Maldives: Travels of a foodie

15th Sep 2013
Photo of Maldives: Travels of a foodie 1/6 by Jana Steinhagen
Ailoi Restaurant
Photo of Maldives: Travels of a foodie 2/6 by Jana Steinhagen
Tandoor Nights at Hulhule
Photo of Maldives: Travels of a foodie 3/6 by Jana Steinhagen
Kurumba Resort
Photo of Maldives: Travels of a foodie 4/6 by Jana Steinhagen
Traders Hotel
Photo of Maldives: Travels of a foodie 5/6 by Jana Steinhagen
Sala Thai
Photo of Maldives: Travels of a foodie 6/6 by Jana Steinhagen
Poppadoms Restaurant

Islands are always fun to travel. Maldives, located in the Indian ocean is full of crystal blue waters, sandy beaches and a rich culture. No matter how many times I come here, there is always something that I find new here. Apart form that, Maldives has an amazing chain of restaurants. I love travel and cooking. So, while travelling my basic instinct is to go restaurant hopping and to taste the various cuisines. Fresh stuff from the sea coupled with some Thai and Indian spices is mostly what dominates dishes in this region. But, before we get to the food, there are two places that have left an impact on me.

Snorkeling In Kuda Bandos is surely an experience you should indulge in. It is the easiest place for snorkelling I have encountered so far. Just step into the water and you're there, surrounded by a multitude of tropical reef fish. The best place to snorkel is to the right of the little channel they use for jet ski's and small boats next to the pier. Be careful though at low tide. The coral is closer to the surface and can be razor sharp. A fun thing to do here is to keep some bread for the fish at the pier. You will get a huge array of colourful fish coming for a feeding frenzy. It's a small effort but such fun!

The Banana Reef is supposed to be the best place for snorkeling in Maldives. Off we jumped into the wonderfully warm and sparkling blue yonder and swiftly got picket up by a gentle current that took us along the side of the reef. One of the instructors was close by and suddenly raised his head to shout 'shark'... So everyone flippered by, to gather and see him. Indeed there was a sizeable young man of a shark swimming along the reef, together with a multitude of colourful sealife. Afterwards I was told that sharky swam right next too me at some point, but I missed that... maybe a good thing. I thought I could hear a familiar squeaking while I was under water and as it turns out there were some Dolphins nearby. We took the oppotunity to follow them along their way for a little while. Such graceful yet playful creatures, jumping loops for the sheer fun of it. This was definitely one of the Highlights of this trip. Our lovely boat ride continued on to the best Reef of the North Male Atoll, the Banana Reef. Once again there would be a current picking us up and drift us along, while the Boat will drive on and pick us up at the other end. It's quite an awesome feeling to gently float along while watching this incredible scenery underneath.

When it comes to food, Male, the capital of Maldives wins hands down. Since, I love food so much, exploring restaurants is my favourite thing to do. The dishes are great and experimenting will be your best option, so don't hold in. Some dishes might persuade you to go asking for the recipes! Also, here are some places that would probably be great places to stay while you are in Maldives.

If you're looking for a 'marooned on an island' excursion on your Maldivian holiday, Kuda Bandos will be worth a visit. No matter how many times I've been here it always has the wow effect, every time. The water couldn't get any bluer, the sand couldn't be any softer and the sound of the waves gently lapping against the beach couldn't be any more relaxing.To get to Kuda Bandos arrange a picnic trip from your resort or hire a private transfer. It currently costs $11 entree fee to be payed on arrival at the island. If you are not part of a picnic excursion, there is a small bar that serves cold drinks, beer and some snacks.Top Tip: (from a german) As soon as you get there grab yourself a sun lounger,

Photo of Kuda Bandos, Kaafu Atoll, North Central Province, Maldives by Jana Steinhagen

The best Reef for snorkelling and diving in the North Male Atoll is considered to be the Banana Reef. We took a tour with Dive Club Maldives for $35 to go and see a couple of Reefs with a Lunch Break on a local Island. This little gem of underwater Paradise was for me, the most amazing I have seen so far. Gazillions of beautiful fish are swimming here along this amazing coral garden. Absolutely breathtakingly stunning. My little pictures shows nothing of the beauty that is to be seen here. If you can dive, you can get up close and personal with them all, but with the sun lighting up the top of the corals, it is glistening, bright and colourful right at the surface.

