Mugu Bondibaiy | Lonumedhu

Mugu Bondibaiy


Mugu Bondibaiy is such a lovely Maldivian dessert that it’s actually a bit surprising that we don’t really see it being made too much these days. And if you are one of those people who think lentils don’t belong in desserts, we are here to tell you that it really does!

While researching this recipe, as usual, we did discover different ways of doing it. For example, the Mugu Bondibaiy recipe in Mohamed Amin’s Karuna Aai Nulaa Kekkun has ginger in it, while Zareena Ibrahim Didi’s version from her cookbook Dhivehi Kaanaa omits the ginger; she uses Kanamadhu (sea almonds) though, which Amin omits. Also, while Zareena’s recipe calls for the onions to be sautéed separately from the rest of the ingredients to be later mixed and cooked together, in Amin’s recipe, there’s no such precooking of the onions.

Many more discrepancies did we discover the more we talked to people about it. However, the most important thing about making Mugu Bondibaiy as we found out is getting the onions to sort of melt into the mixture, and you’ll find more details about that in our instructions. Using Raiy Mugu (red lentils) is also a must for this, and cooking them without making them too mushy contributes immensely to the texture.


Serves: 3-4


  • 1 cup Raiy Mugu (red lentils)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 tbsp. ghee
  • 1 tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 cup sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. rosewater
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon & cardamom (or to taste)



  1. Slice the onion thinly. It’s really important that you slice them evenly and as thinly as you can so that the slices cook easily and consistently.
  2. Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of ghee in a pot, and when the ghee melts, add the sliced onions and cook until the onions soften and begin to take on a brownish colour. When this happens, switch off the stove and put a lid on the pot. That’s it for the onions for the time being.
  3. Wash the Raiy Mugu thoroughly and place them in another pot along with the water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then let it simmer for something like 5 minutes. At this stage we want the Raiy Mugu to be just cooked as there’s much more cooking and mixing to follow.
  4. Drain the Raiy Mugu and set it aside.
  5. In another and somewhat larger pot, heat the rest of the ghee. When the ghee melts, add the cooked Raiy Mugu, onions, ginger and sugar. The sugar is going to caramelize the onions which in turn helps the onions melt into the mixture. You can keep the heat on medium and you’ll have to keep mixing to the end.
  6. When the mixture thickens and comes together, and when you can no longer see individual onion slices, switch the stove off.
  7. Add the rosewater and the ground cinnamon & cardamom and give it a final thorough mixing and that’s it.


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