Food in the Maldives is just as exotic and bold as you’d expect, but with some traditional ingredients that are more familiar than you realize.
The Maldives is one destination that commands attention when it comes to stunning vistas, perfect seaside escapes, and remote tranquility. One aspect of this gorgeous destination that not many people travel there for is the food, which is surprising – considering how good it is!
Around the world, each island has its own exotic cuisine and flavors that are unique to its culture and geographical location. The Maldives is unique in the sense that its food is unlike any other island and as such, its dishes have been around for centuries. Its traditions go into every recipe and with every recipe, another dynamic flavor is born out of local Maldivian ingredients. Flavors from foods such as tuna, coconut, lime, and curry leaves are all imperative to its cuisine, and these are the dishes that travelers should be on the lookout for. In between sunbathing and enjoying the tropical peace, why not sit down for an authentic Maldives bite?
One dish that’s found commonly throughout the Maldives – and for a good reason – is fish curry. This dish came out of the abundance of fresh fish that are caught daily on these unique islands, resulting in dishes that always contain fresh seafood, such as this one. Fish curry is made with any number of local fish including mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, frigate tuna, little tunny, bigeye scad, wahoo, and skipjack tuna. Along with fish, the main ingredients in this curry are coconut and starch which give the curry a rich thickness that’s bold in flavor and slightly sweet.
The fried balls that can be found as snacks or starts are called gulha, and they’re made with tuna, coconut, chilies, and chopped onions before being fried. One bite will tell travelers everything they need to know about this small dish: the inside is pillow-like and full of flavor while the outside is crispy and crunchy. Additions such as lime, turmeric, and curry leaves add even more flavor to what’s already a delicious snack, and they’re often served with coffee or tea.
Tuna is a beloved ingredient in the Maldives and appears in its most popular dishes, including mas huni. The base of mas huni is tuna, chilies, onions, and coconut, and, sometimes, other ingredients are added such as muranga pods or butternut squash, making it a heartier dish. Roshi, which is a flatbread, is often served with it, so while it’s seemingly simple, it’s also delicious with layers of ingredients that exude local Maldive flavors.
This stuffed dough is a delightful treat in the Maldives and it’s filled with so many good things: coconut, tuna, ginger, garlic, hot peppers, curry leaves, lime, and onions. These flavors together are an unbeatable combination and symbolize authentic Maldivian cuisine, with each note hitting flavor after flavor, surprising for such a seemingly simple snack. The dough is crispy on the outside with a tender inside thanks to all of its ingredients, and the hardest part about eating masroshi will be stopping after only one.
Not surprisingly, lobster is the most popular dish in the Maldives and while travelers may have had this delicacy before, they’ve never had it cooked Maldives-style. So, what exactly is ‘Maldives-style’? It actually means a myriad of different things – every chef and restaurant will have their own twist on lobster and will serve it as such, meaning the lobster at one location can vary entirely from one that’s within walking distance. It’s a specialty that’s just as unique to the person cooking it as it is to the person eating it, and this is what makes it such an incredible food experience.
Even cake in the Maldives is completely different from what a person would typically expect. With a base of sweet cassava and coconut, this cake is unbelievably delicious and has just the right amount of sweetness and a buttery texture, making it like no other cake in the world. It’s the most popular dessert in the Maldives and is loved equally by both the locals and travelers, and this is also why it’s so easy to find around the islands. The ingredients are simple: coconut, cassava, sugar, and jasmine flower water are all that goes into making this dessert so good.