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Updated by Joanna James on Aug 19, 2021
Headline for Eating in the Maldives - Embark on a culinary journey in an untapped paradise
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Eating in the Maldives - Embark on a culinary journey in an untapped paradise

Since more than 90 per cent of Maldives is covered by the sea, it is not surprising to find coconut, seafood and starches prominently in many Maldivian dishes. The cuisine here is a blend of Sri Lankan, Arabic, Indian and oriental influences. Wondering how to dine like a pro? Here are some important facts.

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Eating

The beautiful archipelago of Maldives is not only home to swaying tropical palms, sandy beaches and gin-clear beaches surrounded by stunning marine life. It offers unique and delicious traditional food for travellers from all around the world. Traditional cuisine in Maldives (Dhivehi cuisine) provides a variety of flavours and tastes ranging from wood-fired chapati bread, delicious spicy curries to crunchy snacks.

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Main ingredients

Today, the traditional Maldivian cuisine has three key ingredients, namely fish, coconut and starches containing vegetables and grains. The culinary traditions in Maldives have been passed down through generations. Its unique culinary identity can easily be recognized by its delicate sweetness, mild spiciness and overall exotic taste. If you are a first-timer to Maldives, your culinary experience can totally depend on the hotel or resort you choose to stay. What is more unlikely is to get a complete Maldivian experience since most of the resorts are detached from local life. If you are staying at one of the many resorts such as Adaaran Club Rannalhi, step into a nearby restaurant to get the advantage of having a real Maldives dining experience.

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Staples and specialities

The main locally available products are seafood and fish. Other than that, yams, papayas, mangoes, pineapples and coconuts are essentially grown in Maldives. These products indicate the historical simplicity of Maldivian cuisine. More exciting influences have been added to the traditional food thanks to trade relations with Africa, Far East, Arabia and the Indian sub-continent. It is a known fact that the Maldivian cuisine is hot and spicy in its nature. This is mainly due to the influence of the Indian subcontinent.

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Traditional cuisine

The ideal way to immerse in the traditional Maldivian cuisine will be to try out your gastronomic journey like a local. As the first step, prepare your palate for fish patties, fish soup or spicy fish curry. For those who are more concerned about starting the day with a healthy breakfast can try out 'mas huni'. It is a healthy mixture of coconut, tuna, chilli, onion often tasted with roshi (similar to an Indian chapati) and tea. Can you guess the main export commodity in Maldives? It's 'Maldive fish'. While it is a principal ingredient in most of the Maldivian dishes, countries in South Asia such as Sri Lanka widely use Maldive fish as a supporting ingredient in local dishes.

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Snacks and light meals

Maldives has a fair share of snacks and light meals that entice your taste buds. Hedhikaa is one such example. It is similar to samosa and usually, this finger food is served as an evening snack in Maldives. After a busy day of exploring the island paradise, head over to a teashop and savour some of their unique short eats such as gulha (fried dough balls filled with fish and spices), kuli boakiba (spicy fish cakes), fihunu mas (fish pieces with chilli coating) and keemia (fried fish rolls in batter). If you are a sweet tooth there is a range of sweetmeats to satisfy your cravings. Try out Zileybee and tiny bananas (coloured coils of sugared, fried batter) and little bowls of bondi bai (rice pudding). Generally, any food which is bright or light coloured will be sweet while anything brown will either contain fish or it is savoury.

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Vegetarians and vegans

No matter whether you choose to stay at a high-end or an average resort, there will be a set of meals (rather than a buffet) with veggies. You will find a ratatouille or at least an unimaginative pasta dish. For vegans, a holiday in Maldives will be quite challenging. However, since vegan lifestyles have become normal, there will be many options in high-end resorts.

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