Photo of Banana Reef, Maldives by Jana Steinhagen

I have been here many many times and cannot fault their food. The menu has a mixture of delicacies from all the various Asian and European cuisines, competing for your attention.There is definitely something for everybody. Creative Salads, comforting Pastas, exciting Curries, Vegetarian Food, fresh Seafood, juicy Steaks and local Fayre. I personally went for the Hot and Sour Soup with Prawns. I love it, but if you are not used to the chillies it will give you hickups!One great thing that I like alot about Aioli, is that they will accommodate your taste for degrees of spicyness. Just tell them how hot or mild you like it and they'll do it.Which makes me think, why don't restaurants have a scoville chart type rating for dishes. ... Make mine an 8 out of 10 please

Photo of Aïoli Restaurant, Lotus Goalhi, Malé, North Central Province, Maldives by Jana Steinhagen

With a large array of authentic dishes at very good prices this is an obvious choice for a casual meal for Locals and Foreigners alike. My Top Tip: Do ask them how big the portion is that you are ordering. Most rice and noodle dishes are large enough to share by a whole family. While meat and side dishes come in 3 different sizes and small really means small. I had the obligatory Tom Yum soup followed by deep fried fish with tamarind sauce and a dry minced beef curry. If like me you like Thai food spicy, you will probably also love the fact they have the chilli fish sauce and chilli vinegar condiments on their tables, to which I helped myself happily!

Photo of Thai Wok Restaurant, Malé, Male, Maldives by Jana Steinhagen

This is my Favorite restaurant in Male. I've eaten there so many times, they've given me a discount card. The Restaurant has an air-conditioned Downstairs, but we always favour the Semi Open Air area Upstairs or even right outside on the Balcony, where the Fruit Bats do their evening rounds. It's like an encyclopedia of Thai food. I could study it for hours before I decide what I'm going to have. I ordered a Tom Yum Steamboat, then I had one of the fried whole fish dishes. The side dishes are Garlic Water Spinach and Green Papaya Salad. Two of my 'Must Haves' in any Thai Restaurant. Once again everything was lovely.

Photo of Lemongrass Fifth Restaurant, Fareedhee Magu, Malé, North Central Province, Maldives by Jana Steinhagen

The price I pay at Sala Thai is worth my every penny. Consistent quality of food and service will always prevail. Naturally. I had a meal that made me feel happy and satisfied. My beloved Tom Yum Soup with Seafood, a little rice and a fresh Pineapple Celery and Ginger Drink. All at just 10 delightful Weight watchers points. So, considering my New Year resolutions, it also rated very highly.

Photo of Sala Thai Restaurant, Male, Maldives by Jana Steinhagen

It is the first private resort that opened to tourists in the Maldives in the 1970's. The Design of the resort makes me think 'Zen' and 'Peaceful' and it may have been here for 40 years already, but there is nothing old about it. Kurumba has 180 rooms with 8 different styles to choose from. In amongst the plentiful flowers, shrubs and coconut palms the beautiful beach bungalows are hiding. My favourites are the Deluxe Bungalows right by the sea. You can open your glass double door out to your little terrace and hop right onto the beach. All it needs is a hamock, but maybe it's just me, I like hammocks. Being conveniently close to the airport this resort would seem favoured for families or shorter holidays, but I think a romantic getaway would be equally wonderful here. There are several restaurants and Bars dotted around, offering a great variety of delicious dishes including Seafood, Barbecues, Arabic, Chinese, Italian and Japanese cuisine as well as the usual Buffet Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Photo of Kurumba Island Resort, Malé, Maldives by Jana Steinhagen

If you have to stay here for business or to catch your early flight home after coming from a resort island the Traders Hotel Male by Shangri-La is a smart choice. Their rooms are comfortable and modern with big showers in a bathroom that is made of glass walls! On the roof you'll find a popular evening hang out for locals and tourists alike. Smoking shishas, drinking tea and mocktails under the stars while listening to chill out tunes. In the daytime the rooftop converts to a swimming pool with double-bed sized sun loungers and a trendy sushi restaurant. They will bring your food on a cute little tray that sits over your lap, so you needn't move an inch from your sunny or shady spot.

Photo of Traders Hotel, Malé, Maldives, Ameer Ahmed Magu, Malé, Maldives by Jana Steinhagen

Normally a visit to Hulhule is solely for the purpose of getting a beer or such like, as Male itself is a 'dry' Island and doesn't of course serve these little indulgences. For local workers and us tourists, who stay in Male, this is the preferred meeting place for a sundowner. So when they start setting up their Tandoori cart and oven right next to the pool, the taste buds light up on a foodies mind like mine. Fresh reef fish marinated in the chefs own mixture of exotic spice and traditional Indian favourites are freshly prepared as you watch (if you're not to busy chatting).

Photo of Hulhule Airport Hotel, Maldives by Jana Steinhagen

I was surprised to find the usual Maldivian 'mish mash' menu of all manner of Asian dishes. From what I'd heard, I thought it was just Indian, so I ask the waiter for a recommendation of a spicy Fish Curry. He chose a curry I already had my eye on. Malabar Fish Curry. I have never seen the name before and am looking forward to hopefully discovering a new delicacy. There are a few other unusual names on the menu, so if this one is good I'll be back to check the others out! I am particularly intrigued about the Manchurian Curry.

Photo of Poppadoms, Male, Maldives by Jana Steinhagen