You most probably have heard about the Maldives being the perfect vacation spot. But, we bet you haven’t heard of the traditional Maldives food that’ll take your trip to new heights.
You can visit loads of super interesting landmarks in Maldives, all while enjoying the local cuisine. So, dive deeper into this guide as we share with you the top Maldives dishes you have to try.
What’s Special About Maldives Food?
Maldives cuisine is a delightful blend of flavors and ingredients that reflect the country’s tropical location and cultural influences. One of the standout features of Maldivian fare is the abundance of seafood. Given its location on the Indian Ocean, the archipelago offers an array of fish like tuna, snapper and mahi-mahi.
These fish are often grilled or curried. The Maldivians are also known for their skill in preparing smoked fish, known as mas huni. This is a staple in their diet.
Coconut is another key ingredient in their dishes. Among the cool facts about Maldives is that the coconut is its national tree.
Many recipes use coconut milk and grated coconut to add a creamy and tropical touch to the food. You’ll find this tropical fruit used in curries, rice dishes and even in desserts like bondibai, a sticky rice pudding.
Spices play a crucial role in Maldives cuisine as well, with common seasonings including curry leaves, cardamom and cinnamon. These spices add depth and flavor to dishes without overwhelming the palate.
Most Famous Maldives Food
Mas Huni (Coconut And Tuna Salad)
A highly popular traditional food in Maldives, mas huni is a dish packed with flavor. It celebrates fresh tuna from the Indian Ocean and coconuts abundantly available in the country. Onions, green chilies and lime or lemon add depth and delicious aroma to the mixture of flaky seafood and grated coconut.
Usually, the Maldivian flatbread huni roshi compliments the dish and gives it textural contrast. Breakfast is complete with a cup of Maldivian tea.
Breakfast Items In Maldives Cuisine
Masroshi (Stuffed Flatbread)
Masroshi, one of the best foods from Maldives, is typically enjoyed during breakfast or as a snack. It is a simple flatbread that is cooked until golden brown. The bread is crispy on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside.
What sets it apart is the tasty fillings. It looks like little pancakes packed with the traditional flavors of Maldives, such as coconut, tuna, onion, curry leaves, and aromatic spices. The warm stuffing gives masroshi a satisfying bite.
It is one of the many Indian-influenced fare in the country. Masroshi looks like stuffed parathas.
Bajiya (Tuna-Filled Pastries)
Breakfast in the Maldives often celebrates the country’s love for seafood. Bajiya is one such item.
Inspired by the most common Indian street food, bajiya is a perfect dose of carbs with a golden pastry. The filling inside is flaky tuna with onions and traditional Maldivian curry spices that taste delicious. They are also fun to look at, as they are typically shaped like triangles.
In a single bite, you get a crispy shell containing warm, fishy stuffing with a hit of heat from chilies. You can enjoy this Maldives dish with tea or coffee as a perfect savory start to the day.
Saagu Bondibai (Sago Pudding)
Bondibai is a traditional sweet dish of Maldives cuisine. It is typically made with sticky rice, coconut and condensed milk. Saagu bondibai replaces the rice with sago to give you dessert for breakfast.
Sago pearls are boiled until almost done and then cooked again in coconut milk and condensed milk. The addition of coconut milk makes the pudding extra creamy. Pandan leaves, rose water, or other ingredients are included to add flavor.
Huni Roshi (Coconut Flatbread)
Huni roshi is a flatbread that’s a staple dish in Maldives cuisine. Grated coconut is added to its batter, which gives it a tropical sweetness. Because of this, huni roshi is similar to the globally loved pancake.
The flatbread is griddled until it is golden brown with crumbly edges. Being on the thin side, it is usually more crispy than fluffy.
You can enjoy this dish any time of day as part of a meal or a snack. At breakfast time, it is used to scoop up mas huni.
Soups and Sauces In Maldives Cuisine
Garudhiya (Clear Fish Broth)
Garudhiya is a timeless food that celebrates the heavy influence of the ocean in Maldives cuisine. This is a clear broth made from fresh fish, typically tuna. Onions, curry leaves, chili and lime juice are added for flavor.
Lacking any creamy or heavy ingredients, garudhiya is fresh and light. Rice or flatbread are two side dishes that complement this warm soup. Maldivians also like eating it with fried fish and fried leaves.
Rihaakuru (Fermented Fish Paste)
Rihaakuru is an umami-rich condiment that stays true to the taste of Maldives food. The preparation involves cooking tuna with salt and water. The leftover scraps are ground into a thick paste that can range in color from brown to black.
This process gives it a pungent smell and that deep, salty flavor that goes well with Maldives cuisine. Locals eat rihaakuru with rice, flatbread and other dishes. This condiment is also used in soups, curries, dressings or dipping sauces.
