Today marks the 48th anniversary of Mauritius as a free country. Successively colonized by the Dutch [1638-1710], The French [1710-1810] and the British [1810-1968], our country gained its independence after a long struggle by members of the Mauritian Labour Party, Comité D’Action Musulman and Independent Forward Bloc. In 1992, it went on to be proclaimed as a republic state and now stands as the proud result of the hard work of our forefathers and the dedicated effort of the subsequent generations, known internationally as the ‘Star & Key of the Indian Ocean’.
Along with the people of Mauritius, the national day is equally celebrated by residents of Rodrigues, Agaléga, Saint Brandon, Tromelin and the Chagos Archipelagos, all part of our outer island territories in spite of the existing dispute between Mauritius and The United Kingdom over the sovereignty of Diego Garcia. Rodrigues, our well known sister island, is famous for its dried octopus, pickled lemon and chilies, kidney beans as well as its sweet treats.
The Tourte de Rodrigues is one you cannot miss as it is ever-present in market fairs and PME cooperative society sales. Filled with tropical fruits like papaya, pineapple or mango cooked in sugar to, jam-like consistency, the tourte may well have been a corruption of the French tarte during the period of French colonization. Today, anyone can buy the pastry at leisure from a local Rodriguan stall but it is just as easy to bake at home from simple, everyday ingredients.
TOURTE DE RODRIGUES
For the Dough
200 g all purpose flour
115 g unsalted butter, cold
Pinch of baking powder
1 egg yolk, room temperature
For the Filling
1 small firm, ripe papaya
1 small coconut, grated
150 g unrefined sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sift flour and baking powder together. Cut butter into cubes, rub into flour until crumb-like in texture.
- Add egg yolk and knead lightly. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, about 5 mm thickness.
- Press half of the dough into a 7-inch pie dish. Trim any excess and refrigerate pie crust for few minutes.
- Prepare filling by peeling the papaya. Remove seeds, cut into cubes and place fruit in a heavy saucepan.
- Add sugar and cook until the mixture browns and thickens considerably. Remove from heat and cool.
- Add coconut and vanilla, mix well. When mixture cools down, spread uniformly over prepared dough.
- Roll out a 7-inch dish from the remaining dough and use it to cover the filling and seal the edges well.
- Decorate the pie with the remaining dough trimmings and brush the top with egg or milk for glazing.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180 oC for 30 to 40 minutes until the crust turns golden brown in colour.
- Allow the tourte to come to room temperature before slicing to serve. Makes about 8 regular servings.
Tourte de Rodrigues