Guess what’s for breakfast in the Maldives? Fish, of course, and freshly grated coconut. Lots of it.
Watch Lathifa make a traditional Maldivian breakfast. Mas huni is a spicy mix of coconut and tuna and a staple at every meal. At breakfast it’s scooped up with freshly baked roshi, the Maldivian version of the Indian flatbread roti. It’s seriously yummy!
Like most Maldivian women, Lathifa works full time. Her work as a health worker starts at 6:30 am. And like most Maldivian women, every morning she prepares the traditional Maldivian breakfast for the extended family. That means, unlike everybody else in her family, Lathifa stays up after the pre-dawn early morning prayer to knead dough, grate coconut and slice onions. It’s what she’s always done and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here is Lathifa’s recipe for a traditional Maldivian breakfast:
Slice one red onion. Add thinly chopped curry leaves and one green chilli or more according to taste.
Add 1 can of tinned tuna, drained of oil. Lathifa preserves the oil for cooking other tuna based dishes. Using tuna in water will work just as well. Traditionally, freshly caught fish was used for mas huni.
Mix well using your right hand, until you have a creamy paste. It’s very important to do this part by hand. It won’t taste the same in a blender. Lathifa insists on this and I believe it!
There are many variations of this dish. Here Lathifa is adding finely chopped Maldivian cabbage. You can use kale instead. Adding boiled butternut pumpkin is another popular variation.
Mix with the grated coconut flesh, season with salt and pepper and finish with the juice of one lime.
Ingredients for Mas Huni
One red onion chopped finely into rings
A small handful diced curry leaves
1 small chilli diced
1 dash of salt
Juice of 1 lime
1tin canned tuna, drained of oil
1 cup freshly grated coconut
Every Maldivian housewife grows her own curry leaves and cabbage and other essential herbs and spices, no matter how small the outdoor space. Window sills, verandas, and most recently the footpaths and public areas of the suburb islands of Villingili and Hulhumalé, are crowded with these recycled yellow vegetable oil containers that serve as mini veggie patches.
Lathifa’s recipe for Roshi
Mix 250 gr of white flower with 2 ‘fair whacks’ of olive oil. Like every experienced cook, Lathia does not provide measurements in her cooking demonstrations, just approximations. Add 1 tsp of salt. Mix well.
Add boiling water until you have a firm dough.
Knead well and divide into golf-ball sized portions. Watching Lathia do this at record speed is a real treat.
Using a rolling pin, roll into thin disks.
Fry in a shallow pan without oil.
This is quite an art in itself. It takes several attempts before I get it right. Essentially you wait until the dough starts to bubble. Then you swiftly turn the bread over, pressing down with a spatula so that the bread does not expand into one large blister and turn once again until both sides are evenly toasted. The whole process is extremely fast and in less than 10 minutes we’ve made about two dozen roshi flatbreads, enough to feed the extended family.
Ingredients FOR ROSHI
250 gr flower
1 tsp salt
2 reasonable whacks of olive oil (it’s the best I can describe it)
It was fun making these with Lathifa, but I know I won’t be making roti every morning at 5:30 am, or at any other time for that matter. And I don’t have to because the roshi can be easily substituted with pre-packaged wraps or tortilla. It’s that easy and it’s truly delicious!
Have you ever made roshi or roti? Feel free to share your best tips!
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