What is Fijian Food?

My first move when I plan to visit a new country? Find out about the food. Even before Eat the World, both Mike and I have been major international foodies. Visiting a new country and learning all about their unique cuisines is like unwrapping a present for us. Unfortunately, there isn’t much out there on the internet about food in Fiji. I’m not sure why because there are some really interesting and unique dishes from Fiji.  So what is Fijian food?

What do they eat in Fiji? Here’s a sample:

KokodaA Plate of Kokoda - Discovering Fijian Food

Obviously living on a bunch of tiny islands out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has influenced Fijian food greatly. Fish is a major part of Fijians lives: mahi-mahi, snapper, mackerel, unicorn fish, octopus etc. etc. etc. One unique dish that encompasses the fishy part of Fijian cuisine is kokoda. It’s similar to ceviche: raw pieces of white fish marinated in coconut cream, lime, onions and tomatoes. The acid in the limes or lemons cooks the fish but the coconut gives it a creamy flavor. Be careful though, Fijians like their Kokoda spicy! I am not a big fish fan. But I did like kokoda!

Lovo

Lovo essentially means “feast cooked in the earth.” A shallow pit is dug and heated rocks are placed at the bottom. Meat wrapped in taro leaves is placed on top and covered with a variety of root veggies like cassava and taro. Then the entire thing is covered with dirt and left alone for a couple of hours, at which point the food is cooked. Ingenious really.  Generally, a lovo feast includes steamed fish, pork and chicken as well as veggies. The food takes on a smokey flavor due to the leaves and the method of cooking.

Duruka

A unique Fijian food, duruka is a vegetable sometimes called “Fijian Asparagus.” It’s actually the unopened flower of a cane shoot. It’s fleshy and kind of stringy but tasty. Duruka is often cooked in coconut milk or put in a curry.

Nama

Also known as sea grapes, nama is the coolest looking seaweed I’ve ever eaten. They are incredibly green and the tiny little beads kind of pop in your mouth. They are sometimes used as a garnish but can also be served in a salad, in coconut milk (a popular theme in Fiji) or raw with some chili, lime juice, shredded coconut and salt.

Taro

Taro Soup - Discovering what Fijian Food Really Is
Taro Soup

Taro is a heavy, potato-like tuber with a kind of purple hue. They eat so much taro here they even have a holiday dedicated to it: the first full moon in the month of May is Taro Day. Taro can be boiled like a potato, mashed, used in a curry or even cut into fries or chips. Steamed taro is very popular. Fijians also use the taro leaves in cooking, such as in the lovo mentioned above. The leaves can be boiled in coconut milk to create a spinach-like dish or fried into fritters. There are limitless possibilities.

Indian Food

Indian Food is Fijian Food Too - Over 45% of the population is Indian As I mentioned before, 45% of the population is Indo-Fijian, meaning Indian food is also Fijian food and is plentiful and popular. Curries, dal, samosas and chutneys are all popular and easy to find. Amazing fresh roti is often seen at breakfast buffets. The road to Nadi is dotted with Indian restaurants. The Indian food in Fiji uses ingredients unique to the South Pacific such as black eyed peas, cassava, fish and goat. Likewise the spices popular in Indian cuisine such as turmeric, cumin and spicy chilies have also crept into traditional Fijian cooking.

Fruit

Plate of Papaya in Fiji - Discovering Fijian Food
Like any good tropical paradise, fruit is a big deal here. Mangos, papayas, pineapples and bananas are all present as well as some more exotic fruits like jackfruit, vudi (a relative of the banana), jamun (rose fruits) and breadfruit. There’s more of course, like fresh cassava chips and spinach boiled in coconut milk and of course the (not-so-tasty) national drink. What I find the most interesting about Fijian food is how they’ve so seamlessly merged their traditional island foods with the Indian and English influences of the past few hundred years. It makes every meal an adventure.

 

Pin for Later:

What Is Fijian Food?

Thank you to Tourism Fiji for hosting us. All opinions are my own.

 

Steph

Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! She is the co-founder and editor of Why Wait To See the World. Learn more about her here.

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24 thoughts on “What is Fijian Food?”

  1. Oh Yum! This looks like a great cuisine for me! I don’t eat read meats but I devour fish and seafood! Thanks for the article! I’d never heard ANYTHING about Fijian food before.

  2. Wow I love tropical fruits and fresh fish – when I saw the dish name of kokoda though it reminded me of the kokoda dragon…! Glad its actually fish 😉

  3. I definitely had no idea what fiji food was before this post. Everything looks tasty except that taro soup. It kind of looks like it is in a bed pan.

  4. Name (required)

    Wow, reading this made me really hungry! Your descriptions make it all sound delicious, and your photos leave me drooling. Don’t get me started on fresh mangos and papayas! Now I want to go back Malawi or Kenya really bad. Haha!
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. This all looks really amazing…except maybe the Kokoda, I’m not a fish person. I’m currently a vegetarian, but I made the decision that when I start my travels next year, I will eat meat while abroad. I’m excited and totally scared at the same time. Posts like this help me start to realize what it would be like! Thanks!

  6. That “Taro” looks very close to a mexican buritto which I am craving while on my world trip adventure. I am hoping as we move towards South East Asia the food gets better. I am not a fan of the European cuisine….yet. I am also a vegetarian so my options are limited.

    1. That is not “taro”. The burrito thing you are referring to is a roti-and-curry parcel. The rolled up flatbread is a roti. Roti is traditional indian bread, eaten at least once daily by virtually everyone in the whole country!! Yeah, while the traditional Native Fijian food photos look very nice, almost everybody in the country opts to eat Indian food, which is far tastier and easier to cook and less expensive!

  7. Taro soup…is it the leaves or the taro itself? I live in fiji and i have never head of soup taro. Only the leaves soup with coconut milk ..mmmm. Great article though

  8. Marianna Bewersdorff

    Thanks for your research on Fijian food. I get to teach a Sunday School lesson about Fiji and always have fun making some food from the country I teach about for the kids. This was a helpful start to think about what I want to experiment with this weekend. Thanks again!

    1. I can’t really say. There was definitely plenty of non-seafood options, but you’ll probably want to make your needs clear to anyone serving you.

  9. My god! Your pics make me feel really hungry. It looks super delicious!!
    I was looking for some content to write a short radio show about Fidji food. Thanks for this! and greetings from France.

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