Fijian Food You Must Taste!
Sure, you might have come to Fiji to lazy in the irresistible sun, swim with tropical fish and get in some pool time, but once you discover the flavours of Fiji, you might just find your next favourite thing about these tropical islands!
Food in Fiji is influenced by a mix of traditional rituals, the melting pot of cultures in the country, and the natural produce that thrives in a tropical climate. For these reasons, food in Fiji consists of a tantalising array of dishes, from cool and creamy refreshing meals to cool your down in the daytime to spicy Indo-Fijian flavours to fire up the nights. With that, check out this list of unique Fiji foods you have to try!
1. Lovo – Fiji’s National Food
Let’s start with a traditional Fijian meal that you’ll hear about oh so often: lovo. Lovo means “a feast cooked in the earth” and that’s exactly what it is! Pork, fish, lamb and vegetables are wrapped in banana leaves and slow-cooked in an underground furnace. Lovo is only prepared for special occasions, such as weddings or the New Year, so even the locals have a hard time finding some lovo to try! Nevertheless, some resorts and homestays prepare lovo especially for their guests, so check if you’re resort has a special night for lovo!
2. Kokoda – Fiji’s Most Popular Food
Something you’ll find on plenty of menus around Fiji is kokoda (pronounced “ko-kon-da”). This raw salad dish served in a coconut shell or mini tanoa (kava bowl) primarily consists of raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut cream. Additionally, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes and peppers are also added. This dish makes a good entree to your meal or a refreshing dish for lunch.
3. Cassava (Tavioka) and Taro (Dalo) – Fiji’s Favourite Vegetables
Discovering the staples of the everyday diet in another country is one of the most interesting things about travelling (well, at least for foodies). Something you’ll find on most Fijians’ dinner plates are cassava or taro, otherwise known as tavioka or dalo. These root vegetables are slightly different in taste but are prepared the same, either boiled or fried. Think of them as the Fiji version of potatoes – served on the side of a main meal. Go to any cooking classes or homestays in Fiji and you’re sure to try some! Learn more about cooking classes in our list of the 10 Foodie Experiences in Fiji.
4. Baigan Valo – Fijian Indian Food
Our first fusion dish in the melting pot nation of Fiji, Baigan Valo is essentially stuffed eggplants. “Baingan” in Hindi means eggplant, and in Baigan Valo the eggplant is either stuffed with fish or spicy sauce before being topped with coconut cream. You’ll find it on the menu in many resort restaurants and city restaurants! Find out more about the different cultures of Fiji in Who are the People of Fiji?
5. Fijian Roti – Indo-Fijians’ Favourite Food
Another Indian influence on the flavours of Fiji is roti, which originated from the Indian sub-continent and has been a favourite in Fiji for decades. The flatbread cooked over an iron tava is a side dish to curries, as well as being used as a wrap for a quick cheap eat in curry houses and snack stands in Fiji’s towns and cities.
6. Babakau – A Fijian Breakfast Favourite
A real treat for breakfast, babakau is Fijian fried bread! While most resorts will offer the standard “continental style breakfast”, homestay hosts are more likely to spruce up something a little more special, like babakau! This delicious bread is usually served with jams, butter and fruit.
7. Cooked Fish – Fiji’s Favourite Protein
With islands surrounded by lively waters, it’s no surprise that fish is always on the menu. Plus, you’re likely to try a species of fish that you’ve never tasted before. Fish are prepared by either being fried, grilled, smoked or steamed. On a side note, Fijians don’t fillet their fish so be prepared for some bone picking. Try catching some fish yourself following the advice in The Complete Guide to Fishing in Fiji.
8. Palusami – A Traditional Fijian Meal
Another tasty South Pacific dish, Palusami is a curry made with taro leaves. Although the curry does not have spices or chilli, it still has a rich taste. Palusami is either topped with coconut cream or lamb chunks.
9. Chicken Chop Suey – A Fijian-Chinese Dish
Fiji has a significant Chinese population too, so naturally, Chinese food is extremely popular! Chicken chop suey is a staple item on fast food menus found in Viti Levu‘s (the mainland’s) Chinese takeaways and restaurants. The tangy aromatic flavours make a real contrast to traditional Fijian food so give it a try for some variety in your palette.
