I’m still enjoying my memories of my last trip to the Seychelles! Fortunately, since I had a cooking class with celebrity Seychellois cuisine Chef Daniel Louis at the Four Seasons Seychelles, I have been feasting on some really gratifying Creole food as well. And so can you!
Below are two easy and flavourful recipes you can easily add to a lunch or dinner to spice it up.
The first is Creole Rice. I was served this with a Banana and Vegetable Curry, and I got a clear whiff of the lovely aroma of ghee! While much like an India pulao or pilaf, in this dish the combination of ginger, cinnamon and parsley enhanced by red peppers, makes for an unusual yet delicious combination. If you are looking for a new way to serve rice with any curry, this one works well! While Chef Daniel’s recipe called for precooked plain rice, I prefer one-pot dishes (makes cleaning so much easier!), and my adapted recipe has the rice cooking along with the spices.
The second recipe is for a Creole Papaya Salad. Usually when you think of Papaya Salad, Thai flavours come to mind. However, this salad is simple, just slightly spicy, but the combination of parsley and raw onions, gives it a totally different direction. The dressing calls for calamansi pulp and olive oil, with honey and sweet chilies. As there isn’t a calamansi in sight in Mumbai, I had to create a replacement. Fortunately, having grown up on calamansi juice in Manila, its tangy taste is well etched in my culinary memory. A good replacement is two parts lime juice to one part orange juice, sweetened with extra honey. If you can get calamansi juice or puree, do use the original!
½ cup Basmati rice
½ small onion, chopped fine
½” piece ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 pieces curry leaves
½ red bell pepper, chopped fine
¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon turmeric, ground
½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
2 tablespoons ghee
1 cup water
2 tablespoon parsley for garnish
- Soak Basmati rice in water for ½ hour.
- Heat ghee in a work or deep frying pan on medium heat. Add onion, ginger, garlic curry leaves, cloves and red pepper and stir for a minute, until onion becomes translucent.
- Drain rice and add to pan, along with cinnamon, salt, turmeric and black pepper.
- Bring rice to a boil. Slow to simmer and cover and cook for 20 minutes on low heat.
- Garnish with parsley and serve with Creole Banana Curry or Creole Prawn Curry.
- Serves: 4 (with other courses in an Creole meal.)
Serves: 4, as a side dish
Critical Ingredients: Cloves can easily be left out, and instead of cinnamon powder, you can use whole cinnamon. While ghee is not essential, it does add unique flavour. You can substitute it with sunflower or another neutral flavoured oil. If you have no parsley, thyme will add original Creole flavour too.
Creole Papaya Salad
½ a medium sized peeled and grated, (about 400g)
1 onion sliced thinly
1 tomato, seeds removed sliced thinly
½ a red pepper, sliced thinly
½ a green pepper, sliced thinly
4 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
1½ tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey Buy raw, organic, wild forest honey from Amazon.in
1 sweet chili, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
- Combine papaya, tomato, onion, peppers and 3 tablespoons parsley in a bowl.
- Use a food processor or blender to combine vinaigrette ingredients until you get a smooth emulsion.
- Pour dressing over salad, tossing well to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
- Garnish with remaining parsley.
Critical Ingredients: Raw papaya is, of course, necessary. If you don’t have a fresh sweet chili, add a quarter teaspoon of chili powder. The original recipe uses calamansi puree, which is not so easily available. If you do get it, you can replace the lime juice and orange juice with calamansi. I usually use cilantro when I am out of parsley, for a more Asian flavour.
Making a complete Creole dinner? Serve these dishes with Creole Banana and Eggplant Curry.