Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Alouda – Purely Mauritian

Paris is known as the city of light, Rome is the city of love, Cape Town the mother city… and Port Louis is where you can find alouda!

It is true that ‘alouda’ is a corruption of the South Indian falooda, which in turn is another corruption of the Persian dessert faloodeh, but the taste of Mauritian alouda is one you will never find anywhere else. The art of deriving from bits and parts of everything and everywhere, Mauritians have well mastered it. Blend with the traditional falooda that peculiar Mauritian style of making and serving it, and you have a sumptuous drink ready, the taste of which provides lifelong companionship.

Passing through Port Louis, and not stopping at the food court of the local bazaar to have an Alouda Pillay, which definitely is the best one here, is one of those remote impossibilities of life, most present when it’s a question of either death or alouda. “Hmm…”, “delllliciouss..”, “amaaazing…”, you will lose yourself in the chorus of visitors contemplating their first taste of it.
So famous, so loved, so relished, that now the alouda is being mass commercialized all around the island, and even sold in the best restaurants. You will find 175ml cups of alouda produced and marketed by Maurilait in many commercial stores. Alouda is, distinguishably and undoubtedly, the beer par excellence of Mauritian non-alcoholics.

Alouda is the holy grail of our local milk-based beverages, made with soaked basil seeds (or, as we commonly call them here, ‘toukmaria’). Basil, or sweet basil, is a culinary herb originally from India, the seeds of which are well-known for their amazing health benefits. A stress reliever, assuaging stomach upsets, influenza, fever and cold, these seeds are also crushed into oil to treat skin infections, wounds and cuts. Jelly made out of ‘agar agar’ is often added to the concoction of milk and soaked basil seeds, basically for the texture. Agar agar is the Malay name for red algae, from which the gelatinous substance is derived. Gelling food, it has the advantage of being calorie free. Agar agar is approximately 80% fiber, so it can serve as an intestinal regulator. Its bulk quality has made it pioneer one of the latest fad diets in Asia, the kanten (Japanese for agar agar) diet, particularly promising for obese people.

The mixture sweetened according to taste, the rest of the ingredients form the garniture. Some of the venders prefer to add Nestlé condensed milk, while others favor rose- or almond-flavored syrup, or ice cream, or chocolate. Pillay usually adds the final touch to its alouda with ice cream. You can even find sugar-free alouda especially made for diabetics and sugar abhorrers—or ask it plain simple if you wish.

Best served cold, the alouda is one of the most—if not the most—refreshing, invigorating and nutritious beverages after an exhaustive and hot sunny day.
So if you are lucky enough to be in Mauritius, and have not yet tasted the typical Mauritian alouda—the purely Mauritian alouda, make sure not to fly back home unlucky!

1 comment:

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