If you are thinking of leaving the colder northern hemisphere, in winter and seeking out a voyage of food, sun and sea, I have just the place for you. The island of Mauritius. A cultural little nugget, off the coast of west Africa.
In the hope of igniting a spark of creative inspiration for my second cookbook, I booked a trip out there to explore their ambiguous Creole cuisine, tropical beaches and lush rainforests, armed with a girlfriend, a plethora of sarongs and enough bikinis to shame VS model.
Anticipating little more than a week of eating curry and drinking local sugar cane rum, I soon discovered that the island had a lot more to offer. Between hotel hopping (first it was Four Seasons, then LUX and finally Shanti Maurice) I got involved in a coffee roasting masterclass, a handful of cooking sessions and treated myself to a few spa treatments… all the stress of island life wreaks havoc on one’s shoulders.
I found the local food out there a real marriage of some of the best parts of fresh, Indian and African cuisine. This classic dish, Gateau Piment being one such favourite. Usually I am adverse to fried food, but on occasions, in the interest of my tastebuds and general life enjoyment, theres no harm in a little nibble of something a little less virtuous now and then. So definitely give these a go! They make a great filling for lettuce wraps, or can be served as a pre-dinner nibble with a cooling yoghurt dip.
Try out the coconut salsa in my cookbook The Naked Diet, for a lovely accompaniment.
Makes 12 approx – Serves 2-4
- 2 cups yellow split peas, soaked for 6-8 hours minimum
- 1 tsp ground cumin powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves, chopped finely
- 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 spring onion, finely sliced
- 1/2-1 teaspoon fresh chilli, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- sunflower oil, for frying
Soak the yellow split peas for minimum 6 hours in cold water, with a pinch of salt
Grind the split peas to a rough paste, either on a board, in a pestle and mortar, or in a grinder.
Add the split peas to a large bowl, with the spices, salt and herbs. Mix well, then leave to rest for half an hour.
Pre heat a large pan with sunflower oil over a high flame. It needs to reach about 350 degrees F/ 170 degrees C
Once the mixture has rested, shape into patties, about the size of a meatball.
Test to se if the oil is hot by placing a tiny ball of the mixture in the pan. If it fizzles, it is ready.
Add the patties, in batches of 4-6 depending on the size of your pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes, turning them over halfway through cooking.
Drain on absorbent paper and leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving