses of notable vegetables, fruit, herbs & spices, and pulses & grains. You will also find an introduction to each island with an illustrated map, history, and the shaping of its cuisine.
The beautiful photography is provided by Yuki Sugiura with illustrations by Sarah Greeno. Most of the recipes are accompanied by a half to full-page photo of the finished dish. There are even a handful of step-by-step photos to demonstrate specific techniques such as cracking a coconut, cutting a pineapple, and folding samosas. Titles are listed in English with Creole or the original language written underneath alongside the island origin. Each recipe includes a headnote with background information, personal stories, serving size, prep, and cooking time. Measurements are in Metric.
The Island Kitchen is a great pick for those interested in the cuisine of Mauritius and surrounding islands. There is such an incredible variety of recipes from snacks and vegetables to meat, seafood, desserts, and drinks. Selina has adapted them as needed for the British home kitchen. She even put together helpful menu plans for specific islands along with vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, barbecue, picnic, and speedy weekday suppers ideas.
Many of the ingredients are available in larger American grocery stores, but a few will require further searching such as rosewater, Thai red chillies, nigella seeds, tamarind paste, curry leaves, breadfruit, saffron, cardamom pods, dark soy sauce, and fenugreek seeds. For those in the UK, Selina has also included a list of online suppliers.
Mkatra Foutra (Sesame Coconut Flatbreads)
Mkatra Foutra are Comorian Sesame Coconut Flatbreads with Arab-African origins. The yeast-based dough with coconut milk, flour, and egg comes together easily and has a batter-like consistency. After resting for an hour to rise, two to three tablespoons of the thick batter are placed in a lightly oiled pan and cooked until golden, about 3-4 minutes. The top is covered in sesame seeds, then the bread is flipped to brown the other side for another 3-4 minutes.
Serve the flatbreads immediately with a drizzle of honey and alongside strong Arabic coffee. Selina mentions you can also combine sweet and savory by pairing them with a vegetable curry.
I personally found that lightly coating a large spoon in oil helps keep the dough from sticking when transferring to the pan and shaping into an even circle.
While the Mkatra Foutra are best warm from the pan, they will keep for 1-2 days in an airtight container.
I also made Rougaille Saucisse (Sausages in Spicy Tomato Sauce), Vary Amin’ny Voanio (Malagasy Coconut Rice), Bouchons (Pork Dumplings with Soy Ginger Dip), and Cardamom Chai.
The Rougaille Saucisse from Réunion is definitely one of my favorites and it doesn’t take too much prep work! Pieces of smoked or herb sausages are simmered in a spiced tomato sauce with onion, thyme, chillies, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and paprika to create a perfect pairing with rice.
Vary Amin’ny Voanio is a coconut rice dish common in the coastal areas of Madagascar. Soaked basmati rice is simmered in coconut milk and cinnamon until tender, then gently mixed with crisp onions and curry leaves. Selina recommends serving it with Sticky Chicken with Garlic & Ginger.
Bouchons (Pork Dumplings with Soy Ginger Dip) is another delicious recipe from Réunion. This popular snack was introduced to the island by Chinese immigrants from the Canton region. The pork-filled dumplings are flavored with spring onions, kaffir lime leaves, soy sauce, ginger, and chilli flakes, then steamed until cooked through. I especially love the accompanying soy ginger dipping sauce.
The incredibly fragrant Cardamom Chai (All Islands) pairs black tea with a combination of cinnamon, fennel, vanilla, whole milk, ands sugar. Selina states, “It’s also a tradition at my dad’s family home in Ecroignard on the east coast of Mauritius to welcome every guest with a cup of chai upon arrival, something that relaxes you instantly and makes you feel at home.”
Mkatra Foutra (Sesame Coconut Flatbreads) Recipe
Excerpt from The Island Kitchen
Mkatra Foutra (Sesame Coconut Flatbreads)
- 1 sachet (7g) fast-acting yeast
- 400 grams plain flour
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 medium egg beaten
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Honey to serve
- In a large bowl, mix the yeast with 2 tablespoons warm water and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Add the flour, sugar, salt and beaten egg to the mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the coconut milk and mix well with a spatula until it is a batter-like consistency.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest for 1 hour in a warm place.
- Once the bread mix is ready, set a medium frying pan or crêpe pan over a medium heat. Spread 1⁄2 teaspoon of the butter or oil on the base, using a piece of kitchen paper, to lubricate the pan. Once the butter has melted, scoop out 2–3 heaped tablespoons of the thick batter and plop onto the surface of the pan (it may be quite sticky). You should be able to get ten small flatbreads out of the mixture.
- Using the back of the tablespoon, make the batter into a circular shape. It doesn’t matter if they are not perfectly round. For each one of the breads, sprinkle 1⁄2 teaspoon sesame seeds on the top and press lightly. Cook for 3–4 minutes per side, until it has risen to about 1cm high and is golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve immediately, drizzled with honey or with a cup of coffee.
- These flatbreads keep for 1–2 days in an airtight container, but are best eaten fresh.