I didn’t really know what to expect of food in the Maldives. I sort of thought it would be really based around seafood, which I would have to say is my least favourite protein. I sort of thought maybe it would have some similarities to Indian cuisine – after all it’s not too far away. Indian food is one of my favourites. And when it came to fruit and veg, well I didn’t really know what to expect.
Also, since we traveling to the Maldives during Ramadan, I just wasn’t sure if we should expect a whole lot of variety anyway.
Basically, I didn’t have a whole heap of expectations of pre-conceived ideas about the food of the Maldives.
While I can’t say I was totally blown away by the Maldivian cuisine, I certainly wasn’t disappointed either. And for a person who doesn’t like a lot of fish, I found plenty of things on the menu that I could eat.
The biggest staple of Maldivian food has to be seafood. And even thought I’m not a huge seafood fan, I have to mention it here. All the fish you eat here is freshly caught in (usually) a sustainably manner – except for the tuna – that still came in a can for some reason. All the fish that we ate was freshly caught the same day, and some of it we can even caught ourselves.
We visited three islands while we were in the Maldives, and we didn’t once see a chicken running around, let along any larger farm animal. The Maldives simply don’t have the natural resources necessary to keep domesticated animals for meat. That being said, you can still find chicken and beef, but it will almost 100% be imported.
One thing you will not find in the Maldives is pork. As a strictly Muslim country it is simply not allowed into the country at all.
Again, as a country with no cow farming operations, there is also a stark lack of dairy products. I has powdered milk with my coffee in the morning, and the cheese I ate came in pre-wrapped slices. It’s simply not a big dairy country.
Fruit and Veg
Everywhere we went in the Maldives was sandy. There was almost no fertile soil for farming and crops. The family veggie plot was planted in planters, not in the ground. So again, like most other things, most fruit and veg will be imported in the Maldives.
Traditional foods to try
Almost all traditional Maldivian recipes will include either fish, coconut, or both. Another popular fruit is the bread fruit. We loved the dried breadfruit chips that were always served as snacks at our guest house.
Garudiya is a clear fish soup that is very popular in the Maldives and can be made with any type of fish. Another popular food is a fried dumpling filled with spicy ground fish.
But probably the food you will encounter the most in the Maldives is beautiful, fresh caught, whole fish.