Seychelles consists of a beautiful collection of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, just off the coast of Kenya, and Tanzania. These islands have been home to anyone with a boat at some stage or another; the British, French, Portuguese, Chinese. This makes for a rich ancestral history as well as interesting and diverse cuisine. The islanders, due to the isolation of the Seychelles, have to stay autonomous. This is another wonderful feature of Seychellois (pronounced Seychelle-wah) cooking, as fruit and vegetables are fresh, mammoth in size due to the tropical climate and healthy. I am not joking about the proportions either. Whilst Keith and I were visiting, we often used to compare the dimensions of food to the size of my head. Seafood and coconuts as expected are in abundance, but meat is treated as a weekend treat rather than an everyday meal.
The supermarkets are an experience. We popped in to source some bread, ham and cheese to make sandwiches for our hiking excursions and were greeted with refrigerators full of processed cheese and shelves of nappies. Seychellois do not food shop how we do. Instead Saturday is market day and you have to wake early for the best picks. The stalls are bursting with a luscious array of rainbow coloured fruits, vegetable and herbs. Eye popping arrangements of seafood are set out for the locals to choose from; crabs, snapper, and octopus.
Below is the recipe for Octopus Curry. This dish is to the Seychellois, what potatoes are to an Irish man! Octopus isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, as when cooked incorrectly it has a reputation for being chewy. I’m also sure that “Paul the Octopus” of world cup fame has not helped its image, by personifying octopuses. However, if you like squid…octopus isn’t that much different. Also, as we say in most of our recipes you can substitute Paul for squid, scallops or clams.
- 1 Octopus (Our 8 legged friend was 650g)
- 1 Medium onion, sliced
- 3 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 Thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Groundnut oil
- 300ml Light coconut milk.
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 1/4 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp Basil Leaves (alternatively used Cinnamon Leaves instead of the ground cinnamon and Basil)
- 1 tsp Chilli flakes
- 1 tsp Brown sugar
- Beat the (poor) octopus, to make sure it is dead and tenderise. Give him a good wash.
- Cook the octopus in salt water for 2-3 minutes until it becomes tender.
- Leave it to cool in cold water
- Cut the octopus into pieces and set aside
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and lightly fry the sliced onions
- Add the turmeric, cumin and the octopus and continue to cook for about 5 mins
- Add the coconut milk, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, chilli, brown sugar and basil
- Season with salt and pepper and simmer gently for 20 minutes
Serve with rice and a zesty side salad.