The Maldivian cuisine has strong influences from the neighboring countries, more specifically from India and Sri Lanka. For instance, Maldives, like India, is a fan of curries, which is locally called riha and is usually accompanied by roshi, the Maldives’ version of India’s flattened bread. But beneath the flavor and cooking influences is Maldivian’s distinct tang – a different kind of sweetness, a milder spiciness, and an overall exotic taste.
Because the country is entirely surrounded with waters, fish is a dominant element of Maldivian cuisine. Whether curried, steamed, or fried, fish meals always come out luscious and filling. Coconut is another major element in Maldivian traditional cuisine, which adds a milky flavor to dishes, particularly to curries. And like in most Asian countries, rice – together with side dishes made up of lime, chilies, and onions – completes a Maldivian meal.
When visiting Maldives, make sure to have a fill of the following local foods:
Kulhi boakibaa is a Maldivian fish cake and is considered a snack food (hedhikaa). Usually made of tuna and coconut, this traditional Maldivian short eat is somewhat spicy, which gives it its added gastronomical appeal.
Kulhi boakibaa is available in restaurants and cafés.
Like kulhi boakibaa, gulha is a Maldivian short eat and is widely associated with fish balls. But what makes it different from fish balls is its exotic and delectable filling. The filling, which is usually made of smoked tuna, coconut, curry leaves, onion, ginger, lemon, turmeric, chili, and salt, is stuffed into dough of coconut and flour. The dough is then shaped into balls and deep-fried.
Gulha is available in restaurants and similar establishments, but many households are now making their own gulha. However, it takes a sensitive palate to make a gulha that nicely combines the unique flavors of all the ingredients.
This popular triangular short eat is often served during special occasions such as weddings and children’s parties. It is so much like the South Asia’s samosa, but unlike samosa, which is stuffed with a mixture of potatoes, peas, coriander, and lentils, bajiyaa is stuffed with dried fish, curry leaves, curry powder, and onion.
Chicken is also usually used, and as a way to identify chicken bajiyaas, a red marking is usually placed on their patty shell. Bajiyaa is either baked or fried.
No visit to Maldives is ever complete without sampling any of its curries. Curries, after all, are one of the Maldivians’ most popular and basic dishes. Although you can have curry in other countries, especially in India, there’s something exquisite about Maldivian curry.
Egg curry is one of the Maldivian curries you should try. It is an everyday dish and second to fish curry in popularity. Recipe for egg curry differs from region to region and from cook to cook, but there is one constant thing in Maldivian egg curry: a thick, flavorful sauce that delights the palate.
Breadfruit is common in Maldives, so it is often added to dishes or cooked and served in itself. Sometimes it is fried. Sometimes coconut milk is added to it, and it is served as curry.
Breadfruit curry is called bambukeylu hiti in Maldives. This is a delectable dish you will not often see outside of the country – you’ll even have a tough time finding recipes for it online – so when you’re in the islands, you simply cannot let the chance to try it pass you by.