by Iyath Adam
As part of our Maldivian food culture series, this week we are looking at a local specialty from one of the southern atolls, golha riha.
Golha riha – or gulha riha – is a curry attributed to Laamu Atoll in Maldives. In fact, it was said that only the women of Laamu Atoll know how to make this special fish ball curry. The name “golha” actually means “gulha” or ball in the dialect spoken in Laamu Atoll.
As making the fish balls for the golha riha is a labour-intensive process, it is not uncommon for several members of the family to get together and make a big batch of the curry to be shared.
The “golha” or the fish balls are usually made from reef fish, which is deboned and ground together with a Maldivian spice mixture (Dhivehi havaadhu) and rolled into balls. Freshly caught reef fish is best.
The type of spice mixture can vary but staple ingredients include onion, garlic, ginger, chillies, curry leaves and cumin seeds. Traditionally, the spice mixture would be made using a local contraption called “dhai and foi” which consists of a slab and wide roller made from stone. The spices are hand ground using it, which is what gives the curry its distinct taste.
Once the fish balls are ready, they are then cooked in a mixture of havaadhu (spice) and coconut milk. The result is a spicy, savoury, and rich curry, dotted with fish balls – each a little burst of flavour. Golha riha is typically eaten with rice although you can eat it with roshi (Maldivian flatbread) – it’s all a matter of preference!
Want to try making golha riha on your own? Try out our easy-to-follow recipe here.