You might think that the south coast of Mauritius is better known for its beaches and landscapes but for Mauritians, the south is also a paradise for foodies!
And if there is something you cannot miss it is undoubtedly the buying of Merveilles from the nice lady near the waterfront. We assure you that you won’t be disappointed.
It’s early morning and Sunita is setting up her stall which is strategically situated between the bus terminal of Mahebourg and the waterfront. She sets up her coconuts and her plethora or fruits: pineapples, mangoes, “frisiter”, cucumbers and pickled goodies. Soon the clients will come swarming in, but most of them will have one thing in mind: the Merveilles!
Merveilles, loosely translated would mean “Marvels” and it is not hard to guess why! The thin and crunchy deep fried base is covered in a slightly tangy tomato chutney and topped with a sweeter tamarind sauce…
As you crack the sides of the Merveille and mix it with the sauces while you take a moment to breathe in the sea breeze, you will almost want to say: “How marvellous!”.
Sunita’s little food shack has been there for more than 20 years. She started by selling her pickled and crystallised fruits topped with her now famous tamarind sauce along with the seasonal litchis and “longanes” .
Then, her love for coconut water inspired her to start selling coconut water and coconut cream. “I’ve loved to get coconuts from my neighbour’s tree and drink the water since I was a child “, she muses. She used to buy 5 coconuts for 10 rupees back in the day. It helped her grow her clientele who loves to stop by and get a refreshing sip of water out of the freshly cut coconuts.
Shortly after, she met a lady who’s grand-mother was known for making incredible Merveilles. Sunita says that the lady had the same “hand” as her granny. Meaning, hers was as good! She decided to purchase about 30 from her at first. Now there is such a demand for it that she had to increase her order consequently!
What is the secret to the success of the almost mythical Merveilles of Mahebourg?
“The sauces!” She does her tomato and coriander chutney and tamarind sauce in her own special way. As a result, many even come to buy just the chutney to accompany their dinner at home.
As a customer, you will also find that her cheerfulness, welcoming smile and the beautiful environment also contribute to the attractiveness of this unique spot. Once you’ve experienced this brief but lovely encounter, it’s hard not to go back!