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Unique Foods In Fiji
Tourists visiting the Fiji Islands can try out the wide range of flavours available in the region's diverse cuisine, which is characterised by unique presentation, ingredients, and cooking techniques.
When Melanesians first arrived in Fiji in the 1st century AD, they brought with them a wide selection of cuisines from multiple parts of the world. Dutch and English explorers introduced various foods and fruit to Fiji in the 1600s and 1700s and expanded the variety of Fijian cuisine.
After which, Indian labourers also added to the ethnic flavour of Fijian food. If you'd like to learn more about Fiji's food combinations and mouth-watering meals, this article is for you!
What Kind Of Food Do Fijians Eat?
Interestingly, an open fire or underground oven excavated out of the earth and covered with banana leaves is commonly used in Fijian cooking. This is known as a Lovo pit. It's a fascinating cultural experience for visitors to Fiji to try the Lovo or subterranean overcooking.
Sweet potatoes, cassava root, Taro, and fish are all staples of Fijian cuisine. A Lovo may also be used to prepare meat, poultry, and fish.
Sea grapes, pawpaws, bananas, melons, pineapples, and jackfruit are just some of the exotic and luscious fruits that Fiji has to offer!
What Are Some Unique Foods In Fiji?
There are different foods in Fiji, and traditional Fijian produce comprises a variety of unusual delicacies.
- The Dalo or Taro leaf meal Rourou, boiled or stewed in coconut milk and served as a side dish to fish or fowl, is one that many like.
- Known as the "tree of life" in Fiji, coconut bread has been a mainstay of the country's diet for thousands of years.
- Cassava is known as tapioca or sago in Fiji, which is used to make pudding and dessert.
- Curries and Lolo include Fijian asparagus, known as Duruka (coconut milk).
- In the same way that caviar is akin to fish eggs, Nama or sea grapes or green grapes grow in shallow seas and are eaten with chillies and lemon.
- Another Fijian delicacy is Taro. Root vegetables like potatoes and yams are honoured on the first full moon of May as Taro Day. Palusami, a typical Fijian meal, is made using Taro and tastes a lot like a stewed spinach substitute.
- Kava, a drink produced from yaqona combined with water, and Babakau, or fried bread, are two more unusual meals.
Most Popular Dishes In The Traditional Fijian Cuisine
For the first-time visitor to Fiji, the descriptions below of various delicious traditional and contemporary meals from Fijian cuisine will provide an idea of what an incredible, wonderful, and unique experience eating Fijian food can be.
Cawaki, the native name for sea urchin, is Fiji's only edible urchin species, such that it has become a delicacy in coastal communities. Coral reefs in Fiji's shallow waters are home to Cawaki. In Fiji, the Cawaki are collected mainly by women, who then sell them in local marketplaces. Women in the Suva area now make money by gathering and selling sea urchins.
As with ceviche, the lime and lemon juices "cook" the fish in kokoda, which is raw fish such as mahi-mahi, coconut milk, chillies, onions, tomatoes, spring onions, capsicum, and saltwater is also added by the Fijian people to their dishes. When it comes to serving this Fijian meal, it's best served in a huge coconut shell or bamboo.
Duruka is the unopened blossom of a cane stalk, sometimes referred to as "Fijian asparagus." In Southeast Asia and other Pacific islands, it is found in abundance. There are red and green Duruka in Fijians' flora. Red Duruka has a firmer texture than green Duruka, which has a softer feel. Duruka can be used in Fijian cuisine, alongside coconut milk and curries, as one of a vast range of ingredients.
Yams and potatoes may be cooked or mashed, and Taro can be chopped into fries or chips. In terms of carbohydrate content, it's higher than a potato, and it's the best source of vegetable energy. As a mainstay of Fijian cuisine, Taro has been honoured on the first full moon of May as Taro Day for hundreds of years.
Nama is referred to as "Sea Grape," although it is really a kind of seaweed that grows in shallow water and can be found in every corner of Fiji. As a garnish in Fiji, it may be added to a salad or coconut milk, depending on the dish. Nama is a good source of Vitamin A and C.
Fijians prepare kora, a thick paste of shredded coconut, chilli, lemon juice, and salt, from Nama and coconut. In the same way that caviar is eaten with chillies and lemon, sea grapes or green grapes are served with chiles and lemon.
Cooked whole or sliced, Okra is a tropical fruit consumed as a vegetable. There are several ways to cook Okra, which is known for being slimy. It has a grassy flavour comparable to eggplant or green beans when used in stews and soups.
Dalo, a root vegetable also known as Taro and a staple cuisine in Fiji, is said to be one of the first original domesticated plants. It is related to yams in appearance and flavour.
Tavioka and Ivy Yaca
Cooked in a combination of coconut cream with sugar and bananas, this is a traditional Fijian delicacy composed of boiled or baked cassava.
An example of Indo-Fijian influence on Fijian cuisine is the dish Fish Suruwa. It is typically served as the main meal at weddings. Spices and flavourings such as coconut milk, garam masala, cumin, and cinnamon are used in this meal.
This is a popular dish in Fiji, composed of cooked Taro leaves that are mashed with curry and have the flavour of stewed spinach, and it is served with rice. Cooked in coconut cream, this meal has no spices or chillies. Fijians utilise corned beef, onions, and coconut since fresh meat isn't always accessible in these leaves.
Mahi-Mahi, a deep-sea fish from Fiji, is the most common ingredient in Kokoda. It is a popular dish that is often grilled or fried and served with a side of veggies.
