Can you handle the spice? Maldivians are known for their variety of food, with a staple being cooked seafood and fresh fruits. But you’ll find that the Maldivians love their spice.
They’re known for Indian curries and spiced leaves and powders that add a burst of flavor to their favorite meals. With a combination of Indian and Arab influences, it just makes sense to find a solid level of spice.
Even when something isn’t necessarily hot and spicy, it still has BOLD flavors that are bound to stand out!
If you’re not accustomed to spicy food, no worries! Maldivians also eat a variety of mild, non-spiced foods. You can find a bit of everything. But if you’re looking to try something new on your trip to the Maldives, we definitely recommend trying the famous Maldivian spicy dishes.
In this guide, we share more insight on the spicy and flavorful dishes of Maldivian foods. Keep reading to learn more about them!
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What do Maldivians Eat?
If you get the opportunity to visit the Maldives, you’ll find unique cuisine that reflects the lifestyle and main industries of the country, such as the fruits of the island, seafood caught by local fishermen, and spices passed down over centuries.
There’s a good variety of dishes from chilies to soups to salads, so you won’t be lacking in options.
Traditionally, Maldivian cuisine is spicy and similar to the coastal food from India. Currently, most dishes serve chilies as a side so that you can add them as desired – a relief for those that can’t handle spice (and there’s no shame in that!).
The Maldivians love to eat traditional dishes with roshi, which is Maldivian flat bread, and rice. The bread and rice soak up the flavor and adds a bit of balance to the spice.
Maldivian dishes are also often made with fish or chicken, but you can also find some vegetarian options like curried vegetables, eggplant curry, or potato curry. You can choose the level of spice as desired.
With such a diverse cultural background, the dishes bring together elements of Indian, Arabic, seafood, and other cultures to create something all their own. It’s incredibly flavorful and unique.
Why is Maldivian Food Spicy?
The reason Maldives spicy food is a favorite among Maldivians may come from a long history of cuisine and cultural influences. There are also certain practical reasons as well, though, like spices being used in Maldives to preserve food. The country’s tropical climate, which is hot and humid year-round, means that many foods spoil quickly without a preservative.
Spices also add flavor to dishes, which is an obvious reason to use them. Maldivians seem to prefer their spices with a kick or a punch of heat.
They can be added during cooking or sprinkled on top of finished dishes as garnishes, often in combination with other spices such as turmeric or cardamom powder. In addition to their preservative properties and flavor enhancement abilities, many spices have been shown to have medicinal benefits as well.
For example, cloves have been found useful against tooth decay, while cinnamon has been shown effective against diabetes.
History of Maldives Spicy Food
Traditional Maldivian cuisine, also known as Dhivehi food, pulls together its unique flavors through influences from neighboring countries. India, Sri Lanka, and even Arab influences have made their way into the traditional Maldivian cuisine.
When you consider common traits of cuisine from these areas, it totally makes sense that Maldivian food would also have some bold and spicy flavor to it, right?
The spice trade was a major part of the Maldives’ economy, and Arab traders introduced chilies to the islands. Indian traders then brought spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Overall, you’ll find very oriental flavors that may remind you of traditional Indian and Arab meals, but delivered with a twist.
Favorite Maldivian Spicy Dishes
The most popular spicy dishes in the Maldives are Bolhi, Hulabu, and Kiri. The first two are spicy curries that can be eaten with rice or bread. Bolhi is also known as Dhivehi Boli (Dhivehi meaning Maldivian) and consists of cooked chopped fish mixed with onions, tomatoes, and chili peppers.
Kiri means “chili pepper” in Dhivehi, so this particular dish consists of fresh green chilies sauteed in oil until they’re soft. Added with your choice of meat, this makes for a delicious, spicy meal.
Favorite Maldivian Spicy Ingredients
Since we’re looking at the favorite dishes of the Maldives, it’s hard to pass up the individual spices that make these foods as spicy and flavorful as they are.
Let’s explore the favorite chilis and spicy ingredients used by Maldivians. Your eyes will start watering already from the spicy combinations!
