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Food of Maldives: A Dive into Maldivian Cuisine

TeamAckoFeb 27, 2024

Can one ever have too many options when it comes to food? They do not exist, according to Maldivians. Everything tastes better in the Maldives because the ocean makes it so. Coconuts, rice, tropical fruits, herbs, and spices come together in a way that can only be described as magical in the Maldives. Traditional Maldivian food have been enjoyed by visitors and residents alike for decades. The Maldives opens its kitchen to you, too.


Here in the Maldives, flavours collide in a delicious way. Here, we will explore the origins of food of Maldives and its distinctive flavours, key ingredients, and dishes in greater detail.

Staple Maldivian Food

  • Seafood

  • Coconut

  • Rice

  • Spices and Herbs

  • Tropical Fruits

Best Restaurants

  • SeaLavie Cafe

  • Iberry Cafe

  • Streets of Male

  • West Harbour Area

Let’s dig in! 



Maldivian Cuisine: A Fusion of Flavors

Experiencing the food of the Maldives is a culinary journey into the country's rich history. Maldivian cuisine is a delightful and tasty blend of South Indian, Sri Lankan, Arab, and Indonesian culinary traditions. This unique blend creates a tapestry of flavours and textures that are as unique as the islands themselves.

The Maldives' past was a bustling trading hub that produced a range of spices, herbs, and cooking practices from across the region. South Indian influences on food of Maldives is clear in the heavy use of spices like cumin, cardamom, and fenugreek. These herbs and spices infuse Maldivian dishes with the iconic South Indian cuisine's depth and complexity.

Arab traders introduced aromatic herbs and marinating methods that enhanced the fragrance of Maldivian recipes. Meanwhile, the art of coconut-based cooking, a gift from Southeast Asian traders, lends creaminess and aroma to many dishes. 

Ingredients That Make Up Maldivian Dishes 


Given its island location, seafood is the heart and soul of Maldivian cuisine. Fish, tuna in particular, is the centrepiece of many dishes. You'll find tuna cooked in a number of ways - smoked, grilled, or even sun-dried to make the famous mas huni, a mixture of flaked fish, coconut, onion, and chilli.


Coconut is an ingredient that can be used in so many ways and cooked in both savoury and sweet dishes. Coconut milk and grated coconut are commonly used to add richness and flavour to curries, rice, and snacks.


Rice is a staple in Maldivian meals, often served alongside curries and stews. It's used to create dishes like kandu kukulhu (rice cooked with chicken and spices) and garudhiya (a fish broth-based dish with rice).

Spices and Herbs

The Maldivian kitchen comes alive with the aroma of spices and herbs like chilli, cumin, cardamom, curry leaves, and pandan leaves. These ingredients infuse dishes with robust flavours and tantalising scents.

Tropical Fruits

With a variety of tropical fruits available, Maldivian cuisine incorporates flavours like mango, papaya, and pineapple into both desserts and savoury dishes.

Must-Try Maldivian Dishes!

Bis Keemiya

These savoury pastries are reminiscent of samosas, filled with a mix of tuna, coconut, and spices. They're a popular snack, often enjoyed with hot tea.

  • Where to get: Street cafes of Male and Hulhumale

  • Timings: 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM

  • How much does it cost: INR 10 to INR 50


A traditional Maldivian ingredient, rihaakuru is a concentrated fish paste that adds depth and umami to many dishes. It's a key element in the preparation of traditional curries.

  • Where to get: SeaLavie Cafe, Ukulhas, Iberry Cafe, Hulhumale, Jazz Cafe, Male

  • Timings: 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM

  • How much does it cost: INR 250 to INR 800 (varies)


This delightful snack is made by stuffing a thin bread-like dough with a mixture of fish, grated coconut, onion, and spices, then folding and frying it to perfection.

  • Where to get: Findhandi Restaurant, Café Rio, Male, Lonuveli Restaurant, Komandoo, Hulhumale

  • Timings: 7:00 AM to 12:00 AM (varies)

  • How much does it cost: INR 40 to INR 400


Traditional, local dish of the Maldivian household. Garudhiya is a soup made simply with fish, water and salt. It is made with lime, rice, onion and chillies.

  • Where to get: Jazz Café, Male, Iberry Café, Hulhumale, Muraka, Mirihi Island Resort 

  • Timings: 7:00 AM to 12:00 AM (varies)

  • How much does it cost: INR 400 to 1050

Mas Huni

A must-try, Mas Huni is shredded smoked tuna served with grated coconuts, lemons and onions. It is the most popular Maldivian breakfast eaten with their bread called Roshi.

  • Where to get:  Crystal Sands, Maafushi, The Sea House Maldives, Boduthakurufaanu Magu, west harbour area in Male, also known as Raaveribe Maizaan during breakfast time serves all kinds of local breakfast options 

  • Timings: Breakfast time–as early as 4:30 AM

  • How much does it cost: INR 250 to 1300

What Influenced the Food of Maldives

The interesting story of food of Maldives is a delightful blend of history, culture, and global trade. As a vibrant trading hub in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives has a culinary heritage enriched by the influences of Indian, Arabian, and Southeast Asian traders.

Indian traders introduced a treasure trove of spices, including cumin and cardamom, which have since become essential ingredients in the food of Maldives. These aromatic spices added depth and complexity to the local cuisine, creating a symphony of flavours.

