With the flavours of India, the South Pacific and the local tastes of 300 islands - Fiji has a unique food tradition. Take time to enjoy the fresh, local ingredients and traditional cooking methods passed down through the generations.
Tropical fruit is an island staple. A visit to any of the local markets will have you taking in the colours and scents of the tropics. With delicious pineapples, fresh coconuts, mangoes and oh so sweet bananas that are on offer year round.
Taro is such a loved ingredient it has its own holiday, Taro Day, celebrated in May. A bit like a potato but purple this Fijian staple is usually served steamed. Its fresh leaves are cooked into tasty fritters or in creamy coconut milk. Just like cassava, it is also served boiled, mashed or fried. Try it in the local Fijian favourite kolokasi – a chicken and taro stew.
The national drink of Fiji is kava, traditionally prepared by virgins, now its just made by pounding up the kava root in a wooden bowl. With its muddy, earthy flavour, it is pretty obvious no one drinks it for the taste. After a few coconuts full of kava the powerful sedative effective kicks in and then numbs your mouth. If you take part in a kava ceremony remember to clap 3 times after every drink.
Delicious duruka or ‘Fijian Asparagus,’ is the unopened flower of a cane shoot - either red or white it is usually added to coconut milk or a fragrant curry.
Lovo is the Fijian name for a ‘feast cooked in the earth’. A bit like a smoky BBQ - lovo is prepared for special occasions when a banquet is needed. Meat and vegetables are wrapped in fresh banana leaves and placed in a hole lined with coconut husks and hot stones. Before being covered with earth to cook for many hours.
Nama or ‘sea grapes’ are a seaweed found throughout the Fijian islands. Traditionally served as a fresh vegetable, salad or in coconut milk. You will often see it harvested in the shallow waters off the Yasawa Island’s reef.
Kokoda Fiji’s popular equivalent to ceviche, is made up of chopped raw mahi-mahi fish, dressed with miti – a spicy marinade of coconut cream, onions, lemon/lime juice, tomatoes and chilies. After 6 -8 hours the fish becomes ‘cooked’ by the marinade and is served island style is a large clamshell or half a fresh coconut.
To learn more about Fijian local food & culture why not book a cooking class?
Written by Fotini E Douglas