The Maldives is renowned as a luxurious travel destination and this extends to the exceptional cuisine on offer. Whether you are looking for a taste of local flavours or the skills of international chefs, you will be well satisfied on this island paradise. As the Maldives is around 99 per cent sea, it should come as no surprise to you that fish is the primary food in the region.
Those going on holidays to the Maldives will be able to enjoy a range of cuisine as there’s a mix of Indian, Arabic and Sri Lankan foods to name but a few. Add in the different resorts and it’s possible for you to eat your way around the world.
Here we look at some of dishes native to the paradise islands and the dishes you should try while on holiday.
Local dishes in the Maldives
This smoked tuna dish with coconut is the most common Maldivian breakfast and is usually eaten with freshly-baked Roshi flatbread and sweetened hot tea.
- 1 cup diced smoked tuna
- 1 cup scraped coconut
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 1 finely chopped Chinese capsicum
- Lemon juice and salt to taste
Maldivian Roshi is a staple dish that most locals eat for breakfast. Roshi is also eaten for dinner as a side dish with different types of curries.
Most Maldivians eat Roshi by shredding it into small pieces with their hands and then they add a few ladles of gravy from the curry and mix it up.
- 3 cups plain/all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1½ tsp salt
- Warm water
Garudhiya is a clear fish broth and is a classic Maldivian dish as the broth is based on the type of tuna that is found in the oceans around the islands.
Yellowfin tuna, skipjack and little tunny are traditionally the fish that make up the dish, which is still a favourite among locals.
- 500g tuna fish (cleaned and chopped to medium pieces)
- Curry leaves
- Rampa leaves (Pandan leaves)
- Salt to taste
- 1L water
Fihunu Mas is Maldivian grilled fish and this popular dish is very easy to prepare. Tuna is generally the most common fish used, but reef fish are also used by locals.
The process of making the dish is simple as the whole fish is gutted and a smooth sauce is added to the fish before it is cooked on a BBQ grill until it is done.
- 2 fresh red chillies (or to taste)
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 curry leaves, washed and dried
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- Salt, to taste
- 4 x whole fish (try seabass), gutted and descaled
If you love desserts, then Dhonkeyo Kajuru is a dish you need to try.
It is a hugely popular dessert in the Maldives as this fried banana cake is very tasty. It is easy to make as locals just mash 10 ripe bananas with sugar, add three cups of flour and a cup of dried coconut before mixing this together with vanilla essence.
- 10 ripe bananas
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup dried or scraped coconut
- Rose water or vanilla essence
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
Popular restaurants in the Maldives
The Maldives is full of traditional restaurants as well as eateries offering foods from all over the world. Check out some of the restaurants where you can try some local and international foods.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is unique as it sits 16 feet below the surface of the sea and offers diners 180-degree panoramic views of the coral gardens that are close by.
The restaurant’s food is also highly acclaimed as it serves local Maldivian and European cuisine in a six-course set dinner menu or a four-course lunch menu.
You can try butter poached lobster and white peach salad that’s served with sliced Maldivian dried tuna and vinaigrette or the fishy coconut crusted legine served with curry bisque, steamed sea beans and spicy sea snails.
Thila, which is located in Kurumba Maldives, boasts an a la carte main menu and with the restaurant’s stunning views over the sea, it is a great place to go for breakfast or dinner.
You can try earthy Maldivian grills, spectacular seafood and a variety of classy desserts at Thila. The restaurant serves dishes like Fihunu Mas (grilled tuna) as well as other international dishes such as ox cheek, chicken and Tasmanian salmon.
The restaurant is open seven days a week for breakfast and dinner.
Stingray Beach Inn
Whether you’re after traditional Maldivian specialities or haute cuisine, Stingray Beach Inn has a menu that covers both.
It is one of the best dining experiences you can enjoy during your holiday to the Maldives as the food on offer is so varied.
At breakfast why not try the traditional Maldivian breakfast Mas Huni or enjoy a fruit platter and juice. In the evening you can stop by and enjoy some tasty cocktails on the roof restaurant and watch the Indian Ocean sunset.
This Indian restaurant is located at Newtown Inn on the Hulhumale Island in the Maldives.
Bombay Darbaar doesn’t just serve traditional Indian food as you can also choose from a variety of Mughlia, Chinese and other continental cuisines.
From a variety of curries that come with traditional Maldivian Roshi to pasta, pizza, soups, steaks and omelettes, there’s lots of choice on the menu.
The restaurant is open to the public, although there is a special wing of the restaurant that is only open to in-house guests.
Located on the Mirihi Island Resort is Muraka, which has been built on the end of a jetty over the island’s lagoon, so you can enjoy the dazzling sunset while sipping your drink before a romantic meal.
The restaurant’s menu focuses on seafood and it includes some traditional Maldivian cuisine such as local tuna loin with fried bok choi and crispy potato wonton as well as Maldivian lobster with papaya salad.
There are also international dishes such as Australian lamb rack and crispy duck that you could opt for instead.
Image Credit: Xavier Romero-Frias