The Arabian influence brought herbs and marinating techniques, enhancing the aromatic quality of Maldivian dishes. Herbs like curry leaves and methods of marinating meats and seafood are part of this culinary legacy.

Southeast Asian traders contributed significantly by introducing the art of coconut-based cooking. Coconuts, known locally as "kurumba," provide coconut milk, oil, and grated coconut, essential components in Maldivian recipes. This infusion of coconut goodness lends creaminess and aroma to a wide range of dishes.

With an abundance of marine life, seafood naturally became a cornerstone of Maldivian cuisine. Fish and tuna, in particular, are prepared in various ways, from grilling to currying, showcasing the versatility of Maldivian culinary traditions.

What makes Maldivian food truly exceptional is the harmonious fusion of these international influences with local cooking techniques and ingredients. Every bite tells the story of the Maldives as a crossroads of global trade, where diverse culinary elements have come together to create a unique and utterly delicious cuisine that continues to enchant taste buds worldwide.

Cultural Celebrations

Maldivian food isn't just a meal; it's a celebration of culture and togetherness. During special occasions and festivals like Bodu Eid (an Islamic festival) and Hulhangu (a celebration of the new harvest), traditional Maldivian dishes take centre stage, bringing families and communities closer in a delicious way.

Imagine the scene: Families gather around tables laden with aromatic curries, grilled seafood, and fragrant rice. It's a feast for the senses, where flavours, colours, and aromas come together in a symphony of delight. The food of Maldives, deeply rooted in tradition, becomes a way to honour their heritage and connect with loved ones.

Bodu Eid

 Marking the end of Ramadan, is a time of joy and gratitude. Maldivian households prepare delightful dishes like huni hakuru folhi (sweet coconut pancakes) and masroshi (spiced fish pastries) to share with neighbours and friends.


Celebrating the new harvest is another occasion for communal feasting. It's a time when the Maldivians give thanks for the abundance of nature, and dishes like banbukeylu harissa (rice with young bamboo shoots) and gula (coconut and treacle confection) grace the tables.

In the Maldives, food becomes a bridge between generations, a reflection of their history, and a symbol of unity. So, whether it's a festive occasion or a simple family dinner, Maldivian cuisine is more than just sustenance; it's a celebration of their vibrant culture and the joy of coming together over a shared love for food.

Food as a binding force: Maldivian meals are often communal affairs, bringing families and friends together. The practice of eating with one's hands, known as handa, enhances the sense of togetherness and connection.

Preservation of Culinary Heritage

In recent years, there's been a growing movement to preserve and promote traditional Maldivian cuisine. Efforts are underway to document recipes, techniques, and stories associated with the dishes. Cooking classes, food festivals, and cultural events play a vital role in passing down the culinary heritage to younger generations.

A recipe passed down is a continuation of culture and ever strongly. Very few things bring people together with such force and food undoubtedly tops the list. 


In this article, we have looked at the magic of the Maldives through its food. When you go to the Maldives, do not just look at the view; also try the food. These are not just foods; they are a part of Maldivian culture, a link to the country's history as a trading hub, and a sign of how much they love bold flavours. When you are in the Maldives, do not just eat until you are full. Fill your heart, too. 

The Maldives is beautiful, but they're a group of islands, so be prepared with a medical contingency plan! ACKO travel insurance covers your medical emergencies or illnesses when you're in the paradise that is the Maldives. Your insurance from back home may not cover medical emergencies or sickness when you're in the Maldives! Enjoy in the Maldives without worrying about falls, scrapes, and illnesses with travel insurance. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the frequently asked questions on Food of Maldives


What is Maldivian cuisine known for?

Maldivian cuisine is known for its seafood, coconut, rice, and spices, reflecting a blend of South Indian, Sri Lankan, Arabian, and Indonesian influences.

What are some must-try Maldivian dishes?

Must-try Maldivian dishes include Bis Keemiya, Rihaakuru, Masroshi, Garudhiya, and Mas Huni.

Restaurants to try authentic Maldivian food?

Recommended places to try Maldivian food include SeaLavie Cafe, Iberry Cafe, Streets of Male, and West Harbour Area.

What influenced Maldivian culinary culture?

Maldivian culinary culture was influenced by Indian, Arabian, and Southeast Asian traders who introduced spices, herbs, marinating techniques, and coconut-based cooking.

Do Maldivians have cultural celebrations related to food?

Yes, Maldivians celebrate special occasions like Bodu Eid and Hulhangu with traditional dishes, fostering community togetherness.

Is the food in the Maldives often eaten communally?

Yes, Maldivian meals are often communal, and hand-eating, known as handa, enhances the sense of togetherness.

How is Maldivian culinary heritage being preserved?

Maldivian culinary heritage is preserved through efforts like documenting recipes, cooking classes, and cultural events.

Can I find vegetarian options in Maldivian cuisine?

Yes, vegetarian options, including vegetable curries and coconut-based dishes, are available in Maldivian cuisine.

What is the cost of eating Maldivian food at local cafes and restaurants?

The cost of Maldivian food varies, but at local cafes, snacks may cost INR 10 to INR 50, and meals range from INR 250 to INR 800.

Is it easy to find Maldivian food in tourist areas of the Maldives?

Yes, you can easily find Maldivian food in tourist areas, especially in cafes and restaurants catering to both locals and visitors, offering a taste of local flavours during your vacation.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet and is subject to changes. Please contact us on [email protected] for help with making any travel insurance purchase related decisions.


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