My honeymoon in Mauritius was eventful in all sorts of ways! One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Rault Biscuit Factory in Mahébourg which claimed to make unique biscuits that you could not find anywhere else in the world. This claim was based on a secret hand-me-down recipe to make flourless biscuits, which has been a family secret since 1870. We headed off to see and sample these interesting biscuits on our rental two wheeler scooty and found ourselves riding through narrow hilly roads in search of the biscuit factory. After following a few brown and white factory signboards, we located the entrance of the factory.
The main factory building is located in the middle of the family estate amidst a forest of coconut trees, mango trees and the cassava plantations. These cassava plantations, locally referred to as manioc, are the actual secret behind the flourless recipe. Interestingly, these manioc plants, earlier used to feed cattle, became a popular replacement for wheat flour during the first world war.
The plantation has an old well which still operated with a hydraulic pump to provide water to the entire plantation. We were shown this well before staying there tonight or the factory.
The biscuiterie or biscuit factory had a 20 minute guided tour with a tasting of all the seven varieties of the manioc biscuits at the end of the tour. The factory is operated only by women, and the equipment used in the factory has also been hand made by the family. The manioc is first turned into manioc flour which is then used to make the biscuit. This biscuit is cooked in a hot oven which is heated by dried ravenal leaves. Old fashioned, yet so effective!
The biscuit once made, is hand wrapped by the skilful ladies using glue made from corn flour and water! The minute attention given to the details of making the whole process organic and environment friendly is commendable. Post the tour we got our tasting with hot cups of tea and trays full of hot biscuits – all the seven flavours – vanilla, star anise, butter, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut and sesame. The biscuits were crunchy, although not as satisfying as their flour caked, buttery counterparts, yet they were pleasing to munch on with the light fragrant tea which was served.
The green estate lay all around us providing for a calm and relaxing ambience to our little tea party! We took a few packets to bring back to India with us so that we could relish and savour the manioc goodness even when we were back home. We headed back to our abode in Mahebourg on the rental Scooty, the taste of the biscuits still fresh on our palates and the memory of the unique factory etched deeply in our memories.
Mauritius has something to offer to every individual – the adventure lover, the laid back, the food enthusiast, the tourist and the traveller. I will write about many such interesting escapades and finds in my upcoming posts!