Embarking on a culinary journey through the vibrant archipelago of the Maldives unveils a tapestry of flavours that reflect the unique cultural tapestry of this tropical paradise. Renowned for its pristine white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, the Maldives is equally rich in its gastronomic offerings. From the tantalizing aroma of mas huni, a traditional Maldivian breakfast dish, to the exquisite taste of garudhiya, a fish soup that captures the essence of the Indian Ocean, each bite offers a glimpse into the Maldivian way of life.


Drawing inspiration from neighbouring nations such as India and Sri Lanka, Maldivian culinary delights showcase a fusion of traditional flavours that carve out a distinctive identity. Centred around coconut, fish, and starches, the cuisine yields a unique amalgamation of mild spiciness, subtle sweetness, and an exotic palate, offering a sensory experience that reflects the rich cultural tapestry of the Maldives.


In the Maldives, coconuts, referred to as ‘kurumba’ in Dhivehi, hold profound significance in both the culture and culinary landscape, underscored by the declaration of the coconut palm as the national tree. Integral to Maldivian cuisine, coconuts manifest in various forms, including grated, shaved, and liquid coconut milk, also doubling as oil for deep-fried dishes.


Fish plays a pivotal role in Maldivian culinary traditions, with tuna reigning as the most popular variety. The Maldives boasts diverse tuna species, including frigate, little tunny, skipjack, and yellowfin tuna, frequently featured in both fresh and dried dishes. Other sought-after fish species like bigeye scad, mahi-mahi, and mackerel scad also grace Maldivian dining tables within places both public and private, such as the OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo.


Sweet potato
Sweet potato – Image via Flickr

Starches hold a fundamental role in Maldivian gastronomy, finding diverse expressions in tubers like cassava (dandialuvi), sweet potato (kattala), and taro (ala), as well as fruits such as breadfruit (bambukeyo) or screw pine (kashikeyo). Rice, a staple in Maldivian cuisine, is enjoyed either boiled or ground into flour. Boiled tubers and breadfruit are popularly consumed as well – found easily in any Maldives restaurant.