The Tropical Island Tassievore Challenge

This Tassievore is again overseas attemping the Eat Local Food Challenge – this time in the tropical paradise of the Maldives! I can hear all of your comments now – “you are on a tropical island in the sun and the beach, how hard can it be”.

Well the Maldivevore Challenge is tough. Yes there are great tropical fruits to buy in the markets – bananas, papayas and mangos about to come into season. And a reasonable assortment of weird and wonderful vegies available in the markets (which unfortunately are not available on the menus in cafes/restaurants).  However based in Male’, the capital city island, life is crowded, chaotic and claustrophic. A population the size of Launceston jostles for living space on an island no more than 2km long and 1.5 km wide. There is no food grown on the island, and in the two weeks I’ve been here I’ve circumnavigated the island several times!

EVERYTHING is imported with the exception of fish which is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Processed foods and ready to eat meals line the supermarket walls and are becoming the norm as both parents work to survive the high cost of living in the capital. The market place is traditionally a male domain (though this is changing) and produce in the shops is largely imported of varying quality. My breakfast has been comprising Weetbix, WA UHT milk and local fruits.

The other 200 plus islands of the Maldives vary in foods available. Some are known as agriculture islands, where hydroponic lettuces and other crops are grown and sold to the resorts or for export.  Pumpkin, brinjal (eggplant), papaya, mango, banana, pineapples, coconuts and chilli are grown on many islands, depending on the soil. Many of the islands are made from coral making growing difficult, and the Boxing Day Tsunami also affected many of the islands destroying crops and fruit trees.

Not surprisingly seafood comprises the national dish called Garudiya’, a soup made from dried and smoked fish, lime, onion and chilli. A Maldivian breakfast consists of Mas Huni – a mix of tuna, onion, coconut and chili, eaten cold with roshi (unleaved bread) and tea. Snacks and short eats consist of fihunu mas (fish pieces coated with chili), gula (fried dough balls filled with fish and spices), keemia (fried fish rolls in batter) and kuli boakiba (spicy fish cakes). Not so good for a vegetarian Maldivore – I can’t wait to get back to the wonderful food in Tassie!

Garudhiya’ (Maldivian fish soup)

What you need:

250 g fresh tuna – swap this for local and sustainable fish source

1 small onion, diced

1 tbsp whole pepper corns

1 curry leaf (de-stemmed) – from your herb garden or farmers market

1 L of water

Salt to taste

How to make:    

Cut the tuna into small cubes. Pour the water into a pot. Place all the ingredients in the pot and cook until the water starts boiling. Reduce the heat and remove the scum from time to time. When the fish is cooked, turn off the heat.

Serve hot with rice*, lime and chilli. The soup can also be enjoyed as it is with a little lime juice and chopped chilli added to it. Variations to the dish include adding some fried onion and some leafy green vegetables at the end of cooking.

Serve with homemade Roti bread, (using Oatlands Tassie flour) and substitute rice* with Kindred Organics Quinoa or homeade noodles.
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