Where to eat in Malé, Maldives
Malé is a gourmet’s delight; it offers innumerable regional and international culinary options to tourists who visit the country throughout the year. A sumptuous native fare at the air-conditioned restaurants or open-air cafes lining the waterfront is the best way to appreciate the regional cuisine of the Maldives.
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Most of the five-star luxury hotels in and around Malé serve Thai, Indian, Oriental, Italian and international fare as well as local cuisine, while the restaurants and café shops offer an interesting array of snacks and delicacies along with a hot cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or fresh fruit juices or salads. Maldivians, however, are prohibited from consuming alcohol but are allowed to serve drinks at select resorts in the city.
A visit to the roadside teashop (Sai-Hotaas) is a must during Maldives holidays in order to get familiar with the terrain and to rub shoulders with the locals over a cup of tea and some short eats. Snacks are usually deep fried savoury and sweet eats made using fish, coconut and local breads, and are served along with an assortment of side dishes.
All eateries, irrespective of their ambience, offer delectable delicacies, predominantly based on coconut preparations, fish, the ‘roshi’ bread, and starch preparations made from rice and tubers, and flavours ranging from hot and spicy to sweet and mild. Teashops are traditionally the haunts of men, while women are welcome to visit cafes and restaurants.
Innumerable seafood recipes are on offer, and in fact, a visit to the Maldives would be incomplete without the taste of seafood. Gravies and dry curries made from trevally, emperor, red snapper, yellow fin tuna, skip jack, frigate tuna and other varieties of fish dominate the food scene.
Seafood menus of late have been expanded to include other recipes, such as grilled tiger prawn and green mussel, calamari skewers, grilled Maldivian lobster, fish fillets and barbecues of fresh catch to cater to the diverse tastes of the tourists.
Skip jack tuna is certainly a local favourite and it features in most of the traditional menus in the form of gravies, curries, filling for breads, fried rolls and baked fish cakes. Dried fish flakes or raw processed tuna cubes are also used in various preparations.
Garudhiya is a signature dish of the locals. It is a clear tuna broth that goes with almost any meal. The staple meal constitutes rice, Garudhiya, lime, onions and chillies. Rihaakuru, a thick paste resulting from processing tuna, is also a popular side dish consumed with rice. The paste is consumed in its original form or is garnished with onions and chillies. Mas huni (composed of yet another fish), coconut, lime delight and bodibe (sweetened rice) are also common.
Although vegetarian recipes feature in the regional cuisine, the abundance of fish and coconut, however, has a major influence on the daily meal. Rice, seafood, and coconuts are the main ingredients in the regional cuisine that also has distinct Indian, Sri Lankan and Arabian influences.