The fish paste is an important traditional culinary staple that can be found in most Maldivian houses. It reflects the influence of tuna and the ocean in Maldives cooking.
Maldive Fish Sambal (Dried Tuna Condiment)
This is a perfect flavor-filled addition to any of the foods from Maldives. Sambal is sun-dried, shredded fish, which adds an extra layer of umami to the dish. Traditional spices and coconut are added to elevate the sambal’s taste.
The Maldive fish sambal has a balance of saltiness from the fish, spiciness from the curry leaves and chili, sweetness from the coconut and tang from the lime zest. It can be used to prepare any type of stock, dressing or dip.
Meat Dishes In Maldives Cuisine
Kukulhu Riha (Chicken Curry)
One of the best dishes in the country, kukulhu riha showcases chicken instead of seafood. It is a beloved halal food in the Maldives.
Tender pieces of chicken are cooked in aromatic spices like curry leaves. This meat is then simmered in coconut milk, infusing it with tasty flavor and creamy texture. Cardamom and cloves make it fragrant, while scotch bonnets add a bit of heat..
You can enjoy this special curry with rice or flatbread. It is a homey meal that shows the warmth and comfort of Maldives cuisine.
Mas Riha (Fish Curry)
This famous food in Maldives is a seafood lover’s dream. Staying in line with the taste of Maldives cuisine, mas riha is a flavorful fish curry. Aromatic spices give this dish its traditional taste and coconut milk gives it a bit of sweetness and a velvety texture.
Mas riha is typically served atop rice, with an extra drizzle of coconut milk for more creaminess, if desired. With each bite, the natural fattiness of the fish blends harmoniously with the spices and coconut milk. Fish curry is one of the most eaten dishes in the Maldives because of how filling it is.
Fihunu Mas (Grilled Fish)
Fihunu mas is another traditional food in Maldives that showcases the riches of the Indian Ocean. It is the Maldivian version of grilled fish that’s popularly cooked along the beach.
It typically uses a large fish that’s been gutted, cleaned and cut. The fish is then rubbed with a mix of Maldives spices before cooking over hot coals. Like most other flavorful Maldives foods, fihunu mas is served with rice or flatbread, along with vegetables or spicy chili sauce.
Vegan/Vegetarian Food In Maldives Cuisine
Banbukeyo Harisa (Breadfruit Curry)
Being a tropical paradise, Maldives comes with a unique set of local fruits and vegetables. These local plants help curate a whole menu of vegetarian foods in Maldives, including this popular curry.
Breadfruit, or banbukeyo as it is locally known, has a meaty texture. This makes it an ideal protein substitute. When simmered in coconut milk, it soaks up the creaminess and the spices, so each piece is oozing with Maldivian flavors.
This dish has a slightly sweet taste, thanks to the breadfruit. But, overall it has a very balanced flavor. This is a homey dish for all vegans and vegetarians.
Boshi Mashuni (Banana Flower Salad)
Boshi Mashuni is a banana flower salad beloved as a quick lunch or dinner in Maldives cuisine. It showcases bright, herbaceous flavors of local ingredients, namely banana blossoms.
Thinly sliced banana flower combines with the crunch of onion, fresh lime, and chili heat. Grated coconut adds sweetness and extra crisp. This results in a dish with layers of complementary textures and zesty tastes.
It offers something fresh and light to offset the heat. With its easy preparation, this salad graces tables across the islands daily.
Tharukaaree Riha (Vegetable Curry)
Garden vegetables find their way into this comforting Maldives food. Tharukaaree riha features chunks of pumpkin, slivers of sweet potato, and other veggies.
These ingredients simmer gently in a sauce of turmeric, chili, pandan and curry leaves, and rich coconut milk. The mix of vegetables absorbs the flavors of the delicate yet fragrant curry gravy.
Tharukaaree riha is a simple, quick and nutritious dish. This vegetable curry graces local tables often as an easy family meal.
Maldivian Snacks In Maldives Cuisine
Kulhi Boakiba (Fish Cake)
Kulhi Boakiba are Maldivian fish cakes that are popular local snacks. They distill the bounty of Maldives’ ocean waters into a savory patty with hints of spices and chili heat.
Fish combines with a binder of rice, coconut, curry leaves, and freshly squeezed lime before baking or frying. The cake crisps on the outside while the inside remains moist with sweet flakes of fish and lime accents.
This is one of the Maldives dishes that embody island cooking traditions. They are unfussy but full of bright flavor thanks to ultra fresh fish, lime, and coconut influences.
Bis Keemiyaa (Filled Pastry)
Bis keemiya are a quick and easy snack for the residents of Maldives. A cross between samosas and spring rolls, these are bite-sized pastries baked to perfection. The crispy yet flaky golden outer dough serves as an ideal contrast to the tasty filling.
