The Maldives is a country that is located in the Indian ocean. It has 26 atolls and over a thousand islands that are formed due to coral growth. That being said, the Maldives quite literally far away from most of the large land masses. The islands are small and not all of them are inhabited. One thing that becomes obvious when you visit the country, is the food choices. With a small area of land, cultivation is difficult. It is also difficult to rear animals for food. It does not come as a surprise that fish forms the core ingredient of the food in the Maldives.
The other popular ingredients that are used in the food in the Maldives are chillies and coconut. Coconut trees grow all over the islands and hence coconut is an easily accessible ingredient. Most of the food in the Maldives is fried. They also have some amazing coconut-based curries too. Other ingredients are brought in by boat. As you can well imagine, importing the food drives up the cost. The most expensive things on the island are the fruits and vegetables. Government subsidies help the locals with ingredients like rice though, so it isn’t all that bad.
Our time on the Addu atoll taught us a lot about the food in the Maldives. One of the things that the locals love is their evening tea. They sit around with their friends around 4:30 in the evening indulging in the local snacks. The snacks aren’t expensive. They are usually just 3 MVR per item and they are so tasty.
Bakoba is one of the items of food that we loved in the Maldives.
Baboka was our first introduction to the food in the Maldives. In fact, it remained the one thing that we loved the most throughout our time in the Addu atoll. Bakoba is a fish cake. That’s the best description that I could come up with. It is baked using coconut, fish (mostly tuna), flour and chilli. This makes it a tad bit spicy for people who are used to bland food. Being an Indian it was right up our alley.
The Kiri Bakoba is the sweeter version of the cake. Unlike the regular Bakoba, the Kiri Bakoba is not made of fish. Instead, this cake is made of milk and sugar. It is not overtly sweet but it is definitely delicious.
Hunifolhi is a sweet item food in the Maldives that you have to try.
Hunifolhi is a sweet snack. It is made of rice paste which is stuffed with tender coconut and jaggery. It is a light meal and is one of the items of food in the Maldives that was not fried. At least it was one of the few items that we found that wasn’t. Personally, the Hunifolhi was my favourite. It comes in different types and shapes. Most of the time it is wrapped in a leaf. So, you have to peel the leaf off before eating it. Sometimes though it is peeled and given to you.
Our favourite breakfast food in the Maldives was Mashuni and chapati.
Mashuni is a lot like a fish salad. It is one of the popular items of food in the Maldives and you will find it in the breakfast buffets accompanied by a chapati (bread). Mashuni is usually made of shredded tuna, coconut, lime and chilli. It is light and easy on the tummy. Did I also mention tasty?
Fahgehi Kebab is one of the snacks eaten in the evenings.
Fahgeni kabab were little balls stuffed with fish, coconut, chilli and lime. Kind of like Mashuni fried. The outer coating however is potato and gives the fish a different taste. Fahgehi Kebab is one of the popular items of food in the Maldives that is eaten in the evening.
Tuna is probably the most popular fish on the island. It doesn’t come as a surprise that one of the popular ways to eat it is by frying it. Some people have it as a snack, others combine it with their rice and fish curry as a part of their meal.
Snacks come in all shapes and sizes.
We found that the Maldivians do share some of the same food tastes that Indians do. In fact, some of the words that we use are also the same. Roti/chapati is something that I found on the islands too. For those who don’t know it, the roti and chapati are a form of bread. The Mas Roti however is stuffed with fish paste which makes it so different from the Indian ones. The most popular fish used is… You guessed it! Tuna!
We haven’t tasted the Garudhiya but we were told that it is curry based. Its main ingredients are tuna, lime and onion. You can easily get it at the local stalls as it is one of those popular food items in the Maldives.
As you can see, most of the items on the list revolve around coconut and fish. It may just be that we stayed on the Addu atoll which is far away from the mainland of Male. I do however think that with the large number of islands spread out in the Indian ocean, the locals are forced to rely on the sea and what it provides. The food in the Maldives may not be entirely what we are used to but it sure was tasty!