Maldives being at an important crossroad in the Indian Ocean, traders and visitors over time have left their mark on Maldivian cuisine in addition to contributing towards the moulding of the country’s culture and norms.
As the Maldives comprises more sea than land, it is only natural that fish (mainly tuna) have always been the most prominent element of Maldivian food. However, with travelers from different parts of the world, new seasonings and vegetables were introduced in to the country and added to the existing (limited) repertoire of seafood and tubers (e.g. taro & sweet potato). Each new discovery was incorporated into the diet in quantities most palatable to Maldivians. Thus Maldivian cuisine now comprises Arabic, Indian, Sri Lanka and Oriental tastes blended into a unique cuisine that embodies a culinary identity of its own.
Diverse international cuisine including Indian, Thai, oriental, Middle Eastern and continental are available in the resorts. Most resorts have more than one restaurant for you to choose from. If what you have in mind is only a light snack then coffee shops in resorts would be the ideal choice. If you are holidaying on one of the many liveaboard vessels operating in the Maldives then many of these too have restaurants while some may offer set menus. However, even those that offer set menus are unlikely to disappoint you. Resorts and liveaboard vessels also offer you a wide range of alcoholic beverages and pork dishes which are both items prohibited by religion and law for the Maldivians and hence not served in inhabited islands.
Eating in the capital Malé would be a very different experience. The hotels, restaurants and most guesthouses serve western and eastern specialties in addition to continental and a few local dishes. The cafés – locally known as hotaa is the best place if you would like to savour the local tastes. You must not leave the Maldives before trying out at least a few of the Maldivian short eats known locally as hedhika. Many of these are unique to the Maldives and come in sweet, sour and spicy varieties.
Here you will find a glossary of some common culinary terms of the Maldives and a few recipes that would introduce you to Maldivian food – including drinks, hedhika, curries and salads. You can have fun trying out these recipes which are guaranteed to tingle your taste buds with tastes that are uniquely Maldivian.