Real food of the Maldives

One problem with holidaying on the maldives is that the food on most islands is ‘internationalised’. This is a pity because the indigenous cuisine of the native peoples is wonderful. The food of the Maldives is a synthesis of Arabian and Sri Lankan styles.

Fish and coconuts are the two locally abundant items that feature heavily in the cooking of the Maldives. Indeed, the Coconut fish curry is the staple food of this seafaring people.

For starch, tubers, millet and breadfruit are still used, though imported rice has supplanted them as the classic accompaniment to curry.

Maldives Street Food

You are not as likely to come across these little gems on holiday islands as you are on the streets of Male. Keemia are particularly wonderful and should definitely be sought out.

  • fihunu mas – barbecued chili fish chunks
  • theluli mas – deep fried chili fish chunks
  • bajiya – fish, coconut, and onion stuffed pastry
  • keemia – deep-fried fish rolls
  • kulhi borkibaa – spicy fishcakes


Maldivan style BBQ fish Marinade

Here are the ingredients for our fish marinade inspired by food we ate on the maldives

  • 4 tablespoons oil of Ghee (clarified butter)
  • 20 g Dried Chilli
  • 10 g Finely chopped Onion
  • 10 g grated Coconut
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt and pepper

Method: Blend ingredients to a paste and marinade small pieces of snapper or similar fish for a minimum of two hours before cooking on the barbecue.

Maldive Pumpkin Curry

(Serves 4)

1 lb of pumpkin
1 small onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon sunflower oil
2 tablespoonfuls desiccated coconut
a few curry leaves
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon black mustard seed
1 oz creamed coconut


  • Peel and deseed the Pumkin and then chop the flesh into 1 inch cubes.
  • Roughly chop the garlic and the onion.
  • Dry roast the coconut until dark brown.
  • Grind the peeled garlic, the chopped onion and the roasted coconut together with a little water in a pestle and mortar.
  • Dissolve the creamed coconut in the hot water.
  • Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds and cook them covered on a low heat until the seeds start to pop. Add the rest of the spices and fry for half a minute.
  • Now add all the ingredients to the pan and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Serve with rice.


Maldive Smoked Fish Balls Recipe

These delicious ‘Gulha’ use smoked fish and coconut which is an unusual but deeply delicious combination


400g hot-smoked fish (John Dory is good, but anything goes)
100g grated coconut
1 inch ginger
2 red chillies
2 onions
1 lemon
1 tsp turmeric powder
250g plain flour
oil for frying.

A very simple recipe. Just blend everything together to form a dough which you shape into balls and fry till golden.

For a more authentic version, blend everything except the flour. Now create a dough from flour water and a little salt. Roll out into disks, put a little of the fish filling in the middle and smooth the dough around to make a shell. Fry until the outside is golden.