The unusual fruits of Mauritius
Mauritius enjoys an abundance of bright and colourful tropical fruits, from the paw paw and pineapple to the pomegranate and pamplemousse, or grapefruit. But plenty of less well-known fruits of Mauritius are worth seeking out too, including some of our favourites below…
The corossol, otherwise known as the soursop or custard apple in English, comes from the Anona muricata tree, native to South American and African forests. The fruit is from the same family as the paw paw, with a flesh some say tastes like a blend of strawberry and pineapple. Used in alternative and herbal medicine for centuries, corossol supplements can often be found in health food shops and may have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Mauritian banane zinzli, or dwarf bananas, are an especially flavourful variety of small banana; particularly tasty when eaten after ripening on the tree. The trees are also particularly well-suited to growing indoors at home, providing you have access to a lot of sun.
The tropical longan tree produces a small translucent fruit encased within a firm, crispy outer layer. Once shelled, the fruit resembles a peeled grape, but a large, black inner seed explains why it also goes by the nickname ‘Dragon’s Eye’. In recent years, this ancient fruit has been hailed as a superfood, due to its high levels of iron, magnesium, potassium and phosporus. But we just love them for their juicy, succulent texture and subtle sweetness.
It’s the jamalac in French, zamalac in French-based Creole, Love Apple in English or a variety of other names in the rest of the world, including the champoo in Thai and the makopa in the Phillipines. Whatever you call it, this bell-shaped fruit resembles a shiny red apple, but the similarities end there as once cut open the flesh is more like that of a watermelon. In Indian Ocean cuisine, you’ll often find the jamalac used in salads and lightly fried dishes.
Multiple spelling variations exist for this tropical fruit also known as the damson plum or Portuguese plum. The large red berries turn from green to a deep glossy purple-black as they mature, and have been used in various non-Western healing systems such as Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine to control blood sugar levels, especially when taken as a tea.