What and where to eat in Seychelles

Creole cuisine is defined by breadfruit, seafood and tropical flavours. (Photo courtesy: Ennio Maffei)
Creole cuisine is defined by breadfruit, seafood and tropical flavours. (Photo courtesy: Ennio Maffei)


From exotic fruit chutneys to samosas and spice-laden curries, the East African nation offers a delightful mix of foods that draw heavily from Indian influences

An old plantation-style bungalow houses the popular Marie Antoinette Restaurant in Mahé, the largest island in Seychelles. Set on a lush hillside, overlooking the capital city of Victoria, this family-run place is believed to be an institution. Arguably so, given that it’s one of the oldest restaurants on the islands dating back to the 1970s, offering a taste of Creole cuisine showcasing the traditional dishes of the archipelago. Hot, balmy weather and the lack of air conditioning notwithstanding, I relish unassuming plates, from a refreshingly tangy mango salad to octopus curry, rice, smoked fish and breadfruit croquettes. Other tables around me are laden with similar Creole food, using recipes that have remained unchanged at this family-run restaurant.

Seychelles boasts of a strong culinary repertoire, with flavours spanning Indian, African, French and Chinese influences, that have combined over the years to make up Creole, or more definitively, Seychellois Creole cuisine.

The first settlers to inhabit the islands were the French, who arrived at the turn of the eighteenth century, bringing their culinary skills with them. Later, Indians brought with them a love for piquant curries and lentils, the Chinese influenced the cuisine with rice and noodles, while the Africans introduced ingredients like cassava, plantain, breadfruit and coconut milk, that has led to the birth of Creole cuisine as it is known today. Visit any local Creole restaurant and you’ll find a smattering of staples like spice-laden curries, fragrant lentils and rice, fruit chutneys, samosas, pork noodles, rougail saucisse (sausage stew) and vegetable fritters. The Creole curry, for instance, is quite similar to its Indian cousin, featuring spices like cumin, turmeric, nutmeg and in some cases, saffron as well. Chutneys are made fresh everyday and are unlike the ones we know and relish in India. For instance, most chutneys feature grated fruit, which are then marinated in spices or oil, rather than being ground into a thick paste like the Indian version. Papaya chutney or pawpaw satini as it is locally called, can be paired with curries on the side, and other popular options include coconut, aubergine or pumpkin chutney. If you’re up for it, try sampling local delicacies such as shark chutney that is not for the faint of heart. It is made as a specialty dish by just a handful of restaurants, including Marie Antoinette.

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Octopus and Indian spices feature prominently in Creole cuisine.
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Octopus and Indian spices feature prominently in Creole cuisine.

Flavours of the tropics

To get a true sense of the flavours of the island nation, take a stroll through Victoria’s Sir Selwyn-Clarke Market, which offers a vibrant display of exotic fruits, vegetables and other local produce. The area around the market is a maze of narrow winding lanes, packed with artsy shops, boutiques, and stores selling everything from spices to souvenirs. Make a pit-stop at any of the local vendors where you can enjoy a quick meal of fish and chips or ladob banan (banana in coconut milk) that’s flavoured with spices.

At Maison Marengo, a family-run Creole restaurant housed in a colonial-era home in Mahé, the sounds of the ocean and salty sea breeze make for the perfect company. Here, I savour a meal of mildly-spiced chicken curry, piping hot aubergine fritters, blackened tuna steak, prawn kebabs and cassava pudding with coconut ice cream. Coco Rouge and Cafe des Arts on Praslin Island are other popular joints frequented by locals. A trip to Seychelles would be incomplete without a visit to La Plaine St. André, an iconic heritage site that is also home to the Takamaka Rum Distillery, which is the only commercial producer and exporter of rum on the islands. After a guided tour and tasting, head to the food truck and rum shack on the premises to enjoy boozy drinks paired with classic Creole grills and bar bites.

Beyond the ordinary

While most tourists like to stay within the confines of their luxury resorts and enjoy an all-inclusive experience, especially sticking to the hotel buffet, the islands are best experienced through local culinary gems. Born and brought up in Mahé, well known chef Colvin Beaudoin is hoping to change the notion that most resorts skew towards the Western, globally-evolved palate. There is a lot more to Creole cuisine than curries and tangy salads, he says. His fine dining restaurant, Maison Des Épices, at the newly-opened Waldorf Astoria Seychelles Platte Island, offers a fusion of modern Creole food, where the menu is anchored in flavours from his childhood. Some dishes that he has given his signature twist include the classic salted fish, lobster plo (pulao) with pumpkin chutney, grilled reef fish, turmeric toast and an assortment of condiments such as breadfruit and coconut sauce, curry leaf pesto, and papaya and tamarind sauce.

So, if you book that holiday to Seychelles, it would be worth your while to explore the many culinary charms it has to offer. Beyond the seafood-heavy fare, the island country has a vast range of dishes to savour and a surprising number of vegetarian options as well.

Arzoo Dina is a Mumbai-based food and travel writer.

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