The welcome drink to a resort is a time-honoured ritual with many variations, but Sun Siyam Iru Veli features an especially Maldivian welcome beverage. The drink is a distinctive recipe including Mint, Orange, Pineapple, Cinnamon and Ginger with a indigenous touch of water infused with Pandan leaf (called “Raanbaa” in Dhivehi) grown on the island.
Probably the two most popular cuisines in the Maldives – Italian and Maldivian – have been fused by head chef Victor Zanitto of Sun Siyam Iru Veli. Victor has spent 6 years in the Maldives and has explored the local cooking extensively. He says that the fusion is a natural marriage of tastes and flavours. He says that Maldivians love thin pizza with tandoori chicken, and Italians are crazy about raw fish. He has worked how to make the most of limited ingredients, ie reef fish and coconut, and he noted that even ingredients like Sri Lankan tomatoes better than those from Italy. We enjoyed the Piedmont delicacy of panna cotta made with tropical mango.
One of the local Maldivian delicacies which delighted Tom Chesshyre in his book Tom Chesshyre “Misadventures in the Real Maldives” was “garudhiva”. It turns out that Milaidhoo features the dish in its “five must-try dishes at ‘Ba’theli by the Reef’ Restaurant” on Milaidhoo island
- “Garudhiya is a famous soup of the Maldives. It is a clear broth of poached fresh skipjack tuna, perfumed with pandanus (screwpine) heart and curry leaves. For a memorable blend of tropical island flavours, Kiru Garudhiya is one of the best foods in the Maldives. It consists of fresh island coconut milk, poached fish and shellfish in a soup flavoured with island spices and curry leaves.”
I do love a new twist on a traditional recipe, and what better to innovate on than Lori’s favourite Maldives breakfast – mashuni. Baglioni features Mini Mashuni Sliders at its daily afternoon tea with the chapati replaced by brioche buns. All day breakfast!
I came across a nifty piece in National Geographic “Five Unmissable Dishes That Define the Maldives”. I’ve sampled 3 of them, but Kulhi Boakibaa, not yet. But if I wanted to, I would head to Riu Atoll where their chef Aritha Fernando not only serves it, but even shares his recipe for you to try at home – “Cooking with love in the Maldives with RIU”:
- “This is a very special dish for our chef, who usually prepares this for her family and she says she has chosen to tell us how to prepare this dish that she is proud to cook on a regular basis for our guests “because it is the perfect blend of traditional Maldivian food and a dash of love. This is not just any old dish but rather one that she learnt from her mother who would cook it for her and her siblings when they were young and it was only once she became a chef that she managed to discover its secret ingredient: a sprinkling of love.”
Stations are the best of both world of buffets and a la carte – the easy and prompt access of buffets with a chance to visually see your food options, combined with the personalisation and reduced food waste of a la carte. And if there is one Maldivian favourite that is very personal to us it is the breakfast delicacy of mashuni. Lori has it nearly every day when we visit. If it’s not on the buffet or menu, she asks the chef if he can make (which he usually can). And she likes it with just the right amount of chili and coconut. So Emerald’s mashuni station was ideal for her.
She said it was the “best Mashuni ever”. Possibly echoing my standard reply to the most frequently asked question I get of “What is the best resort?” I always say, “The is no ‘best resort’…just the best resort for you.” So maybe there is no “best mashuni”, but there is the “best mashuni for you” at Emerald.
Floating breakfasts are becoming a staple of the food-photo-ing Instagrammers at resorts. Kandima was one of the early pioneers of the buoyant buffet and now they have gone a step further in distinction with a special Maldivian fare option:
- “We not only offer the bucket list Floating Breakfast, but we also offer an oh-so-authentic Maldivian Floating Lunch! Savour a truly private floating lunch in your villa pool bursting with exotic Maldivian flavours for an ultimate exclusive experience”
Just right for Lori who Maldivian favourite mashuni. Also, this post has prompted me to add the new tag “Floating Dining” as well as “Maldivian Cuisine” (which I was surprised that I hadn’t done yet).
While the Maldives destination is known for its distinctive blues, at Amilla’s “Mystique Garden” also features a cornucopia of Maldivian greens. And initiative of Sustainability Manager Victoria Kruse (see above) who has collected an extensive range of local produce to grow and feature in all the resort’s cuisine including:
- Moringa Drumstick – A ‘super food’ with leaves like spinash, roots like horseradish and use to make curry.
- Kullhafilafai – Like Maldivian dandelion (see photo directly below)
- Maldivian tea tree
- Loofa – While best known for its scrubbing, it is also produces a healthy veg.
For a full on Maldivian banquet, Maldivian cuisine fused with even more Maldivian cuisine (and a touch of Sri Lankan accompaniment for good measure), steel your belly for Heritance Aarah’s 13 course Laccadive extravaganza at its Ambula restaurant:
- “13-course journey in contemporary Sri Lankan and Maldivian fare at Ambula, dining on curried garlic lobster kottu, oxtail broth and seared tuna thiyal, accompanied by a delicious Colombard wine.” (CondeNast Traveller)
Over two decades I have been to countless “Maldivian Nights” at resort restaurants, but none so extensive as Makunudu’s lavish and authentic spread. Sometimes “Maldivian Night” is primarily little more than a bunch of reef fish curry. But Makunudu’s included all sort of delicacies and ingredients (the photos here provide a sample of the cuisine on offer). My favourite had to be the Fried Tapioca Chips which I had never sampled in all my years visiting despite being a huge tapioca fan.