Sunday, May 8, 2016

MALDIVES: THE FOOD


Today is Mother’s Day, so I actually made this meal yesterday. My husband told me I shouldn’t cook on Mother’s Day (even though I have in the past). So, I made him come with us to have breakfast at CFI this morning, and then we went out for chicken shawarma: the only thing I truly wanted. 

It definitely needs to be warmed up and topped with vanilla ice cream.
But let’s talk about what I did yesterday on the second day of my Mother’s Day Weekend Extravaganza of Doing What I Want. I cooked my Maldivian meal! I started out making Faaroshi boakibaa, or bread made with bread rusk. I had to look up what bread rusk is because I have never heard of that term. Good substitutes are zwieback or melba toast. So I used crushed melba toast, but a box of melba toast only yielded 2 c crushed, so I substituted crushed Saltines for the other 2 c (10 crackers = about ½ c) to make 4 c total. Then I added in 2 c of sugar and mixed it together with my crushed crackers/toast before adding in two eggs. Then I poured in 2 Tbsp of rose water, 2 tsp of vanilla extract, and a 15 oz can of coconut cream. I stirred everything until it all came together. It took a little while for the coconut cream to bind everything together, but it did end up doing what it was supposed to do. I greased a loaf pan and put the dough in, baking it at 350ºF for about 45-48 minutes. You can definitely taste the rose water in this bread, but it wasn’t overpowering. The only problem was that it was really crumbly. The outer edges were crispy, but the inside fell apart, so it was really hard to cut into pieces. 

Surprise of the day.
The next dish I made was called Mas Hari. This dish is most often eaten for breakfast along with roshi bread (that I’ll make next). It was really easy to make, even though the ingredient list seemed a little strange at first. I emptied two packages of tuna into a bowl, followed by probably a ¼ c of coconut flakes (I sort of guessed how much I was putting in), about a ¼ c of diced onion (the recipe calls for shallot), lime juice (I used ¾ of a lime), a very little bit of minced jalapeño pepper (in lieu of a chilli), some chopped cilantro, and a little bit of smoked sea salt. I stirred everything together and put it in the fridge until it was time to serve it. I really liked this. It was amazing how well it tasted— the coconut really didn’t come out like I thought it would. There actually wasn’t any left over—that’s how well it was taken by the family. 

Silver dollar flatbread?
To go with the mas hari, I made roshi, a type of flatbread. This bread started out with 2 c of white flour and a large pinch of salt. Then I made a well in the center and added in 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil. I measured off a cup of water and put it in the microwave for about 3 minutes and poured it into the well, stirring it until it became a dough. Once it was cool enough to handle, I kneaded it until it really came together. I divided the dough into 10 balls. Flattening each dough ball by hand until it was fairly thin like a flatbread, I put it in a dry skillet and cooked it until it had browned. The edges were kind of hard but it was still soft enough to tear off and eat with the mas hari. Granted, they were kind of small, so I’m not sure if they were supposed to be bigger or not, but they tasted good, so I guess that works. 
Surprise of the day, part II.
Finally, I made bashi hiki riha, or eggplant curry. I picked this recipe even though my husband absolutely hates eggplant. Or so he says. I cut two baby eggplants up and fried them in vegetable oil, setting it off to the side when they had browned. Then I added in a little more oil and sautéed some diced onion, garlic, ginger, curry leaves (which I substituted basil and lime zest), and ground mustard. Once it sautéed for a few minutes, I added my eggplant back in. Then I threw in some cardamom, chili powder, curry powder and a little salt, stirring everything for another minute or two. I really enjoyed this, and even my eggplant-hating husband thought it wasn’t THAT bad. The kids didn’t care for it though. The recipe called for some spicy peppers, but I left those out. While I certainly don’t mind a little heat, my family hates it. Sigh. I thought it was great, full of flavor and definitely couldn’t tell it was vegetarian. 

I'd say it was pretty good. I was definitely full after this one.
I really enjoyed this meal. It certainly surprised me at how flavorful it was. It certainly had elements of Indian, Arab, and island cuisine. Although there is no alcohol permitted in the Maldives because it’s an Islamic country, I did have a ginger beer (alcoholic ginger ale?) with this, which complemented the flavors of the meal. I learned so much about this place that has been on my bucket list for a while: both the music and the food surprised me. Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to visit for real. But for now, I just have their recipes.

Up next: Mali

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