Fijian Cuisine and Recipes
Fijian recipes and cooking
by Country - February 2004
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consists of over 300 mountainous islands situated in the South Pacific, which
are scattered over an area of about 518,000 sq. km. It has
a total of 1,129 km of coastline
and boasts a warm, wet climate with little
temperature fluctuation throughout the seasons. Only about one third of the islands
are inhabited, the largest of which are Viti Levu -10,429 sq.km and Vanua Levu -
5,556 sq. km.
multicultural society of mainly Melanesian, Polynesian, Indian and Chinese with
relatively strong European influences, Fijian cuisine is another good example of
Times and Influences on Fijian Cooking
first settled about 3,500 years ago. Although the exact details of
who the very first settlers were, it is widely believed that these
islands were initially settled by two different peoples, namely the Lapita
peoples, Polynesians who originated from Southeast Asia and Melanesians who made
their way to Fiji from the area around New Guinea.
were these early settlers skilled sailors and fishermen but archaeological
evidence shows they were also well practiced in farming and agricultural
techniques. The Lapita brought pigs, chickens, dogs and edible plants to Fiji
with them from their homelands and proceeded to cultivate root crops such as
Taro, using intricate irrigation systems at the same time raising pigs and
poultry for food, as well as taking advantage of the abundance of
fish and seafood readily available to them. Although their diet seems
rich in protein and diversity, cannibalism was practiced in Fiji certainly at
the time when the first Europeans arrived.
methods included steaming in an earth oven called a “lovo” which was often
used to cook whole pigs, chickens, seafood and root vegetables such as taro as
well as cooking pots made from clay. Coconut was used in all its forms.
first European to visit Fiji was the Dutch Navigator Abel Tasman in 1643,
however is was good old Captain Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame,
who first recorded them in the late 1700s.
In the early 1800’s the discovery of sandalwood and Sea Cucumbers in
the region led to an increase of Western and Eastern traders/seamen. Both
commodities were highly prized in
the East and of course, western traders got involved in the trading of them in
the hope of making fortunes.
came under British rule in1874. They introduced Cattle to the islands in the
late 1800's as well as exotic fruit and spices from the Americas and Africa. They also brought in Indian indentured labourers to work on the
sugar plantations which sprung up under British rule. The Indians introduced the
use and cultivation of pulses as well as the use of various spices in cooking. Over
60,000 Indians were brought to Fiji as indentured servants before the practice
was abolished, resulting in over 40% of today’s population being of Indian
the Chinese were never engaged as indentured workers, even though a shortage of
labour made this prospect desirable, their community also developed,
mainly as shopkeepers and market gardeners.
Day Fijian Cuisine
Fijian cuisine is a mixture of Melanesian, Polynesian, Indian, Chinese, and
Western cuisine. Staples include
breadfruit, yam, cassava, taro
root (dalo) and leaves (rourou), meats such as beef, pork and poultry and of
course , seafood.
fruit such as lime, guava, mango, bananas and pineapple are also popular in both
sweet and savoury dishes and we mustn’t forget coconut milk (lolo),
which is widely used in many dishes.
such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, soy sauce and chilies
are often used to flavour dishes.
typical Fijian main course might consist of a dish of meat, poultry or fish,
boiled taro leaves and cassava or taro as accompaniments. Indo-Fijian curries
are a must.