Baked Gateaux Piment; My take on a Mauritian Gajack
These baked Gateaux Piment are inspired by my recent holiday to Mauritius. I tried the more traditional deep fried version only a couple of times on the trip, both times from a street food stall, and they’ve been amongst a host of new recipes I’ve been playing around with in my kitchen since I returned.
Gateaux Piment translates from Mauritian Creole to English as chilli cakes, and in the rich Mauritian traditional cuisine they fall under the category of snacks, otherwise known as gajacks. They are always deep fried and often served at street food stalls, or also made in the home. They can also be eaten for breakfast and often served in a large buttered white bap! They’re made from store cupboard ingredients along with a few fresh bits – mostly soaked split peas and spices with chilli and spring onions, although there seems to be no definitive on what should be included. Since making these I’ve wondered whether I should have put a more current seasonal British spin on them; wild garlic springs to mind.
Whilst I was still away I jumped onto Amazon to order the only Mauritian cookbook I knew of – Sunshine on a Plate by a past U.K. Masterchef winner Shelina Permaloo – so that I had the book waiting for me when I got home. I have been cooking from the book already, and my version of these gateaux piment is an amalgamation of the many recipes I researched, as well as my own modifications so that they’d survive baking in the oven.
When I decided to tackle these at home it was always my intention to either light fry or bake them. Even for treat dishes I prefer not to deep fry in vegetable oil, and leave my deep fried adventures to eating out in restaurants or on holiday – who can deny deep fried calamari or chips? For home cooking, it’s all about making a better choice, even if changing the cooking method undeniably has an affect on the end flavour. These baked gateaux are heavier as a baked good, likely because I opted to use a little chickpea flour to help them stick together. They actually turned out a little like the falafel I often make, and despite this they are definitely something I am going to add to my repertoire going forwards. At last a use for the cheapest pulse of them all – yellow split peas!
Along with my baked Gateaux piment I made a simple dip of homemade mayonnaise with coriander, roti using wholemeal spelt flour (instead of a white buttered roll), and added some leftover squid rougaille I’d made for dinner the previous evening. I didn’t make a note of these recipes, so here they are just serving as photo props. More soon I’m sure. However I can send you in the direction of this Mussels and King Prawn Rougaille by Recipes from a Pantry, or this Easy Coconut Roti from Fuss Free Helen.
- 125g yellow split peas, soaked overnight
- 1 large or 2 small spring onions, finely sliced
- 1-2 green chilies, minced
- Handful of chopped fresh coriander
- 1 teaspoon dried cumin
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- A paste made from 2 tablespoons gram flour + 1 tablespoon water
- olive oil
- Drain and rinse the split peas well, then blitz in a food processor until broken down, still leaving some texture. Add the onions, chilli, coriander, cumin and salt. Blitz again very briefly.
- Turn out into a bowl. Press the mixture into a small ball in your hand. If it doesn't stick together easily, then make a paste from the gram flour and water and stir into the mix till well incorporated.
- Using your fingers and the palm of your hands, gather the mix into 12 equal sized balls. Place on a plate and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
- Pre-heat oven to 200C (fan).
- Place the gateaux on a lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes until crispy and browned, turning over half way.
- Serve warm or cold, ideally with a flavourful dip
Have you tried any Mauritian food before? What was your favourite? 14