A Mauritian Christmas Dinner
It's that time of year again where in the UK we are wrapping up in coats to bare the chill however on the tropical island of Mauritius everyone is gearing up for a hot Summer.
Christmas on the island is celebrated with family gatherings centered around tables of food laden with curries, bbq fish or meats, accompanied with chutneys or cooling tropical salads.
Inspiration from the recipe below comes from Taste Mauritius’s take on the British Christmas roast dinner. Here chef Selina Periampillai revelled in cooking up a masala curried roast chicken accompanied with a traditional take on a kitchari (meaning a blend of ingredients) and what it is essentially brown lentils cooked with rice, dressed with fried onions and flavourful spices from the island.
If you're looking for a Mauritian inspired dinner this Christmas this is the one, have it with chilli chutneys or pickles on the side for a hearty meal to share with friends or family. Delicious!
And do follow Taste Mauritius on Twitter for more mouth-watering recipes and inspiration.
Serves 4-6 people
Masala Roast Chicken
• 1.8kg chicken
For the spiced butter:
• 100g salted butter, slightly soft
• 1 tbsp ground coriander
• ½ tbsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp hot chilli powder
• 1 tsp garam masala
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp ground cloves
• 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• ½ tsp ground turmeric
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1cm piece ginger, peeled and grated
Mix the butter well with all the spices, garlic and ginger. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Make sure the chicken is at room temperature before cooking, carefully make a pocket underneath the skin of the breast by slipping your fingers in between the skin and the flesh.
Spread the spiced butter underneath the skin, down over the legs, thighs and breast on both sides. Spread the remaining butter on top of the skin and sprinkle with salt. Place on a roasting tray.
Roast the chicken for one hour and 10 minutes, basting every so often with the juices. When it is cooked cover the chicken with a double layer of foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving with the cooking juices and kitchari rice.
• 150ml vegetable oil
• 4 medium onions, thinly sliced
• 250g brown lentils
• 200g basmati rice
• 2 tsp cumin seeds
• ½ tsp ground turmeric
• 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
• 1½ tbsp coriander seeds
• 1 tsp sugar
• Salt and black pepper
• 350ml water
Heat the vegetable oil in a medium-size heavy-based saucepan. When hot, add all of the sliced onions. Fry for five minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until the onion goes crispy and golden. Set aside.
Meanwhile, put the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the lentils have softened.
Wipe clean the saucepan and add in the cumin and coriander seeds. Place over a medium heat and toast the seeds until they release those aromas. Add the rice, 1 tbsp of olive oil, turmeric, cinnamon, sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Stir to coat the rice with oil, then add the cooked lentils and water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat, lift off the lid and cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Finally tip the rice and lentils into a bowl and mix in with the fried onions. Taste for seasoning and serve up with the roast chicken.