Seychelles: Food and Drink

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Everyone focuses so much on the natural beauty of Seychelles that they often forget to mention the delicious cuisine. Food and drink in Seychelles is a pleasure, from superb seafood to perfectly ripe tropical fruits. Seychelles restaurants are often small family businesses with home-cooked flavours and a mellow ambiance. Since Seychellois come from a number of different backgrounds, Indian, Chinese, French, and English cooking traditions find their way into local kitchens. Creole-style cooking is predominant, however. On small islands dominated by one or two resorts, visitors tend to be a captive dining audience. Luckily, most establishments hire excellent international chefs who make the most of fresh, local ingredients as well as imported foods.

Seychellois are raised on fresh fish, and not surprisingly, it appears frequently on virtually every menu, from humble take-away's to posh resort restaurants. Amongst the best-tasting choices is red snapper – it's called bourzwa in Creole, although the French spelling, bourgeois, is often used on menus. The white-fleshed job fish – in Creole, zob – is also delicious. Steaks from larger fish are usually available, in particular tuna. Other excellent fish steaks come from kingfish and karang (also known as trevally or carangue). Red or green fish curries as well as fish stews are ubiquitous, as is a mound of rice to sop up the sauce. Breadfruit, with its nutty potato flavour, is also a common side dish. Other popular types of Seychelles seafood are local mussels, prawns, and small white shellfish called tec-tecs. If you try nothing else, sample tender Seychelles octopus – it's terrific in a starter salad or as the basis for a main-course, coconut-milk curry.

Seychelles tables always include a dish of chilli sauce, and it's not for the faint of tongue: the little Seychelles chillies pack serious punch, even for those who like flaming' hot food. Chatini or chutney is a popular variety of condiment featuring vinegary, thin-sliced fruits and vegetables.

Nearly all restaurants have a few pork, beef, lamb or chicken dishes on offer. Meat is usually imported, so you won't be eating locally if you order these items. For adventurous sorts, try fruit bat meat, which tastes a bit like lamb. (Finally, something that doesn't taste like chicken!). Dessert is usually ice cream or fruit salad made from papayas, passion-fruits and other fresh-picked tropical treats. You'll also find coconut cake and caramelized bananas. The local Seychelles beers, Ecu and Seybrew, go down easy on humid days. Guinness is also widely available – strangely enough, perhaps. Fanta and Orangeade are the sodas of choice. Seychelles also produces a coconut liqueur.

Self-caterers in Seychelles will find a large supermarket on Mahé, as well as a good bakery and butcher-shop close to Victoria's bus station. The traditional Creole market in Victoria is also a good place to stock up. Outside of Mahé, self-caterers in Seychelles will be provisioning themselves at small corner groceries. Gregoire's on La Digue is particularly good. Staples like bread, eggs, milk, soda, beer, rice, flour, onions, garlic, butter, packaged goods and the odd vegetable are usually easy to find. Roadside stands with fresh fish and fruits are worth a look-see, but remember that if you buy a fish, you'll have to scale and filet it!