10. Tropical Fruit – A Must-Try at the Market
One of the best foodie experiences in Fiji is going to a produce market and trying all the weird and wonderful tropical fruits that you never knew existed! What fruit is Fiji known for? Try the alien-looking sour sop bursting with flavour, smooth pawpaw (papaya), the jelly-like Fijian longan and so much more! Even the fruit that you’re probably familiar with, like pineapples and bananas, will look and taste a lot different (and sweeter) than the supermarket produce at home. Plus, who can forget the fresh coconuts! Take a look at the 10 Exotic Fruits in Fiji You Have to Try.
11. Cassava Cake – The Best Fijian Dessert
A tasty sweet treat made from the aforementioned cassava or taro is the cassava cake. Be on the lookout for this sticky dessert in Fiji’s cafes or on the dessert menu of your resort restaurant, which is usually topped with butter, icing, fruit or whatever else the chef has in store.
12. Fiji Coffee – A Must-Try Drink in Fiji
Encroaching onto the liquid side of Fiji’s gastronomical offerings, Fiji’s coffee is something that will go very well with your cassava cake! Coffee bean plantations are nestled in the inland mountainous regions of Fiji. In turn, locally grown coffee is roasted by several Fijian coffee roasters. Bula Coffee and Fiji Coffee are just a couple that you might see in cafes and for sale in souvenir shops. See more beverages to try in the 8 Drinks in Fiji You Have to Try.
13. Kava – A Traditional Fijian Drink
A staple of the Fijian culture, kava is a drink made from ground-up yaqona root mixed with water. The result is an earthy-tasting drink that, once you have had a few too many, will leave you tingly and majorly relaxed. While casual night around the tanoa (bowl used to make and serve kava) is a way of life in Fiji, drinking kava is also drunk as part of a welcoming ceremony for new guests entering a village. That’s why many resorts in Fiji will greet their guests with a kava ceremony and get you ingrained in the local culture. Learn more about where to experience kava drinking in our 10 Best Ways to Experience the Fijian Culture.
14. Rourou – Fijian Spinach
Rourou is taro (dalo) leaves cooked in a way that’s similar to spinach. It can be used in Palusami (see above) or something called Rourou Peti, which are taro leaves wrapped around chilli, onions, coconut milk and fish.
15. Coconut Bread – A Tropical Staple
While not exclusive to Fiji, as you’ll find this baked staple across the Pacific Islands, coconut bread is still a must if you find it on the menu or at the bakery. Pick some up from the Hot Bread Kitchen in Nadi, Namaka, Denarau or Suva.
16. Lolo Buns – Baked in Paradise
Another way to do coconut bread is the semi-sweet version, lolo buns. Served for breakfast or as a naughty treat, lolo buns are sometimes stuffed with coconut or soaked with coconut milk (or both). You can also pick these up at any bakery, as well as the Hot Bread Kitchen.
17. Nama – Fijian Sea Grapes
Harvested in the shallow waters of Fiji, nama is otherwise known as sea grapes and is a very traditional food in Fiji. The seaweed specifically grows in the lagoon waters of the Yasawa Islands where you can join villagers to harvest it.
18. Sugarcane – Grown in Fiji
What many visitors don’t realise until they come to Fiji is just how much of the land across Viti Levu and Vanua Levu are sugar cane plantations. It’s not uncommon to see sugarcane trucks and trains passing through towns and even some resorts! Many raw sugarcanes can be found lying around during the harvest season (November) where resorts are usually happy to chop them up for you to try the raw sweet stuff! Otherwise, sugarcane is used in the production of Fijian rum, which you can find out more about in the 8 Drinks in Fiji You Have to Try.
Final Facts About the Food in Fiji
- Ingredients that Fijians use in cooking include fish, rice, coconut, taro, cassava and breadfruit
- Indian food is well represented in Fiji thanks to the large Indo-Fijian population
- Local foods are often served bones-and-all, so prepare for some picking
- Kava is the national drink in Fiji, although the islands also produce rum, coffee and beer
- There are more ways to experience food in Fiji than just eating it, with cooking classes, medicinal walks, coconut demonstrations and more
- Not all water is safe to drink in Fiji so be prepared with a Lifestraw bottle.
That’s it for the most unique foods in Fiji. Learn more about each of the facts about the food listed above, as well as more traditional dishes to try in The Complete Guide to Food in Fiji.