Fiji Foods : Flavors of Fiji
Planning a holiday to Fiji? Are you wondering about the food options available there? Don’t you worry. According to one of Lonely Planet’s many Fiji foods articles, Fiji is known to have some of the best food in the South Pacific. Fiji’s dishes are based on Indian, Southeast Asian and Chinese influences blended with Melanesian staples.
Now, you know what they say, “When in Rome do as the Romans do”. Here are 10 Fiji foods you must try on your holidays to the islands. And if your taste-buds tingle or tickle, do not haste. Eat heartily. Go get that second serve. After all, you’re eating Fijian food and you’re on Fiji Time! 🙂
10 Must-Try Fiji Foods
1) Cassava or Taro
Cassava is Fiji’s most cultivated and consumed staple crop. Followed closely by taro, sweet potato and yams. Steamed, pan fried, boiled or mashed, these palatable crops (or at least one) is served at each meal. Rice is also consumed largely in Fiji homes. These staples are also used in other recipes like the vakalavalava, the Fijian cassava cake.
The traditional method of cooking in Fiji was cooking meals underground. This is known as ‘lovo’, Fiji’s earth oven. Lovo draws out the juicy, succulent taste of the food and also preserves the food if stored well. Foods for the lovo include taro, cassava, fish, chicken, pork and palusami (taro leaves in coconut milk).
Fijian ceviche, ‘kok-ko-da’ in Fijian, is raw fish fillet marinated in lemon juice for around 4 hours (or overnight). This zesty dish is then served dipped in seasoned coconut milk. Now remember this is all fresh from the farm and sea. And if you fancy this exquisite dish, you can always try fellow momma Lolo’s kokoda recipe here.
4) Roti and Curry
Oh the pungent aroma of curry wafting through town at lunch hour. Hot, spicy, or mild? That is the question. (I kid.) I requested for mild and even mild was hot (maybe because I don’t eat a lot of spicy food). They serve curries of your choice of meat and also cater for vegetarians. The meal includes side dishes; vegetable of your choice, dhal and tamarind. That’s Fiji roti and curry for you.
Fiji’s restaurants serve both traditional and authentic seafood dishes. Fresh and frozen seafood are easily accessible in all towns; in markets, butcheries and at roadside stalls. Boiled fish accompanied by miti (seasoned coconut milk). Crab suruwa (crab curry cooked in coconut milk). Nama (sea grapes) with a light canned tuna. The variety of seafood cuisine is endless.
Qalu /Vakalolo is a Fijian desert. We prepare qalu by grating taro (some use cassava), and flavor it with sugar and coconut milk. Syrupy, rich, fresh and simply divine!
7) Lolo Buns
There’s nothing quite like the taste of Fijian coconut buns. Soft, springy buns cooked (or baked) in coconut milk. You can have these buns for breakfast and they are perfect for your afternoon teas. And if you’re craving for some right now, you can find my good friend Luse’s heavenly lolo buns recipe here.
8) Fresh Fruits
Fiji gets to enjoy seasonal fruits all year round. Fruits range from mangoes, pawpaws, passion-fruits, cocoa, bananas and more. Buy your fruits from the market or roadside stalls. They may also sell cool, fresh drinks blended with the local fruits.
Rourou is the Fijian name for taro leaves. If you’re feasting with a lovo, try the palusami; taro leaves drenched with coconut milk. It may also include beef. Rourou also make scrumptious patties, freshly cooked with any-meat meals and also serves as a side dish.
Kai is the name for Fiji’s freshwater mussels. This is my favorite. Well, everyone has a favorite, so I might as well include mine. 😉 Wash, clean, and boil mussels with sliced shallots and tomatoes and season with salt. Remove mussels from shells and place them in a bowl. Strain water from cooking pot into another pot. Boil for another minute then throw in de-seeded (or not) red chilies. Pour boiled mussel water into bowl of mussel and enjoy with favorite staple and steamed greens.
This is my list of 10 must-try Fiji foods. There are many other lush Fijian delicacies of which I am sure you will enjoy as you explore the sights, sounds and flavors of Fiji.