by Iyath Adam
This week, we take a look at some traditional Maldivian snacks; recipes which have been passed down through generations and enjoyed by the young and old alike.
Thelli banbukeyo or fried breadfruit (thelli meaning fried) is a quintessential Maldivian snack. Ripe breadfruit is thinly sliced and deep fried until crispy, resulting in a slightly sweet, crunchy snack. Some people also like to dip thelli banbukeyo in thelli rihaakuru (Maldivian fish paste)!
Tharafana is a sweet snack, made from arrowroot flour (hihthala fuh). The arrowroot flour is mixed with sugar and jasmine water to make a viscous mixture which is first spread on cork wood leaves (dhunburi faiy), boiled, and dried. The dried dough is then removed from the leaves and deep fried and coated in dhiyaa hakuru (Maldivian coconut honey) to make tharafana. Although it’s usually milky white in colour, tharafana also comes in bright colours such as pink, yellow, and green.
Kudhi gulha is well-beloved by both adults and children alike. These are similarly made miniature versions of gulha, the Maldivian hedhika, although kudhi gulha is made with valhomas (smoked fish) and deep fried until hard and crunchy to make it last longer.
A classic snack at Maldivian tables, these fried taro chips have a sweet-ish, earthy taste and is well enjoyed with the traditional mas kaashi (coconut and smoked fish) platters. Thelli ala is sometimes coated in sugar or dhiyaa hakuru to enhance the taste.
Murumuru consists of small, fried pieces of dough, which are then coated in a mixture of lonumirus and rihaakuru. The result is a spicy, savoury chip that will definitely leave you wanting more!
Baiy gulha – like the name itself – is a sweetened rice ball (baiy means rice and ball means gulha in Dhivehi). Made from puffed rice (known as handoomaa) and mixed together with dhiyaa hakuru, baiy gulha is a great dessert snack to have for afternoon tea.
Kulhi kaajaa – sometimes known as kulhi roshi – is the ultimate spicy snack; fitting as “kulhi” literally means spicy in Dhivehi! To make this, a dough made of flour, rihaakuru, ground coconut, dried tuna and herbs are cut into diamond shapes and deep fried until crunchy.
Athu jehi and kulhi kaajaa are pretty similar in colour and taste, although athu jehi is shaped differently, resembling tiny, bite-sized plates. Another major difference is that athu jehi is made with ground rice or rice flour instead of wheat flour, giving it a slightly thicker texture.