World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Maldives

Maldives Food and Drink

Maldivian food can at first appear a fairly limited affair. The country’s small size and tropical oceanic location ensures that fish and fruit, normally the coconut, are central ingredients to many dishes. Most meals will consist of fish, usually combined in some way with rice and coconut.

The islands are heavily influenced in palate by the Indian subcontinent, specifically Kerala in southern India and Sri Lanka, but with its own distinct richness of flavour. The use of peppers, chillies and curry leaves to make curries therefore abound, and flavours are generally very hot and spicy. Curries are traditionally eaten with a mound of rice and a handful of chapati.


Banbukeyo harissa: Curry of steamed breadfruit, chilli, onion and coconut milk.
Bis keemiyaa: Pastry filled with hardboiled egg and cabbage.
Hedhikaa: Traditional snacks, or ‘short eats’, such as samosas, sold by small cafés.
Garudhiya: Fish broth prepared using chillies, onion and lemon juice.
Rihaakuru: Brown paste made from concentrating down fish stock.
Mashuni: Mashed tuna mixed with coconut, chilli and onion and served for breakfast with roshi.
Roshi: Flatbread.
Theluli mas: Spicy fried fish such as grouper, swordfish, jobfish or octopus.
Kavaabu: Deep-fried snacks made from rice, tuna, coconut, lentils and spices.
Dhon riha: Tuna curry with coconut, cinnamon, ginger and various other spices.
Dhonkeyo kajuru: Fried banana cake flavoured with rose water or vanilla.
Sai: Tea; a Maldivian favourite.
Raa: Toddy tapped from palm trees, sometimes left to ferment and thus slightly alcoholic - the closest any Maldivian gets to alcohol.

Things to know

Locals do not drink alcohol, which is generally only sold in tourist resorts.


In international style restaurants in Malé, 10-15% is standard. In local cafés, it is not expected. In resorts, a service charge of 10-15% is usually automatically included in meals and for drinks.

Drinking age

Officially none since alcohol is prohibited outside resorts. In the resorts, a discretionary drinking age of 18 is generally applied.

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