Food in Maldives
All resorts are self-contained, so they have at least one restaurant that generally serves the type of cuisine expected by guests. (i.e. modern European or generic Asian). Breakfast is almost always included, and most resorts offer the option of half board, which means you get an evening buffet, and full board, which means you get a lunch and dinner buffet. These can limit the damage compared to ordering a la carte, but your options are typically very limited and drinks are often not covered, not even necessarily water. If you plan to drink a lot, it may be worth going all-inclusive, but again, you are usually limited to house drinks.
The only other way to find food is male. This comes in two forms. Either small restaurants aimed at tourists (of which there are a few nice Thai restaurants), which are often expensive, or small cafés called hotaa, which offer local Maldivian food at prices as low as MVR20 for a full meal.
Maldivian food largely revolves around fish (mas), especially tuna (kandu mas), and is strongly influenced by Sri Lankan and South Indian traditions, especially Kerala. Dishes are often hot, spicy and flavoured with coconut, but contain very few vegetables. A traditional meal consists of rice, a clear fish broth called garudhiya, and side dishes of lime, chilli and onion. Curries known as riha are also popular, and rice is often accompanied by roshi, unleavened bread similar to Indian roti, and papadhu, the Maldivian version of crispy Indian poppadums. Some other common dishes are:
- mas huni – chopped smoked fish with grated coconut and onions, the most common Maldivian breakfast
- fihunu mas – grilled fish baked with chilli
- bambukeylu hiti – breadfruit curry
Snacks called hedhikaa, almost always fish-based and deep-fried, can be found in every Maldivian restaurant.
- Bajiya – pastry filled with fish, coconut and onions
- Gulha – dough balls filled with smoked fish
- keemia – fried fish rolls
- kulhi borkibaa – spicy fish cake
- masroshi – mas huni wrapped and baked in roshi bread
- theluli mas – fried fish with chilli and garlic
Drinks in Maldives
As the Maldives is Muslim, alcohol is prohibited for the local population. However, almost all resorts, liveaboard boats and the Hulhule Island Hotel (on the same island as the airport) have a licence to serve it, usually at a high mark-up. Expatriates have pocket money that they can use in Malé.
Maldivians generally do not drink alcohol, although this is less true for the younger generation. However, they are unhappy about being filmed or photographed while drinking.
The tap water in the resorts may be drinkable, but it doesn’t have to be – ask the management. Bottled water is outrageously expensive, typically US$5/bottle.