Beignets are one of the most popular starters in Creole cuisine. Brought to Mauritius by the French, beignets made their way into the creole cuisine and became a staple starter that you are offered in almost every restaurant and house. In classic French cuisine, this pastry is made from leavened dough (either by brewer's yeast or eggs) that is deep fried either as is, or used as a casing to cover meats, vegetables or fruits (kind of like a dense batter). Beignet can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes.
In creole cuisine, and in both the sweet and savoury versions, beignet is usually made as a casing for a filling. The filling can be anything, however more traditionally encasing a seafood or vegetable filling for savoury and bananas or plantains for sweet. The sweet filled beignets are then dressed with heaps of icing sugar, while the savoury ones are usually served with a choice of green chili dip, sweet chili sauce or coconut chutney. With that said, the Mauritians have 2 versions of the beignet. One that is dense and creates a thick layer over the filling (see the photo above), and another one that is thinned and creates a crunchy thin layer over the filling (see the photo below). While each one has its unique eating experience, both versions are delicious. In the creole version instead of the fresh brewer's yeast, the cooks use cold beer and have therefore omitted the milk from the recipe. This makes it easy to replicate even if you do not have access to brewers' yeast.
Beignets are an excellent way to start a meal as the heat from the dipping sauce against the comfort of the dough matched with the slight crunch from the filling is a very delectable way to kick start your appetite. Not only that, but they are also a fabulous option for pass around cocktail parties. Line them up on a long plate, sprinkle with finely chopped parsley, place a flower at one end of the plate and a bowl of sweet chili dip on the other end. Voila, you have yourself an elegant and delicious pass around cocktail nibble. It is super easy to make, very delicious and will impress even the fussiest eaters :)
|Fresh large Shrimps|
12 Large Prawns, shelled keeping the tip of the tail in tact and deveined
Vegetable oil for deep frying
For the beignet paste
200 g self-raising flour
A pinch of black pepper
1/2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
leaves from 1 spring fresh thyme
200 ml cold beer (can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic beer)
1 whole egg
1 egg separated reserving both yolks and whites
Once shelled and deveined, quickly rinse the shrimps with cold water and pat dry them.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, black pepper, finely chopped parsley and fresh thyme leaves. Add the whole egg and the extra egg yolk as well as the beer and mix well until you achieve a batter with no lumps.
In a separate bowl, beat the remaining egg white into soft peeks and gently fold it into the batter.
|Working in small batches Dip the shrimps in the batter and fry them immediately in hot oil|
Heat the frying oil.
Working in batches and holding the shrimps by the tails, dip them into the batter to coat then deep fry them immediately. Drain them on absorbent paper.
Transfer to a serving dish, and serve them immediately with a side of green chili sauce for dip.
Hope that you have enjoyed reading this post and that you are becoming more eager to visit Mauritius and adventure a little more with their food. To make sure you do, I have brought back small tasters of Mauritius as giveaways for you to try. The Pack of Assorted Spices (photo right) is one of these giveaways, which will allow you to carry out the Mauritius creole recipes I am posting here. Click this link for instructions on how to enter the draw and hopefully win this giveaway.
Do let me know what types of food are you more likely to eat when traveling? Do you like to try the destination's authentic cuisine or are you more into playing it safe and eating the foods you are more accustomed to? Do you like to try street foods? I love nothing more than hearing from you, so don't shy away, and leave me a comment before you go.
Come back again soon for more,
Till then master the beignets, you will be happy you did ;)