A tropical island is synonymous with abundance, it brings to mind visions of fertile, green forests filled with trees full of fruit, surrounded by pristine white sandy beaches and an azure blue sea. In the Seychelles this is not a dream and the fruits from the trees are unlike those from any other place. Take a bite and one will wish to stay forever…and if one cannot do that, one can always take recipes home.
Raw or cooked, endless options!
Most visitors to the Seychelles islands tend to focus on the cooked food, they come to sample an array of the local cuisine and these do not disappoint. Recipes that have been handed down across generations produce some of the best dishes in the culinary world. Some recipes never make it to a cookbook but rather, are carefully guarded family secrets, so a home cooked meal is a jackpot for the taste buds. The fruits are used in several dishes but rarely will there be only one recipe for the dish. No one fruit is used for a specific dish but rather for a variety of dishes. A good example is the banana, which is used in cake, fried, fried in batter, baked, stewed, and cooked in various other styles.
On a tropical island where one can walk around safely while experiencing the island life, a free fruit wouldn’t be amiss and in Seychelles, one can actually pick fruits hanging from roadside trees or ask the friendly locals for fruits from their trees. The choice is yours; have it raw or wait to sample it in a truly delicious Creole dish.
What’s your favourite?
There are a variety of fruits that one can choose from according to when it’s in season. Those that are readily available are different types of mangoes, breadfruit, coconut, melon, a variety of bananas, pawpaw, pineapple, different citrus fruits, avocado, passion fruit, golden apple, star fruit, jamalac, local apples, rambutan, jackfruit, and grapefruit. If your favourite is on the list and you are in Seychelles, when can you get it? They are found everywhere on the island, from those sold in the supermarkets to those sold at the small local fruit stalls that are scattered along the coastal roads. The prices range from reasonable to free, reasonable when bought and free when you pick the fruits off a tree yourself.
The islands have many trees growing in the wild but there are also a few places where the fruit trees are the the Pride of the Place. On the island of Mahe, places to visit have to be the Botanical Gardens at Mont Fleuri, the Jardin du Roi at Anse Royale and the Biodiversity Centre of Barbarons. On Praslin the place to visit would be the Valle de Mai and on La Digue, the Veuve Nature Reserve. A visit to these exotic places would immerse one in a world that leaves an imprint of what it means to live the island life and would convince any person that they had truly wandered into the Garden of Eden. Take a bite out of that local apple and you will want to stay, much like Adam and Eve wanted to stay.
Ready and waiting
The good thing about the Seychelles is that certain fruits are in season all year around so there is NEVER a scarcity of coconut, all varieties of bananas, passion fruit, or pawpaw. A visitor will never be disappointed should they wish to sample some of the local produce.
Interestingly, if the fruits are not available all year around, they will be in season twice a year. Such as the different types of mangoes, breadfruit, all the citrus fruits, pineapple, golden apple, and the grapefruit. February to April and September to November are the two lushest periods of the year. Red, yellow and orange can be seen through the otherwise green canopy. These are the times when most of the local fruits will ripen and branches will hang low. It is when the trees smell wonderfully sweet and the ground is soon covered with the fruits that animals got to before humans did. It is a wonderful time when one feels inspired to break out in song.
Only in Seychelles
Keep in mind that some of the fruits will only be found in Seychelles, these are of the coconut family. The coco-de-mer, the “palmist” and the
“pti koko maron” are endemic to the islands. The coco-de-mer has become a symbol for the country, so much so that it is used as the passport stamp that authenticates a visit to the islands. Its tree has a unique nut that most would agree closely resembles the shape of a woman’s bottom. At first sight it is known to bring a smile to the faces of visitors. The coco-de-mer unfortunately is not to be tampered with, they are a protected species and it is against the law to have any. The “palmist” however is considered
to be a delicacy, its salad is a frequent dish on the menu for auspicious feasts and is referred to as the “millionaire’s salad”. Very rare is the wedding with no palmist! The “pti koko maron” is food for birds and insects, do not try those.
Savour the taste
It has been proven that the location of a land mass produces unique soil, from this point of view, wouldn’t it be safe to assume that the taste of the local fruit could not be replicated anywhere else? Relish the taste of the local produce while it lasts, you may take recipes home but they won’t taste the same.
