The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands off the coast of East Africa, located in the Indian Ocean. Expect to see lush tropical vegetation, exceptional cuisine, beautiful beaches and rare animals such as the giant Aldabra tortoise and a diverse show of marine life. The best-selling point however, is the Seychelles’ nickname, ‘The land of Perpetual Summer‘. Mix all this in with a passion for food adventures, and you are in for a treat if you visit!
However it’s Seychelles cuisine and Seychelles food that has us returning again and again to this stunning country, just as much as the beaches do. And that’s why we wanted to share exactly why Seychelles food shouldn’t be ignored.
Here’s our foodies guide to the Seychelles. Expect street food recommendations, culinary insights, insider tips and more! (Recommended: The Best Islands in the Seychelles).
A Melting Pot of Culinary Styles
Seychellois cuisine can be called fusion food due to the different people and ethnic groups that have inhabited the island throughout the history of this nation.
We are going to look at the different influences that have contributed to the interesting cuisine you will find during your adventures here!
The French first settled on the archipelago in 1770 with the aim of growing spices fuelled by slave labor such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and chillies to rival the growing Dutch trade. The French, their enterprise did not kick off, but the spices still grew wild in the hill slopes. Due to a lack of ovens, the French pot-roasted the meat that they had, and this was usually chicken, goat or beef. They also hung onions and garlic over a fireplace to rid the vegetables of insects.
On the other hand, preserving meat through salt curing and smoking was also done. Dried fish is one good example of the legacy left by the French. Modern Créole cooking terminology and methods in Seychelles food came from the French as well.
The African influence on the island is predominantly from the East Africans, Malagasy and Mozambicans. Their contribution ran parallel to that of the French due to their slave status at the time. They didn’t have the resources that the French had, and as such they had ‘poor food’. However, that didn’t stop them from having a significant impact on the culinary customs of the day, a legacy that has continues to have an imprint on Seychelles cuisine in the 21st century.
Fire cooking using stone trivets was the order of the day. The Africans would cut meat and fish into small pieces and mix it with vegetables like cassava or okra, creating stew like dishes. At times they would cook maize or sweet potatoes seasoned with various spices.
The Indians were brought to the Seychelles by Arab slave traders, and were sold to be used as labourers on the plantations.
A few notable introductions to Seychelles cuisine from this group were the following: eggplants, star fruit, turmeric, chutneys and spicy curries. There was also the gradual introduction of chilli cakes, and an addiction forming, fun crispy dessert called rice jalebies-moutay.
Chinese immigrants arrived on the island following the emancipation of the slaves in the 1850’s. They became a successful trading community and assimilated to the local customs quite smoothly. This integration with the locals introduced steamed foods, stir frys and grilling.
Over the course of time, this eclectic mix of different ingredients, cooking styles and flavours solidified and simply became known as Creole food.
Seychelles Street Food and Must-Try Dishes
Street food in the Seychelles is quick and inexpensive and something we believe you must try if visiting this country!
Seychelles Seafood Galore
As mentioned before, dried fish is something of a staple Seychelles food. Here it’s prepared days before and then added to a fish curry called ‘Roughy’ which has tomatoes, onions, garlic and chilli sauce in it. We recommend visiting the Victoria Fish Market, located in the capital city, to try out this delicacy.
Coconut crab curry is another popular Seychelles food, and is a fusion of Indian and Malagasy brilliance. Basmati rice, check. Mango chutney, check. Pickled vegetables, check. Warm spices, rich flavors, perfect crab in creamy coconut, triple check. It’s quite a common dish but very tasty, and is great for those who crave a spicy kick when travelling.
Or keep it simple and fresh with red snapper, jobfish, parrotfish, and octopus caught and grilled to provide an ocean-to-plate experience that locals enjoy daily. Ask the cook to serve yours with a fruit chutney or a dressing made from lemon, garlic and chillies with rice on the side to complete your day.
Other Seychelles Food and Dishes to Try
Les Roussettes, translated from French meaning “Flying Bats”, is a long-standing dish in Seychelles cuisine that is served in curry form or can be grilled. It is very typical to find Les Roussettes in street markets or fine restaurants.
Breadfruit is a big lumpy fruit that is part of the mulberry family and is often used for savory or sweet dishes in Seychelles cuisine. It has a texture similar to potatoes, is gluten free, rich in vitamins and carbohydrates. Traditionally, expect your host or the chef to place the fruit directly onto a fire until the skin is blackened but the insides are doughy. The aroma of the breadfruit when it is cooking is sweet and delicate. Once it is cooked through and ready for eating, peel away the skins, cut into cubes and slather on some butter for a delicious homely meal!