1. Scotch Bonnet Peppers (Githeyo Mirus)
As one of the hottest peppers used in cooking, Scotch bonnets have a heat rating of 80,000-400,000. If this number doesn’t mean anything to you, all you have to know is that it’s hot. They pack a slightly fruity note and complete the taste of many Maldivian meals.
2. Green Chilis
These chilis aren’t as spicy as Scotch Bonnets, but they do provide a good kick. You can mix them in with coconut-based, lighter curries such as ‘kirugarudhiya’. Some Maldivians even bite into them raw while eating ‘garudhiya’. Are you brave enough to bite into one?
3. Dried Red Chilis
Red chilis, a popular spice even outside of the Maldives, are an essential element of Maldivian spice pastes. They also use its powder form within curries, and you’ll find it. Red chilis are a part of nearly every dish and creation in Maldives, because they are bold and flavorful. They contribute to phenomenal flavors.
Best Restaurants with Spicy Food in Maldives
There are many restaurants in Maldives that serve Maldives spicy food for every palette and preference.
Check out some of these most popular restaurant choices if you’re looking for a meal with a kick.
1. The Spice
Located in Maafilaafushi, Maldives, The Spice is just how it sounds. Their menu is varied, and you’ll find spreads of breakfast and lunch featuring Asian, European, and Maldivian dishes. Google Reviews shows a rating of 4.8/5 stars, meaning it’s a place worth trying.
Location: Atmosphere Kanifushi
2. Kebab & Kurry
This restaurant is located in the popular Maldivian town of Male and features Indian food, such as kebabs and curries, as the name suggests. If you’re a fan of Indian spices and oriental flavors, this is a great place to try. Though not as traditional as the Maldivian island food, it still provides the heat you’re looking for.
Location: Marina, CROSSROADS
Try Some for Yourself
Maldivian food is spicy, but it’s not just because the islanders like their food hot. It’s also because they have a long history of trading with other countries and cultures, which means they’ve picked up some interesting spices and ingredients along the way. And the thing about this spice is that it’s bold and packed with flavor – it’s not just HOT.
If you’re interested in trying some Maldives spicy food for yourself, there are several ways you can do so. Try one of our recommended restaurants, or if you’re brave, you can attempt to make a spicy Maldivian dish at home. No matter what you decide to try, we hope that you can enjoy these bold and flavorful dishes and at least give them a try!
If you remove the chilies from Maldivian food, it can be argued by Maldivians that you’ll be serving the meal with half its spirit. It’s simply part of what makes every dish what it is.
Even if spicy isn’t your thing, you should give it a try! It’s the only way to truly experience the true culture and tastes of the Maldives.
The spices are also a secret to why Maldivian vegan foods are so good.
What spices do Maldivians use?
The essential spices that make Maldivian food as unique as it is include cumin, coriander, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and turmeric. While the spices themselves don’t necessarily make the meal spicy, when combined with chilis and peppers, the food can produce quite a kick.
Where does Maldivian food come from?
Maldivian cuisine is a combination of Sri Lankan, Arab, and Indian foods. You can find these types of meals served individually, like at the Indian restaurant Kebab & Kurry, for example, but Maldivian food itself is a combination.
What are the famous spicy foods in the Maldives?
Mas Huni, Garduhiya, Bis Keeymiya, Masroshi– the list can go on and on. You’ll find many foods and dishes that are unique to this country, with spice being a key factor. Luckily, you can choose your spice level for each, depending on the chilis you add in.
Is the Maldives food spicy?
For a lot of dishes, yes. But not all Maldivian food is made to be spicy. More recently, restaurants serve chilis on the side so that you can choose how hot you’d like the food. It’s your choice to make the food as spicy or mild as you’d like.
What food is Maldives famous for?
The most famous food of the Maldives has to be Mas Huni. This dish is found everywhere. It’s almost unavoidable. We recommend that you give it a try at least once, and be sure that you’re eating an authentic version of the dish.