The culinary tradition of Reunion Island dates back to the days of the first African slaves! They brought with them their ancestral knowledge. Then the settlers making it increasingly urgent as to the development of the Island, Chinese and Hindus arrived in their turn. From this flowed a rich gastronomy of diversity. Taste allied with chili was in harmony with the tropical climate causing no harm to the taste buds at all. This culinary art has been transmitted generation after generation, a simple base, always being modified and adapted has made a unique culinary style. Yet, there is one thing you need to know, the Reunionese dishes are not eaten anyhow!
A small ritual you will notice they follow is that rice is placed at the bottom of the plate, the grains are added on top and finally topped with the dish. The chutneys & pickles are served in a separate dishes.
Come taste the different dishes that Réunion Island has to offer! Here is our top 12 list:
1. Dumplings and Snacks
You will have to choose from a plethora of snacks and dumplings. From the bouchon to the samoussa and the bonbon piments, you won’t know where to start! If you have the courage to, try them all, you won’t be deceived.
The Macarons of Reunion island is a pure bliss! We recommend you to taste the caramel salted butter one which you will surely find in St. Pierre. Its taste is life changing!
3. Chickens BBQ
You will find improvised barbecues almost at each street corner, where you can buy delicious crispy chicken to take away or eat on the run. Also called “Chickens Bitum” or “Road Chickens”, you surely guessed where they got their name. Do not hesitate a second, you will love it!
Almost all the cheese from the island are imported. Once you have spent 2 euros for a share of French camembert, you will be convinced that the aircraft are blessed by the gods. One thing you should try is trying to mix tropical cheese with cheese – Its great!
5. The dodo
This local beer from “Brasseries de Bourbon” refers to the dodo, for obvious reasons. It is sold in small bottles similar to that of a cough syrup and it’s the perfect drink after, for example, having jumped 12 meters high and landed in the river. (If you are an adventurer at heart and that you go to Reunion, try doing as much activities as you can, you will not regret!)
6. Chayote Gratin
The chayote is a South African-born vegetable. It is part of the Cucurbitaceae family and has the same texture as a zucchini. You will find it all over the island, but it is even better when it is stewed in a white sauce and cheese, which is then browned in an oven.
7. Carambole and other tropical fruits
This beautiful star-shaped fruit is tart, juicy and tastes of grapefruit and plum. It is one of the many delicious and juicy fruits available on the island. Depending on when you are visiting Reunion, you will come across various tropical fruits such as litchis, dragon eye fruit, mangoes and many more.
The rougail is a delicious spicy sauce that you find on the side of most dishes and that will conquer your palate. It is slightly bitter, slightly salty, but very spicy. It can be made based on a multitude of ingredients (mango, lemon or tomato) and looks a bit like the lime pickles. The rougail can sometimes have meat too as base, so don’t be surprised.
9. Gateaux Patate Douce
This is one special dessert you will find on the island of Reunion. Made from sweet potatoes, this delicious cake is a must taste. It’s perfect to have with some tea after a nice swim in the pool of your hotel.
Rum can be infused with pineapple, lychee, cinnamon, or even orchid flowers and you will have it, in general, as digestive at the end of dinner. This is dangerously delicious.
The first time you will taste a ti’punch, you will have the impression the bartender was wrong. Not everyone is used to drink pure rum. But at the end of the week, we are convinced that you will drink the ti’punch like ti’lait .
Something you should taste in Reunion island is swordfish with vanilla sauce at Maison de la Vanille. It is, as they say, the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship. Vanilla must gain back the place it deserves: it should be enthroned beside the salt or olive oil in your kitchen. You will realise that mingling it with savory or sweet dishes. It will indeed be delightful!
Enjoy your culinary trip around Reunion Island!