On the savoury side of things, ask around for breadfruit chips. The breadfruit skin is removed and the flesh is cut into french fries or thick fries and of course fried. Dusted with salt and it becomes a fun crispy snack for those relaxing walks on the beach.
A unique Seychelles dish that is light and easy on the hips is Satini, which is a seafood fruit salad. There is everything on the plate: papaya, seafood, lime, spices, turmeric, onions and apples just to name a few ingredients. All things balanced for good measure, and you can find it in almost all Creole restaurants.
Seychelles Slow Pot Roasts
This dish might be familiar to most of us. What might be different is the type of seasoning and the flavor profile that is used in Seychelles cuisine.
These stews are often spicy, although not as hot as curries, and are rich and flavorsome. However, because cattle are not reared in large numbers, beef pot roasts tend to be pricey so chicken and goat tend to be used by locals at home.
Remember that rice jalebies-moutay we mentioned earlier on? If you ever needed a delicious snack that made you feel like a kid all over again then this is it. It is something of a donut but made of ground rice flour batter and glazed with sugar. Simple delights make the heart content.
An interesting story behind this dessert is that, before piping bags were made, the locals would use a funnel made out of coconut shell with a hole for a bamboo stick to pour out the batter in spirals. The cook would place the batter into the coconut shell while the bamboo stick is plugged by his finger. Talk about necessity being the mother of all invention. The cook then releases their finger and guides the funnel to create a spiral shape to fry. But now they use piping bags of course.
Of late we have been hearing that sweet potato is the healthier cousin to the regular potato, but did you know that in Seychelles cuisine you can have it as a dessert? This is called Ladob Patat and it consists of sweet potatoes, coconut milk, nutmeg and vanilla. Three types of sweet potato are used – white, orange and purple – and are cooked on low simmering heat till the coconut milk is creamy and the potatoes soft. If you so desire you can have it with a grating of orange zest for extra fragrance and flavour.
Another fruity fact is that throughout the islands you can find at least 23 different varieties of bananas. Tiny bananas which can be eaten raw, to large plantains which are cooked to soothe your sweet tooth. Take for example, this treat from Constance Hotels and Resorts, one of the luxury hotels found on the island, of caramelized banana flan with chocolate syrup.
Seychelles Burgers and Fries
If your taste buds don’t have a wanderlust like your soul does, then you can grab a quick bite from the Urban Tiffin street kitchen, which serves familiar western style foods, like burgers and fries. A great option with their Mango Sorbet while you catch a tan.
Seychelles Cuisine: Places Where You Must Eat
Here is our pick of some of the best local places to eat if you want the best taste of the Seychelles that you can get!
Starfish Bar and Restaurant: At Acajou Beach Resort on Praslin Island is an exclusive place that is open to both visitors and in-house residents. Here they serve both local and international dishes.
The Copper Pot: Found on Mahe Island, The Copper Pot produces superb Indian and Asian style dishes.
Coco Rouge: This is a cool eatery for those on vegetarian or vegan diets. Their specialty is traditional Creole, but a bit greener.
Ray and Josh Cafe Takeaway: Situated in La Digue Island, this spot has an African influence on its gastronomy, with a twist in that it also caters to vegan and vegetarian options.
That All Sounds Tasty, But How Much is it Going to Cost?
The average cost of living in the Seychelles is relatively high for two reasons: Tourist hotspots globally have a higher cost of living compared to non-tourist places, and island nations have limited resources on their islands. For example the limited availability of beef products in the Seychelles, which can sometimes drive up food and other costs.
Therefore, before you board the plane, let us first draw up a budget. Based on previously collected data, here is a simple breakdown. The average daily cost per person in the Seychelles is $168. In one week for one person that cost goes up to $1165. If you are a couple, for the same amount of time that cost changes to $2330.
Hotels: one week stay for two adults, no children can be as cheap as $100 per night, to as high as $11,900 per night for the most expensive options on the island. Most hotels will include breakfast, but always make sure to check before booking.
Holiday Rentals: if you go for this option always book 3 to 6 months in advance. Prices can range from $50 – $1000 per night. Most are usually self-catering.
Transportation: Taxis are not cheap. Here is a website that can help you estimate costs. Another option is rental cars, but that can be costly as well. Public transport is always another option.
They use the Seychellois Rupee where the exchange rate of $1 is equal to around 13-14 SCR.
Do I need a visa?
US citizens do not require a Tourist Visa to enter the Seychelles. However, you must have a valid US passport to travel there.
Current Covid-19 Situation in Seychelles
At the moment, the Seychelles visitor travel advisory states that all travelers are welcome to the nation irrespective of their vaccination status, however they must have a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to travel. There will be no need to quarantine.
With all that said and done we wish you happy extensive foodie travels, for you, your soul and definitely your belly!