YEARLY FRUIT SEASON IN THE SEYCHELLES
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Local Apple, Jamalac, Pineapple
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Star fruit, Avocado, Local Apple, Rambutan, Jamalac, Breadfruit.
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Star fruit, Avocado, Rambutan, Different Mangoes, Breadfruit, Golden Apple.
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Avocado, Rambutan, Different Mangoes, Citrus fruits, Breadfruit, Golden Apple.
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Grapefruit, Different Mangoes, Citrus fruits, Breadfruit, Golden Apple.
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Star fruit, Grapefruit, Citrus fruits.
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Starfruit.
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Melon, Golden Apple.
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Grapefruit, Different Mangoes, Citrus fruits, Pineapple, Golen Apple.
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Jackfruit, Grapefruit, Different Mangoes, Citrus fruits, Breadfruit, Pineapple.
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Jackfruit, Different Mangoes, Breadfruit, Pineapple.
Banana, Coconuts, Passionfruit, Pawpaw, Local Apple, Jamalac, Pineapple.
Papayas is good for you
Papaya fruit or pawpaw is packed with numerous health benefiting nutrients and digestive, and medicinal properties. Papaya tree is grown extensively all over the tropical regions and cultivated for its fruits and latex papain, an enzyme that is used in food industry.
Papayas which are pear-shaped fruits is said to ripen when it feels soft to thumb pressure, and its skin has attained an amber to orange hue.
There are numerous black seeds inside and the flesh is orange in color with either yellow or pink hues, soft in consistency and has a deliciously sweet, musky taste with rich flavor.
The papaya fruit is very low in calories and contains no cholesterol; however, is a rich source of phyto-nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. It contains soft, easily digestible flesh with a good amount of soluble dietary fiber that helps to have normal bowel movements; thereby reducing constipation. It’s fresh, ripe fruit is one of the fruits with the highest vitamin-C more than that of oranges and lemons. Research studies have shown that vitamin C has many important functions like free radicals scavenging, immune booster, and anti-inflammatory actions.
It is also an excellent source Vitamin Awhich is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for visual sight. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties; help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes. Papaya fruit is also rich in many essential B-complex vitamins such as Folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and play a vital role in metabolism.
Fresh papaya also contains a good amount of potassium and calcium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids and helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure countering effects of sodium.
Papaya has been proven natural remedy for many ailments. In traditional medicine, papaya seeds are anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, and analgesic, and they are used to treat stomachache and ringworm infections.
Harvest and storage
Papaya is usually harvested when it shows signs of maturity; evident as skin slightly turning to yellow. Organic papayas generally left to ripen on the tree; however, care should be taken since over-ripen fruits actually fall off themselves and spoiled.
Unripe green papaya is cooked as a vegetable in many Asian, African and Pacific regions. However, the fruit should not be eaten raw as it contains toxic alkaloids in its milky latex.
Praparation and serving methods
Wash papaya fruit thoroughly in cold running water to remove dust and any pesticide residues. Skin is bitter in taste and inedible. Remove skin with “peeling knife,” cut the fruit longitudinally into two equal halves. Gently remove seeds and thin slimy layer loosely adhering to the flesh. Cut the fruit longitudinally like melon or cut into small cubes.
Here are some serving tips:
Ripe papaya fruit is usually eaten raw with a twist of lemon drops.
Fresh papaya cubes are a great addition to fruit salads.
Papaya juice with ice cubes is a popular drink.
Its cubes are used in ice creams, shakes, sorbets, salsa, etc.
Ripe fruit also goes well with chicken and seafood savory dishes.
Unripe green papaya can be used as a vegetable, either cooked, usually in stews, stir-fry, curries, and soups.
Papayas contain white milk like latex substance, which can cause irritation to skin and provoke allergic reaction in some sensitized persons. Ripe papaya fruit can be safely used by pregnant women. Unripe, green papaya should be avoided in them since it contains a lot of papain, a proteolytic enzyme that used commercially to tenderize meat. In addition, ripe-papaya fruit, seeds, latex, and leaves also contain carpaine, an alkaloid which could be dangerous when eaten in high doses.