All Things Papaya in Maldivian Cuisine | Lonumedhu

All Things Papaya in Maldivian Cuisine


by Iyath Adam


We’re back with one of our Maldivian Food Culture articles and this time, we’re talking all things papaya! 

Papaya, or falho as it is known in Dhivehi, is used in several sweet and savoury dishes in the Maldives. Typically, green, unripe papayas or lha falho are used to make savoury dishes while the ripe, juicy, orange ones are used to make different desserts. 

Grown year-round in several islands across the Maldives, papaya is best enjoyed on its own when ripe and is often eaten as an after-meal snack. The best papayas to eat like this are often a deep orange colour and has a sweet, creamy taste. 

Like most fruits, papaya juice or falho fani is also something that is made in Maldivian cuisine. Unlike other fani or juices – which is a simple mixture of fruit, sugar, and water – falho fani is made by boiling papaya, sugar, and water together and straining the mixture to get the resulting liquid. Although a classic Maldivian papaya recipe, this particular one is not consumed as much now.  

Instead, for a papaya drink, the most go-to recipe nowadays is falho kandhi. A quintessential Maldivian recipe, kandhi is a traditional dessert drink made with some type of fruit or root vegetable, sugar, coconut milk and ground rice. Pandan leaves and jasmine water are added as aromatics as well for a refreshing taste. 

One beloved papaya recipe is boakuri falho – a definite showstopper! For this dish, papayas that are just about to turn ripe are cooked with sugar until it turns into sweetened, slightly syrupy, bite-sized pieces. 

Another version of sweetened papaya is falho murabbaa. Unlike boakuri falho, falho murabbaa is a type of gummier, candied papaya with a slight hint of jasmine in it.  

With lha falho or unripe papaya, you can make an entire Maldivian lunch with rice, curry, and salad! Falholee baiy is made by cooking unripe papayas and rice in coconut milk and is best enjoyed with something sharp and salty like rihaakuru dhiya and valhomas (smoked tuna). 

Unripe papayas can also be made into a delicious curry, similar to fruits like banbukeyo (breadfruit) and maalhoskeyo (unripe banana) and eaten with rice or roshi (Maldivian flatbread). 

Falholu satani is made my mixing lha falho with onions, chillies and lime. For another tasty side, we also have falho asaara, a Maldivian pickle made with unripe papayas too. 

Another quintessentially Maldivian dish made by incorporating papaya is majaa – a spicy, tangy mixture of fruits, rihaakuru and helenbeli or tamarind. Unripe papayas are often mixed in when making this as the firm, clean taste cuts well through the sourness of the rest of the ingredients. 

Nowadays, traditional papaya recipes are being rendered into modern versions as well. One such dish is the Boakuri Falho gelato by Iceto which incorporates bits of boakuri falho into a papaya-y ice cream! 



Eating Out

Curry Recipes

Hedhikaa Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Chicken Recipes

Rice Recipes

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In our blog you will find food news, interviews with chefs and cooks, useful information about eating out and other foodie reads. 




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