Strongly influenced by neighbouring countries such as India and Sri Lanka, the cuisine of the Maldives relies heavily on fresh produce due to the country's tropical climate. Fish features often on the typical Maldivan menu, with varieties such as tuna, swordfish and grouper being particularly popular. Mouthwatering seafood such as lobster and crab is also incorporated into the country’s most emblematic dishes. Accompanied by coconut rice, onion, lime and chilli, Maldivan cuisine can be described as fresh, zingy and spicy! A traditional Maldivian curry is sure to include creamy coconut milk, similar to the curries of southern India and Sri Lanka. Here are some of the country’s most popular dishes that you can expect to encounter on a trip to the Maldives.
This triangular-shaped snack, similar to a samosa is usually baked or fried. The outer layer is made from a unique dough containing potatoes, lentils and coriander, whilst the interior is usually stuffed with fish, curry spices and onions. Other varieties include a spiced chicken filling, which is recognisable by a red mark on the outer dough. This is Maldivan party food at its finest and is often seen at weddings and celebrations.
Like much of Asia, the Maldives loves its curries! This is the most popular, everyday dish you can expect to find on a typical Maldivan menu. Although the type of curry varies across the archipelago, most curries will be creamy, with added coconut milk and might include either fish, chicken or egg. The sauces tend to be thick and full of the delicious flavours of cumin, turmeric and curry leaves.
There are a few unique drinks that you will find if you travel to the Maldives. Perhaps the best-known is Raa, a lightly fermented drink made from the juice of the palm tree trunk. At around 4% alcoholic volume, it is the Maldivian equivalent to beer and is a favourite drink of the locals. Coconut milk is another popular drink in the Maldives, used in cooking and as a refreshing and nutritious beverage. Finally, you cannot visit the Maldives without enjoying its fine selection of tea. Black, green and oolong teas are widely enjoyed in the Maldives and it’s not uncommon for locals to add slices of lemon and apples to their hot drinks for an added fruity twist.
This simple, yet wholesome dish is a mainstay of traditional Maldivian cuisine. Basically a clear fish broth, usually containing tuna, the dish gets its flavour from added onions, curry leaves, chillis and lime juice. Normally, you’ll find Garudiya served hot alongside steamed rice.
A typical Maldivian snack, these delicious, deep-fried dumplings are ball-shaped and about the size of a ping-pong ball. Encased in a dough made of wheat or rice flour is a filling of flaked tuna, grated coconut, chilli and onion. Once coated in flour, the bite-sized balls are deep-fried and usually served as a snack alongside a cup of hot, sweet tea.
Another favourite Maldivan snack, Kuli Boakiba is similar to a fish cake and, once again, features tuna, a favourite ingredient in Maldivan cuisine. Rice, tuna and coconut are combined with a variety of spices, garlic and onion until they form a thick dough. At this point, the mixture is spread onto a tray and baked until golden brown. A high-protein, delicious snack, still widely eaten in the Maldives today.
Mas Huni is similar to fish pate and is a mixture of grated coconut, flaked tuna, onion, chilli and lime juice. This mixture is usually served alongside warm roti flatbread as a breakfast dish, where it is usually scooped up and rolled up inside the flatbread for an easy, flavoursome breakfast.
The paradise archipelago of the Maldives has a number of unique sweet treats. Huni Folhi is a favourite dessert dish and consist of rice flour pancakes made with a batter of grated coconut, sugar, eggs and rosewater. Bodibaiy is another dessert option for those with a sweet tooth. Similar to rice pudding, this sweet rice dish is a simple staple of Maldivan cuisine. Finally, Foni Boakiba is similar to Bodibaiy but, as a final step, it is baked like a cake and served with almonds. A delicious, spoon-less alternative to enjoy with a cup of steaming black tea.