Many Filipinos dream of going to Maldives. Located in the Indian Ocean, this island nation is the very picture of a tropical paradise. But aside from enjoying the sun, sand, sea, you also shouldn’t miss out on Maldivian cuisine when you book your Maldives tour package. Most of their dishes feature fish and seafood, along with coconuts and rice. You’ll also notice the heavy influence of Indian cuisine, since many dishes are made hot, spicy, and creamy with chilis and curry.
For foodies looking for a gastronomic adventure, here’s a quick guide on some of the best dishes to try when in Maldives.
Garudhiya is one of many traditional dishes in Maldives, one that’s eaten by practically every local. This dish is a soup cooked with three main ingredients: fish, water, and salt. It sounds simple, but the cooking process actually takes hours and needs constant watching to remove the scum or filleyo that forms on top. Once the fish is cooked, it gets separated from the soup so it can be cured and turned into another traditional Maldivian food called Maldive fish. Meanwhile, the soup is served with steamed rice along with some lime, chili, and onions.
For those who love dipping sauces, you might be interested to try rihaakuru, a thick paste made from tuna that was slowly cooked in water and salt. The resulting soup can either be made into garudhiya or kept boiling with bondi (the meat of the tuna scraped from the fish bones) until concentrated paste is formed. This is rihaakuru. It can be eaten as is, like an appetizer, or used as a sauce to season rice or taro root. Another popular way of consuming rihaakuru is to dip some roshi into it. Roshi is a kind of flat bread or chapati that’s made of grated coconut.
Another staple food in Maldives is mas huni. It’s a breakfast dish made from shredded smoked tuna, mixed with grated coconuts and seasoned with some lemon and onions. It’s often eaten with roshi, although you can also eat it with rice or on its own.
Masroshi is a popular savory snack in Maldives, reminiscent of empanada. Simply put, masroshi is chapati stuffed with coconut and smoked tuna. Other common ingredients for the filling include curry leaves, chilies, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, onions, and some salt to taste. Some recipes add some shredded coconut to the chapati to add a bit of crunch.
For special occasions, Maldivians cook kulhi boakibaa. In simple terms, this dish is a fish cake. The main ingredients are, once again, tuna and grated coconuts. Coarsely ground rice, soaked in water overnight, provides the fluff of the cake, while chilis, curry leaves, garlic, ginger, onion, lemon juice, and turmeric powder add a spicy kick. Of course, you don’t need to wait for special occasions to sample some kulhi boakibaa. There are a lot of cafes around town that serve this savory dish.
Bis keemiya is like a hybrid of a samosa and lumpia. Essentially, it’s a deep-fried pastry stuffed with a filling made from tuna, hard-boiled eggs, some sliced onions, and shredded cabbage. As usual, curry leaves and chili feature heavily as spices. Some recipes also include cumin and cardamom powder.
Bis keemiya makes for an excellent merienda and is also a common food to include in children’s lunch boxes.
To counter all that spiciness and savoriness, you can have some aluvi boakibaa. It’s a cassava and coconut cake with an incredibly soft and smooth texture. It’s a little like the Philippines’ own cassava cake but made only with cassava, soft coconut meat, sugar, and butter. An interesting ingredient that adds a unique flavor is either jasmine or rose water. It’s arguably the most popular Maldivian dessert, and is beloved by both locals and tourists.
What’s great about Maldivian food is that you’re almost 100 percent guaranteed to have fresh ingredients, especially in terms of seafood. The flavors also share a few similarities to Filipino cuisine, especially with common ingredients like fish, coconut, and root crops. Try some of these dishes when you finally book that Maldives tour you’ve been dreaming of. They will certainly complete your island paradise experience.