I thought a dip in Indian ocean would be a nice way to start 2017! I have already written about the cuisine of Mauritius and more recently. As an island, it is the perfect place to discover fish and seafood, its situation on the spice routes and the rainbow nation with Asian, Indian, South African, European and even Australian influences all add to the diversity of the cuisine here.
Willibald Reinbacher, (Willi to his friends), has been the chef at the Shanti Maurice Hotel since 2010 at about the time we discovered the Ayurveda Spa there. Originally from Austria and now married to a Mauritian, he has made the island his home.
I was already impressed by the way he incorporated the Ayurveda theme of healthy eating into his cuisine, using local ingredients and Indian spices to create dishes that you would never guess were part of a healthy eating programme. He has been sharing this cuisine not only in the restaurants of the hotel but also taking guests to the local markets and inviting them into the hotel herb garden and kitchen.
His skills and familiarity with the regional culture and cuisine, not just of Mauritius but also across the islands of the Indian Ocean, have increased his repertoire. So much so that he has curated his favourite recipes from across the Indian Ocean into a new book: Aquacasia.
The ocean theme is at its heart, hence the name. The spectacular photos, especially the underwater ones, are an inspiration. The warm Indian Ocean is teaming with fish, each island having a different variation on the same recipes for their local species. Given that you may have over indulged during the festive season, the recipes based on seafood are healthy. Langoustines with Vanilla and Prawns on Sugarcane Skewers are a couple of my favourites.
It’s not only seafood though; the wonderful chapter on spices is a showcase for all the Asian influence so present on the island and given that Mauritius is tropical the local fruits and of course Rums are also featured in the desserts chapter.
It is at once a recipe book with easy to follow recipes, a coffee table book with beautiful photos and either an invitation to visit Mauritius or, if you have been lucky enough to visit, a souvenir of your stay.
He doesn’t reveal the secret to his amazing Rum Baba though; you’ll just have to join me at The Shanti for that!