Fish, cabbage and boiled eggs along with the classic aromatic spices typically flavoring foods in the Maldives make a delicious stuffing. Locals typically enjoy bis keemiya with spicy tea or coffee.
Kurukuru (Fried Yams)
Kurukuru bring Maldives’ bounty of starchy tropical tubers to the table. Sliced yams are fried in butter and served hot and crisp.
This Maldivian french fries make frequent appearances on the breakfast table, as snacks at tea time, or paired with curries and rice at dinner. Their crispy texture and sweet, aromatic flavors are served with different sauces.
Traditional Beverages In Maldives Cuisine
Raa (Coconut Palm Toddy)
Raa is a unique beverage that has more traditional value than most in the Maldives cuisine. This elixir is acquired from coconut palm trees scattered throughout the island. It is harvested by skilled toddy tappers who go up the trunk to collect the sap from the flower buds.
Freshly harvested raa is extremely sweet yet refreshing. It turn into a mild alcoholic beverage if fermented. It can also be used for cooking.
Sai’s aromatic steam wisping from cups signals a welcome break in Maldives. This sweet tea offers respite from humid days.
The black tea brew often includes spices like cardamom and cinamon, which releases their aroma into each sip. Condensed milk can also be added for a rich sweetness.
It is commonly shared among friends or served welcoming guests. Sai typically accompanies sweet bites, savory snacks and other Maldives food.
Suji (Semolina Sweet Drink)
Suji beckons when Maldivians crave something soothing and sweet. The beverage features the nuttiness of roasted semolina steeped into condensed milk.
The semolina softens into a thick creaminess in the warm milk. Dates, raisins, or cardamom pods may add depth and dimension to the suji’s sweetness. It is also often scented with vanilla or rose extracts.
Warm suji is an energy booster, especially during Ramadan. Chilled suji transforms into a stiffer pudding, but its coconut-roasted semolina flavor remains a respite for Maldivians on hot days.
Best Maldives Desserts In Maldives Foods
Dhonkeyo Kajuru (Sweet Banana Fritter)
Dhonkeyo Kajuru highlights Maldives’ bounty of fresh bananas. Sliced or mashed bananas are coated with a spiced batter before deep frying to perfection. Each fritter becomes golden and crisp on the outside while the banana within melts into sweetness.
It is traditionally served warm and crispy as a snack. Dhonkeyo Kajuru’s contrast of crunch and fruitiness shows off bananas’ versatility. Sweet, soft bananas nestled within cardamom-scented batter create one of the most iconic Maldives dishes.
Gulha (Deep-Fried Dumplings)
Gulha is considered the national food of Maldives. These are dumplings with a crispy exterior and a filling of fresh tuna, coconut, chili and curry leaves.
Traditional recipes call for mixing the tuna with grated coconut and spices before stuffing into a savory dough. The aromatic flavors mingle deliciously within each fritter-like dumpling upon frying.
Glistening with oil, gulha arrives as an appetizer or snack across Maldives. Their golden crunch and tuna-coconut filling make them irresistible bites.
Huni Folhi (Coconut Pancake)
Huni Folhi puts a Maldivian spin on the classic pancake. It incorporates freshly grated coconut into the batter before frying to a crisp, golden brown. Each bite bursts with the sweet aroma and taste of coconut.
The Maldives dessert makes regular appearances at breakfast along with morning tea or coffee. Crisp, aromatic, and deeply comforting, these coconut pancakes is a staple in Maldives cuisine.
Addu Bon’di (Coconut Candy)
Addu Bon’di is a beloved Maldivian sweet featuring grated coconut simmered slowly with sugar into a fudge-like concoction. Though simple, making Addu Bon’di is an art. The coconut must toast to a perfect golden brown to allow the full nutty flavor to emerge and caramelize.
The coconut candy is wrapped in banana leaves, so it forms a cylindrical shape. You’ll have to unwrap it first to take a sweet bite. Addu Bon’di is a staple at celebrations and festivals across Maldives.
Gulab Jamun (Fried Dough Balls)
Gulab Jamun is an example of Indian food in Maldives. The soft, fluffy dough balls are made of milk, flour and sugar.
After frying to a deep brown, they are then soaked in a sweet rose-scented syrup. Subtly spiced with cardamom, the honey-like syrup permeates the dessert.
The sugar rush comes as the crisp exterior gives way to reveal the mouthwatering softness within. Gulab jamun is a beloved after-dinner treat, allowing Maldivians to indulge their sweet tooth while savoring aromatic rose notes.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Discovering Traditional Maldives Food
The best way to make the most of your trip to Maldives is to truly immerse yourself in the place and enjoy with the locals. When you’re trying all the different Maldives foods, have a chat with the cook and learn more about what the dish represents.Be sure to try all the mouth-watering Maldives cuisine as you are strolling on the beach by the calming waters.