Food from the Reunion reflects the influence of the origins of people(mainly from France, India, and China but also from some African countries) who live on this French island. Caris, rougails, bouchons, and samosas testify to this combination for our delight.
What is Rougail?
Rougail is the name of a condiment and of a dish with this condiment. The base is a spicy sauce made of tomato, ginger, onion, salt, garlic, and chilli. A lot of variants exist like the rougail zavoca that is made of avocados, rougail dakatine of peanut paste, rougail mangue of green mango. There are more variants made of lemons, cucumbers, bilimbi (a kind of gherkin), tamarind, Granny Smith apple, chouchou (typical Reunion fruit), etc…
Many different dishes are named after this condiment. Each one is unique because of the mixture of spices they use. The base can be meat (any kind) or fish (tuna, cod fish, sea bream, swordfish, fish larva, shrimp…). It is cooked in a thick pot over high heat with onion, garlic, thyme, tomatoes, salt, pepper, spices, but no turmeric (local saffron). Each rougail has its own taste. The most common rougail is rougail saucisse, which is made of smoked or fresh sausages from the Reunion.
Tips for Eating Rougail
You’ll eat rougail with rice, beans (red or white beans), lentils, fava beans,…and leaf vegetables. The rice is served first, then the meat or fish, then the beans, the leaf vegetables, and the condiment. Do not mix them together!
I didn’t have time to try all of them, but I can tell that they are all different and each restaurant has their own recommendation. The best I tried was a rougail saucisse from a little restaurant at the market place of Saint-Gilles-les-Bains, le Grilladin. Not the best-known restaurant in the town but that’s where you find some hidden gems!
Beware, rougail condiment can be very spicy! Don’t put all the rougail on your dish without first tasting it!