Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Maldivian Cooking School - Fish and Coconut!

In addition to everything else wonderful about our Maldives trip, the food was exceptional!  While breakfast and lunch were buffets with loads of tasty delights, dinner was a sit-down four course meal every night, complete with an amuse bouche and a sorbet palette cleanser.  Needless to say, we ate well!

One thing that was always a feature of every meal was fish and coconut because, as the Maldivian's say, they have plenty of both.  In addition, they had a variety of curry dishes and, lucky for Nick and I, the Maldivian's like this spicy.  When we saw a cooking class offered by the the chef's whose food we enjoyed everyday, we could not resist.

Nick was a tad bit delayed because he was finishing his certification dives, but I was there camera in hand and ready to document it all!  I walked up to the outdoor kitchen area that was set up with a lovely display of spices and prepped food for the demonstration.

Colorful Spices
Each of the participants was given a cookbook complete with a great curry recipe among others that we would try that day.

Turns out curry starts out as a leaf!
Refreshments while we watched
The chef first set about making the curry paste, which can be adapted for any person and their love (or hatred) of curry.  The paste is something you can make in advance and either freeze, or keep in the fridge for a while until you're ready to use it.

Curry Paste - such a pretty deep red
Add the chicken (or fish, potatoes, or any other meat)
He let the meat sit in the sauce and cooked it a bit before adding the coconut milk and allowing it to simmer.  We finally had a chance to sample and it was simply delicious!  Watching and learning how to make a successful curry (complete with a recipe to follow) definitely provided a bit of a confidence boost at making my own curry at home.

Chicken Curry
Next up was a lesson in traditional Gulha or Bajiya, which is a tuna and coconut fish cake.  First, the chef prepared a mixture of smoked tuna, coconut, ginger and chilies among other ingredients.

Tuna Coconut Mixture
This was then spooned into a dough made of flour, oil and water with a bit of coconut as well (the more the better I say!)

Forming a dough ball
The the balls were sealed tightly and then popped into a pot of boiling oil to cook.  Simultaneously, the sous chef flattened out a couple of the balls and grilled them up nicely (the healthier option).

Boiling the fish cakes 
Draining Them...
Golden Deliciousness!
I have never "deep fried" anything at this point, but these would be worth trying to recreate at home.  Each of the pieces can be made in advance, and these would be perfect at a cocktail party.  You can also make these with shredded chicken, potatoes, etc. - anything you like!

In my opinion, any diet based on fish and coconut is perfect in my book!  We enjoyed every meal we had during our stay at the Banyan Tree - each day offered something different, and dinner each night was a full meal that was unbelievable.  I cannot wait to try some of the recipes at home and try to bring the Maldives to Boston.


  1. That looks like so much fun. I can't imagine how fresh everything must have been!

  2. What a cool thing to do on your honeymoon. I'm always a little weary of frying at home -- but this looks like an fabulous, vacation-like treat!

  3. How fun!! I'd love to try a cooking class next time I'm on vacation. And yes re: a diet filled with fish and coconut!

  4. This is awesome! One of the things I'm most looking forward to when we go to Italy is taking a cooking class!

  5. I think taking a cooking class in another country is so cool. Very fun!

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  7. Tuna with coconut? no wonder it's an Asian dish. caterers long island can make a version of this as well.


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