Today we commemorate the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Mauritius after 182 long years of this horribly inhuman practice introduced under colonial rule of the Dutch, followed by the French and the British. Slaves, mainly of African descent, were brought to Mauritius to work in fields and construction sites where heavy manual labour was sought. In spite of its official abolition by the British government in 1807, it was not until 1835 that the shoddy business of human trade and exploitation was abandoned in favour of recruitment of indentured labourers from India. The post abolition period was also a time of considerable struggle for those given freedom but no support or resources to start life afresh and consequently fell back into poverty and deprivation.

On this special day many chose to visit the Le Morne Slave Route which traces the footsteps of our ancestors back in time and helps us better understand their plight as maroons as they fled from their merciless master to find refuge in the wilderness of Le Morne Brabant. They were then confined to subsist on meager reserves at the cost of freedom and dignity. In the memory of all those who fought and died to make their voices heard, I dedicate this blog post and the following recipe, riz frit poisson salé/ fried rice with salted fish, a local delicacy you can find in tuck shops and roadside snacks and probably derived from Creole cuisine, fashioned by slave descendants who went on to build and empower the generations of slave-free population who enjoy a far better life than their forefathers ever did.

RIZ FRIT POISSON SALE – FRIED RICE WITH SALTED FISH

Ingredients:

80g salted fish/ snoek

150g boneless chicken

100g corn kernels

100g carrots, diced

1 small onion, diced

100g peppers, diced

150g basmati rice, soaked

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon ginger paste

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 small bunch spring onion

Method:

  • Soak rice in cold water for 15 minutes, drain and cook in a pan of boiling water until firm but not mushy.

  • Soak salted fish in water to wash away most of the salt. Place in another pan of water and bring to the boil.

  • Cook the fish for about 8-10 minutes until softened. Drain well and remove fish bones. Flake fish coarsely.

  • If using precooked salted fish, remove from packaging and use directly without prior boiling and frying it.

  • In a frying pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil and add the ginger paste. Roast lightly until fragrant then add the fish.

  • Dice the chicken into bite-size pieces and season with salt and pepper. Leave it to marinate for 15 minutes.

  • While chicken marinates, prepare vegetables by dicing the carrots, onion and assorted bell peppers finely.

  • Beat eggs lightly and fry as for an omelette, cut it into strips and set aside. Now cook chicken in same pan.

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or a deep heavy based pan. Add the cooked rice, sauté for a minute or two.

  • Stir in chicken, salted fish, carrot, onion, corn kernels, peppers and eggs. Add the dark soy and fish sauce.

  • Stir fry for about 5-7 minutes, stirring at regular intervals, to prevent rice sticking at the bottom of the pan.

  • Cover pan for 2 minutes, then sprinkle with chopped spring onions and serve immediately. For 4 persons.

Fried Rice with Salted Fish

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