With never having visited the Maldives before my first thoughts when I landed in the Maldives were where would I eat and what would I eat. I certainly had no doubt that Maldives would be the ultimate island getaway. Knowing that it is one of the most exotic destinations in the Indian Ocean and I was quite excited.
Maldives is a place I always wanted to and the touch down didn’t disappoint me one bit. Most of the read I found online showed that Maldives lacks cultural depth and experiences, exotically luxurious resorts, good for a holiday for those of us who would also like to experience a new culture wouldn’t be the ideal. I would have agreed in every form had I not found the food culture in the Maldives so uniquely explosive (in a good way!!).
In Male there is plenty of eateries of all kinds, from Pizza to burger to Thai to Indian, everyday culinary delights we all are familiar with but that’s not what you would ideally look for when you go to a new destination is it? But if you look carefully enough for the local shops there’s plenty that could serve you a dish that you’d devour out of sheer marvel. It wasn’t so hard to miss that the cuisine is heavily influenced by the neighbouring countries Sri Lanka and India just as much their language Divehi is. The curries and the rotis (Roshi in Divehi). The only difference is that Maldivian cuisine is not so heavy on spices and even if it is, they are from a rather narrower selection of ingredients.
If I am to pick the staples in the island and which seem to have an infinite supply is of fish and coconut. That is not a hard one to guess either. Coconut milk is at the heart of any traditional dish that is made in Maldives. – Some of the favourites we got to try were Garudhiya – full chunks of smoked tuna with garlic and onion, chillies served with roshi or just rice.
Kando Kukulhu yet another dish made with Tuna richly marinaded with strong Asian spices including cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, pandan and curry leaves, and then tied on to the shape of coconut stripes. It is then brought to boil in cream of coconut until it’s a curry. It is served hot with coconut milk infused rice. The creamy and spicy combination was something quite out of this world. Given that I hail from Sri Lanka it hits close to home and not that difficult to make either, but something in me told that the true taste has something to do with the air in the Maldives as well. And I certainly am used to spicy food and it was quite refreshing to find that Maldivians have a fiery palate as well.
Another sweet delights down the streets in Male are the bakeries and coffee shops. There is a growing culture amongst the expats in the Maldives to visit for a cuppa and just wind down and reunite with the friends who have returned to the capital from other islands. Tea is close to heart and the small cafes, some run by quite famous chefs with over 70 cook books as well, serve a sumptuous variety of sweet and savoury treats. If you want a more private, laid back and not too far away from the capital, Kurumba Maldives is just a ten-minute speedboat ride away from Malé.
Alcohol is a subject on its own. Maldives being a proud Islamic nation they have banned the consumption as well as bringing in Alcohol or pork into the country. So in the local islands there is no place you will find alcohol for sale. On the contrary the only exception would be in the Hulhule Island which is connected by a bridge to Male, and there is just about one hotel – Hulhule Island Hotel that serves alcohol. This is about a 5 minute bus ride or a ferry ride from Male or Hulhumale.
A good one hour walk around the one of the smallest capitals in the world if I am not mistaken, you will be able to see what’s on display at the local markets. The catch of the day is the hottest pick where the freshest of the days catch are on display and it’s a seafood gala right there for you. The little tuk shops will have other local made delicacies from homemade jars of jam, fish sauce and crispy nibbles made out of dried yams. A guided city tour certainly doesn’t cost more than USD 60 per head you would be surprised what you can find during this one and a half hour walk through Male.
Of course we were not going to spend our entire holiday in the capital we had our fair share of luxury awaiting just as anyone who visits Maldives is most likely to do. Looking forward to continue our culinary adventure we took off on our sea plane to the Louis Vuitton of Maldives – Cheval Blan. Well the culinary experience there I am yet to find words to describe and I will hopefully on of these days and will surely share with you the other worldly experience there as well.
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