Piper methysticum is a plant species indigenous to the South Pacific and is the source of kava, a plant-based narcotic that is consumed as a beverage. Kava is typically created from the ground, crushed, or powdered roots steeped in water and consumed as a tea by Pacific Islanders for centuries. It is common throughout the Pacific to see kava being utilised in many rituals. In Australia, kava may only be used for therapeutic reasons.
In other regions of the globe, cassava is known as Tapioca or Sago, and it is used in sweet dishes in the same way. Cassava cake has a cake-like consistency and is eaten as a dessert with butter, preserved fruit, or fresh fruit to complement it.
Dalo or Taro leaves are used to make Rourou, which resembles spinach in flavour. In specific preparations, Rourou resembles creamed spinach because of the way it is boiled down. Rourou leaves are traditionally cooked in a lovo, an underground earth oven, in Fijian cuisine. One of the most common ways to eat Rourou is to load the leaves with chilli, onion, coconut milk, and tuna combination and serve them as Rourou Peti.
Lovo Underground Cooking
For huge social occasions like weddings and festivals, Lovo is a traditional Fijian cooking style. Cooked in a coconut-husk-lined oven made from a hole dug in the ground, lovo means "meat cooked in the soil."
A layer of stones is laid over the burning husks after they have been lit afire. Lovo is similar to a barbecue in that it uses banana or taro leaves and hot rocks to cook meat, fish, and vegetables, which are then removed and allowed to rest for a few hours before being served.
Curry Vakalolo Mud Crabs
While not unique to Fiji, this delicacy is the most popular in the country because of its widespread appeal throughout the South East Asian and Pacific areas. As soon as they're clean, the giant mud crabs are deshelled with all of their internal parts intact and the bottom shell shattered before boiling so that they may be easily removed.
Using a big saucepan, Fijians heat the curry spices and add them to the crab. Then, the curry mixture is added and stirred until everything is well-cooked. It is stirred completely before the shells are added, and the cover is placed on for 40 minutes, at which point the coconut cream boils over the crab shells, and the entire thing is done.
Steamed rice is the perfect accompaniment to this meal because it allows the crab's juices to seep into the rice.
To make this famous delicacy, bananas cooked in coconut milk and sugar until soft and supple are known as vudi, a short thick species comparable to Hawaiian apple bananas on the islands of the South Pacific. Traditionally, it is produced by splitting it in half with the thumb and then stuffing it with a combination of scraped coconut and brown sugar, which is then cooked in coconut milk.
This dish may be served either cold or hot, and it goes nicely with ice cream or can be enjoyed on its own.
Rather than using dairy milk, the Fijian version employs thick coconut milk, and as a result, it tends to be heavier in texture and consistency than the English original. Purini is cooked over a wood fire for many hours in most Fijian communities, which lends the dish a smokey flavour.
Adding ripe bananas, raisins, sultanas, and even almonds to the base recipe is only one of many possible variations. Purini, like English pudding, is a favourite dish during the holiday season, although you may enjoy it any time of year. It's great with custard or butter and jam and a cup of tea when served warm.
Goat curry is one of Fiji's all-time favourites. High-end restaurants offer freshly butchered goat, which is a delicacy but also rather expensive. Like lamb or mutton, gamey meat takes some getting used to, but with the spiciness of the curry ingredients and skilful slow cooking, a scrumptious spicy meat curry with all the tastes and umami is produced.
It's often served over plain steamed rice to absorb all the curry flavour and juices. Chutney, raita (yogurt), and tamarind sauce are some of the other condiments added.
Whether served at a party or simply as a quiet supper at home, this Lau province cuisine is a crowd-pleaser. It is prepared by soaking salted shredded bitter mustard cabbage for two to three hours. Using a food processor, onions, tomatoes, and chilli peppers are finely chopped before adding them to a big bowl. Fresh coconut milk is stirred into the batter, and fried fish is crushed on top.
FAQs About Top Traditional Fiji Foods
What is Fiji's favourite delicacy?
Kokoda is perhaps the most popular dish in Fiji. It's a kind of raw fish salad, similar to ceviche or poke bowls from South America. Raw fish marinated in citrus is mixed with coconut cream, onion, tomatoes, and chillies in a dish that's served over steamed rice.
When it comes to breakfast, what do Fijians eat?
In Fiji, there are a plethora of breakfast options to choose from. The Babakau, a fried bread prepared from flour, sugar, water, and yeast, is one example of basic morning food.
In Fiji, what do the locals drink?
Kava, a traditional island drink and dish, is Fiji's most widely consumed alcoholic beverage. A mixture of pulverised yaqona and water is used to make this drink. The flavour of this beverage is earthy and spicy.
Try Tasty Fiji Food
While the beaches of Fiji are more famous than the food of the country, there is still a rich culinary tradition in this little island that cannot be denied. Cooking over an open fire or in an underground oven is the unique traditional technique of cooking in Fiji. The substantial Indo-Fijian population has left its mark on the cuisine of Fiji as indentured workers from India arrived in Fiji in the 1870s to work in the sugarcane sector.
This Pacific Island nation's cuisine is different from its neighbours because of the various curries and spices brought by the Indians. In Fijian cuisine, sweet potato and rice are combined with cassava, coconut, fish, and Taro (a starchy root vegetable that resembles yam). Do not miss out on Fijian delicacy while in the country, as these foods are unique and definitely not easy to come by elsewhere.
Fiji has long been a hotspot tourist destination, primarily because of its over 300 islands. When in Fiji, there's no way you won't find something to do with the island's beauty and wildlife. Many tourists get to enjoy activities like boat cruises and snorkelling. It might be best not to go snorkelling with a stomach full of tasty Fiji food, though! If you're considering visiting Fiji consult with a travel consultant or cruise liner, and be sure to try Fiji's food!