A well-kept secret – an easy-going island paradise
The Maldives are a tiny nation of islands, some 600 miles from the nearest mainland, that lie in a beautiful emerald lagoon. The archipelago is made up of 20 atolls, each with its own unique culture and history.
The first settlers of the Maldives were seafarers who migrated from Asia and parts of East Africa. These travellers brought with them their own traditions and influenced the country’s culture in many ways.
A melting pot of South Asian influences, you can still feel these influences in the Maldivian way of life. It is a fascinating combination of Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Middle Eastern and Indonesian influences which can be experienced through music and dance performances or by sampling the local cuisine in more intimate settings like restaurants and village islands.
Fish is the most important staple food in the Maldivian diet, with tuna – especially yellowfin and skipjack – the main focus. Other fish such as lobster and mackerel are also common. Garudiya is a simple dish of clear fish broth, normally containing tuna; it gets its flavour from added onions and curry leaves.
Traditional snacks include Masroshi, Gulha and Bis Keemiya – each is ball-shaped and made from wheat flour filled with fried or toasted fish, onions, chillies and coconut. These are often eaten with a cup of tea or soda.
While alcohol is not permitted, a local brew called Raa is widely enjoyed. Betel leaf with areca nut, cloves and lime is chewed after meals while older people smoke a pipe called guduguda.