The concept of including flowers in food is of course not entirely alien to us Maldivians as we’ve been using jasmine infused water as well as rosewater in our food since a long, long time ago. However, for this week’s feature article we are going to talk some more about edible flowers.
Below we’ve compiled a little list of some pretty ones commonly used in cooking here as well as elsewhere in the world. And there’s a good reason why we are calling our list little. There are actually hundreds of edible flowers out there while our list includes just a handful.
Wonder why hibiscus doesn’t make an appearance in our cuisine, after all it’s such a common flower here. The petals of the hibiscus are tart and sweet and lend a cranberry like flavour when used in teas.
No stranger here. While we use roses or more precisely rosewater to flavour savoury dishes like the ‘biriyani’ along with many local desserts, elsewhere in the world roses are also used in soups, salads, jams and teas for their floral and slightly fruity flavour.
Jasmine, our beloved ‘huvandhumaa.’ This is probably our favourite off the list. It just brings such a nice floral aroma and flavour to teas and desserts. Those of us who are familiar with Thai cuisine would have also devoured their aromatic jasmine rice as well at one time or another.
This is what we call ‘boashi’ and it’s just so good when curried. Some cultures do eat it raw and apart from curries, it’s also used in salads and soups.
We are quite used to eating moringa leaves or ‘murangafaiy’ as well as the drumsticks ‘murangatholhi,’ but did you know that you can actually make a delicious snack by frying moringa flowers in a little bit of oil? You can brew teas and make chutneys with them too.
Chamomile is usually seen in teas that help with sleep and stress, and these days you can find camomile teas available at most supermarkets in Male’. Apart from the calming tea, camomile blossoms, with their earthy and slightly sweet flavour can be used for making smoothies, bakes and desserts.
We are all very familiar with mint leaves or ‘kudheenaafaiy’ as our cuisine has a killer satani made from it. However, all flowers from the mint family are edible as well. The flowers have a slightly milder mint flavour compared to the leaves, so in addition to desserts they can also be used as pretty and edible garnish in teas and other foods.