The Maldives, officially known as the Republic of Maldives, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean located southwest of the Indian subcontinent. A tropical paradise on earth, the Maldives is made up of 26 atolls, which are made up of more than 1,000 coral islands. Deep blue seas with colourful coral reefs, white sandy beaches, luxury resorts, and diverse vegetation make it a popular beach destination in Asia. Besides, this pristine island nation is home to some of the most sumptuous and healthy cuisines in the world. The cuisine of the Maldives is heavily influenced by the island nation’s history as a trading hub in the Indian Ocean. Fish and coconut are staple ingredients in many Maldivian dishes. If you are a foodie and love trying different varieties of food, then check out our list of some of the best local foods that one must try as part of the Maldives tour packages.
One of the popular traditional Maldivian dishes, Garudhiya is a fragrant fish soup that is made with tuna, tomato, and lime. This classic dish is often served as a main dish during the holy Ramadan month as it is a low-fat and high-protein dish. In this dish, fresh tuna is diced into cubes and cooked with onion, garlic, chili, curry leaves, and water. It is then seasoned with crunchy fried onions and freshly squeezed lime juice. Some people use coconut milk to make the soup creamier, and some add vegetables like okra, eggplant, and chilli peppers. It is usually served with steamed rice and can be found in most restaurants in Male, one of the prime places to visit in Maldives. This low-fat, high-protein dish can be enjoyed any time of the day as it stays light on the stomach.
Bis Keemiyaa is a fried Maldivian snack filled with chopped cabbage, tuna, eggs, and spices. This Maldivian version of samosa is definitely a must-try food during your Maldives tour. The texture of the snack is flaky and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The aroma of this dish is so amazing that it makes you drool. It is also commonly served as a snack and can be found in almost every corner of the Maldives, as well as from street vendors. It is also popular in countries like India, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc. One can also make it a vegetarian snack by filling it with vegetables coated with spices.
Saagu Bondibai is a traditional Maldivian sweet dish made from sago. This sweet pudding is prepared by boiling sago seeds in coconut milk and laced with condensed milk which thickens its consistency and gives it a velvet-soft texture. The sweetness of sugar and the rich flavor of coconut make a perfect combination. The addition of cardamom powder and rose essence make it aromatic and flavorsome. Loved by locals as well as tourists, this dish is often made during special occasions such as festivals, and weddings, and is one of the must-try dishes while in the Maldives, one of the visa free countries for Indians.
A Maldivian breakfast is not complete without some Mashuni or Mas Huni. This traditional breakfast dish is made with shredded smoked tuna which is produced by smoking the fish using coconut husk, giving it a unique smoky flavor. The shredded tuna is then mixed with grated coconut, and chopped onions together, and then seasoning it with chili powder, lime juice, and salt. This mouthwatering dish is considered an easy and simple recipe and the main ingredients are easily available. It is also a very versatile dish that can be served with rice or roshi, the Maldivian flatbread. In some places, this dish is also made with boiled butternut squash or pumpkin. It is definitely one of the best local foods to try in the Maldives if you are looking for a light, nutritious, and sumptuous breakfast option.
Gulha is another typical and popular Maldivian snack that one must try as part of the Maldives packages. Gulhas are small ball-shaped dumplings that are prepared with wheat flour or rice flour dough, which is then stuffed with a mixture of tuna, finely chopped onion, grated coconut, as well as chillies. The balls are then deep-fried until they are golden brown and crispy. These fried dumplings are crunchy outside and soft inside that are loved by the locals as well as tourists. Easily found at street vendors as well as restaurants at many luxury resorts in the Maldives, Gulha is an amazing evening snack that can be enjoyed with tea or coffee.
Another popular seafood delicacy from Maldivian cuisine, Rihaakuru is a thick fish sauce prepared by cooking fish on low flame for a very long time until it becomes a thick dark paste. It is a staple food of the Maldives and is consumed almost daily in every household since ancient times. The dish is considered an easy and simple recipe but time-consuming. This traditional Maldivian dish is the result of hours of cooking tuna in water and salt, while carefully removing the scum that keeps forming. Once the tuna pieces are cooked and ready to eat or store, they will be removed from the water, as well as the bones, heads, and fish guts. The remaining fish soup is kept boiling on a low fire until most water evaporates. The resulting concentrated fish soup becomes a thick paste which is known as Rihaakuru. Rihaakuru is eaten pure in the Maldives along with rice, taro, roti, or breadfruit.
Maldivian Fish Curry
Fish is one of the main ingredients in almost all Maldivian dishes. Maldivian Fish Curry, also known as Mas Riha, is considered a staple food of Maldivians that is found in wide varieties. The dish is made by cooking fish in a mixture of coconut milk and a blend of spices such as chili, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and onions. This creamy, flavored, and spicy curry is prepared by using different types of fish are used in different parts of Maldives. Skipjack tuna, little tunny, yellowfin tuna, frigate tuna, bigeye scad, wahoo, and mahi-mahi are the main type of fish used in this recipe. Usually, this fish curry is served with rice and roshi. If you are a seafood lover, then this is the must-try dish while in the Maldives.
Kulhimas is another traditional dish originating from the Maldives. The dish is usually prepared with yellowfin tuna, which is the most commonly eaten fish in the Maldives. The tuna is mixed with the spicy paste made of onions, hot peppers, garlic, ginger, grated coconut, cardamom, cumin, red chili powder, salt, and black pepper, and is then cooked over low heat to release the flavors. If desired, coconut milk or cream can also be added to the mixture. Kulhimas is often served with roshi, a typical Maldivian flatbread.
Boshi Mashuni, also known as Banana Flower Salad, is a healthy and tasty Maldivian salad. Somewhere between salad and salsa, Boshi Mashuni is a mix of crushed, blanched banana flowers, fresh coconut, and spices including turmeric and chillies. It is especially awesome with limes, spicy with onions and Maldivian chilies, with a zesty background thanks to curry leaves, turmeric, and cumin. It is one of the healthy dishes that one must try as part of Maldives Tour Packages.
Masbaiy is a rice dish that is very popular in the Maldives. Its name literally translates to fish rice as this dish features large, tender pieces of tuna. It is a one-pot dish made with basmati rice, coconut milk, tuna fish, and spices. The yellow spice (reendhoo) is added to it which gives the dish yellow colour. It is generally served with Maldivian fish paste or Rihaakuru but can be enjoyed on its own with a green salad. This mouthwatering and easy-to-make dish is usually cooked by the Maldivians when they go on picnics as well as for Friday lunch.
Santhi is an avid traveler and primary contributor to the blogs at Trawell.in. She has explored most of the states in India and gained vast knowledge on tourist destinations in India and abroad. She also contributes content to other travel websites.