Johnny’s back this week to talk about local Maldivian food and what we thought of it!
As someone who enjoys other cultures, Beth tries to expose me to many different experiences when we’re abroad. This usually includes things that I might not expect, like going to a maid café in Japan or checking out the night life in Thailand. However, what I do expect is to sample local foods when we travel. Whether it is xiao long bao in Shanghai or yakiniku in Japan. I am generally open to indulging myself when we travel and being in the Maldives was no different.
With such diverse marine life swimming in the vast Laccadive Sea that surrounds the Maldives, it should come as no surprise that a staple in the Maldivian diet is seafood. Fish here is cooked many different ways. We saw it broiled, grilled, baked, boiled, and even raw. With each meal there was always a different fish-based dish for us to enjoy, like fish curry, steamed fish, spiced baked fish, and simple fried fish.
Maldivian food is heavily influenced by Sri Lankan and Indian foods due to their close proximity, with a heavy emphasis on spices and curries with rice as main dishes. If you are like me and cannot handle spicy food, don’t worry as Maldivian cooking is milder than both Sri Lankan and Indian cooking.
One of the reasons the dishes here are milder, are because they also often incorporate coconut. The coconut fruit reigns supreme here as many dishes call for the use of some part of the coconut. Coconut oil is used to grease up the pan and also gives foods a different aroma than western cooking which mostly uses corn, canola, or olive oil. And instead of using plain water or milk, it is often coconut water or coconut milk that gets substituted.
One of our favorite dishes we ate was called a hopper. Made with egg, rice flour and coconut milk, this interesting dish retains the shape of the pan it is made in. While Beth added various hot spices to the top of hers, I enjoyed mine plain and simple.
We also enjoyed coconut curries and of course, various coconut cakes, like nanu cake, for dessert.
Most dishes were served with a side of rice, but other types of carbs are available through things like naan, papadum, roti and chapati. Before this trip, we had never tried chapati (let alone heard of it), but chapati is kind of like a roti, except it is thinner because it does not have as many layers. It also to me seemed less fluffy than roti bread. Nonetheless, chapatti paired well with the curries that were served or with the myriad of sauces found in the Maldives.[divider]