Oh, deep joy! It’s summer at last and I think I have found my cookbook of the year …and it’s still only July! Every page offers sunshine in delicious fashion and wafts one off to a tropical paradise. The Island Kitchen: Recipes from Mauritius and the Indian Ocean by Selina Periampillai is a winner.
I have recently returned from a trip to Mauritius so perhaps the glow of that experience is shaping my positive opinion of this book, but I am sure it’s the delightful recipes and the mellow spicing which I find so attractive.
Insights into culinary traditions
Selina takes the reader on a culinary tour around the Indian Ocean islands, covering Mauritius, the Seychelles, the Maldives, Mayotte and lush Madagascar. She was born in London but is of Mauritian descent so is well placed to offer insights into culinary traditions, but with practical knowledge of the constraints of the European kitchen.
There are 80 tempting recipes in The Island Kitchen cookbook, and I will be working my way through all of them. They are simple yet sophisticated. There is nothing over-cheffy but the dishes work as smart dinner party fare or as part of casual meals. These plates are flexible and a little bit different. The influence of Indian cuisine is marked but there is sometimes an additional ingredient: thyme features in some recipes and I have never come across that in purely Indian cookbooks.
Pork Glazed with Honey and Thyme is one of my many favourite recipes here. This would make a rather beautiful departure from the usual Sunday roast and it isn’t spicy but rather sweet from both honey and cinnamon, with a little herby flavour from the thyme.
I am very much taken with Mauritian Fried Rice with Vegetables. It gets its spice from chilli and garlic cloves and its salty seasoning from soy and fish sauces. The host of veggies in this recipe make it healthy and economic. Carrots, green beans and cabbage are used, but one could substitute others – although that would likely mean it’s not as authentic.
Dhal Puris from Mauritius are addictive! They are streetfood at its finest, with vendors having devoted followers who won’t eat these flatbreads from any other stall. Happy to have the recipe so I can make them at home. Yes, it takes a little practice to roll and fry these delights but it’s worth the effort.
Perfect dinner party pud
Selina Periampillai has included several exotic desserts that are simple and enticing. Mango and Lime Tarte Tatin is a perfect dinner party pud when one can find some good ripe mangos. Use quality ready-made all-butter puff pastry for this one. Selina suggests serving this with natural yoghurt, but one could also use some crème fraiche.
The Island Kitchen: Recipes from Mauritius and the Indian Ocean is a delightful book with easy-to-follow instructions for some unique dishes. The author presents plates not found in other books so it would be a wonderful gift for any cookbook collector. Selina Periampillai has an engaging style which will give confidence even to a novice home cook.
The Island Kitchen: Recipes from Mauritius and the Indian Ocean
Author: Selina Periampillai
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing